Hydroponics and Gardening: They’re Older than Epcot!

Hanging Gardens of Babylon depiction

The “Roses are not yet in full bloom here – in fact they are scarce – and from all of the nurseries and all the garland-weavers we could just barely get together the thousand that we sent you…even picking the ones that ought not to have picked till tomorrow. We had all the narcissi you wanted, so instead of the two thousand you asked for we sent four thousand.” (Stewart, pg 6)*

The quote above was not a request for flowers for the recent Olympics, nor for a recent inauguration or state funeral, it was written on papyrus before the birth of Christ. It is a stunning reminder that although we are continuing the age-old tradition of gardening we should respect the developments and advancements that were made before us. We should strive to improve our skills as gardeners and gain a better understanding of our plants, our growing systems, and of the history that has come before us!

Gardening is not new by any means, and yet hydroponics is often considered cutting edge science. The truth of the matter is that hydroponics dates back hundreds- possibly thousands- of years BC. Hydroponics was not a technique relegated to a single culture either. There were the hanging gardens of Babylon, the floating garden of the Aztecs, and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics alluding to hydroponics. **

Let’s remember that the amazing display of hydroponic gardening at Epcot, and NASA’s work with hydroponics for the upcoming manned mission to Mars, owe their progress in some part to these ancient cultures.

*Stewart, Amy, Flower Confidential, Workman Publishing, 2007.

**Resh, Howard, Hydroponic Food Production . Woodbridge Press, 1997.

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