Introduction to Horticulture

Archaeological evidence suggests that human existence has always been dependent on food and fiber from plants or from animals that feed on plants.  A hunter-gatherer existence required almost every waking hour, and considerable area, to obtain enough food to eat.

The most significant advancements in food procurement were the domestication of animals and plants and the art of cultivation. The earliest conclusive evidence of plant cultivation and domestication is dated about 7000 B.C. in present day Turkey and Iraq. Cultivation and herding ensured a more reliable food supply and subsequently allowed people more time to pursue learning.

Horticulture originates from the medieval practice of dividing large tracts of land into smaller units called manors.  In order to provide food and pleasure for the Lord who governed the manor, intensively managed kitchen gardens were established to  provide fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamental plants. In addition, extensive field plantings of grains and forages were made, which gave rise to the discipline of agronomy.

Horticulture is an applied science established on sound scientific principles. borrowed largely from botany. Horticulture uses these principles to develop practical cultivation technologies that maximize the production of food, ornamental, and other high value, often perishable, specialty crops. In contrast, agronomy includes large scale, less intensively managed food and forage crops such as corn, wheat, rice, alfalfa, and other grains.

Horticulture is often defined as both an art and a science. It requires a fundamental understanding of principles of plant physiology and basic botany in combination with skill and intuition employing these scientific principles to maximize both the use and enjoyment of plants. The English word horticulture is derived from the Latin words hortus, which means garden, and colere, which means to cultivate.



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