Farming can be defined as agricultural activities such as breeding livestock and planting fields to produce a profit. Gardening, on the other hand, is a nature-based activity on a small scale that produces enough plants to beautify your garden and property while potentially growing some produce for your own use.
But is this distinction always that clear?
Table of contents
- Farming Vs. Gardening—Clear Distinctions
- Differences Between Farming Vs. Gardening
- Similarities Between Farming Vs. Gardening
- Farming vs. Gardening FAQs
- The Final Farming vs Gardening
Farming Vs. Gardening—Clear Distinctions
Distinctions between farming and gardening have become somewhat blurred partially due to changing economies and also the influence of technology. Where it used to be a firm requirement to have several hundred acres to be able to yield an income-generating or cash crop, technology has changed this notion.
You can now grow cash crops on a small scale and still earn substantial profits. So where does the line between farming and gardening really lie?
Differences Between Farming Vs. Gardening
While the amount you earn seems to set farming and gardening apart, this can also be a misnomer as even a large farm can produce less money than a well-planned garden in terms of dollars earned per square foot. Here are some other differences between farming and gardening:
Employees and Duties
A garden will potentially require employees such as a gardener or a garden cleaning service. However, a farming operation usually requires more employees such as farm laborers, seasonal workers, and migrant laborers.
Gardens tend to have the same duties for an employee such as weeding, making garden beds, watering, and mowing the lawn or cleaning up between small-scale vegetable boxes or potted produce. Farm workers usually have to harvest large volumes of produce, package these, transport the produce from the fields to storehouses, and even perform quality inspections.
Type of Produce
Another massive difference between farming and gardening is the type of produce. Where a farm usually has one or two types of crops such as maize and wheat being produced, a garden can produce many different crops in different quantities. A garden may produce eggs (if you keep a few chickens), potatoes, fresh greens, and a few ears of corn.
In general, farming also includes livestock, whereas gardening is mostly focused on plants.
Farming requires specialized knowledge about the different cultivars and how to produce high-yield crops. When gardening and growing crops for your own use or to sell at a local small-scale market, you don’t need specialized knowledge.
Gardeners often acquire knowledge as they experiment with different crops and methods. It’s a fun learning experience with little harm if they fail as they aren’t reliant on these crops to survive.
However, farmers need to avoid crop failure at all costs, which is why farmers may pay consultants hefty fees to ensure they use the best methods and seeds to yield the highest crop. For a farmer, it is serious business to produce, market, and sell their crops.
A gardener or small-scale farmer relies on often outdated technology and equipment to plant, cultivate, and harvest their small crops of fresh food. As a result, you may find that farmers tend to have more equipment, they spend more money on their equipment, or they need to hire expensive equipment such as balers and harvesters.
In contrast, a gardener or homesteader can rely on their own resources to harvest their crops. They only need to bring in a few bushels of fruit, whereas a fruit farmer has to safely and correctly harvest several thousand trailer loads to provide to bulk markets.
Farmers tend to sell to an intermediary as this entity will have the available funds to purchase a large-scale crop such as several tonnes of wheat or a couple of truckloads of pumpkin (in time for Halloween).
Gardeners can sell out-of-hand to local markets, set up collection points, and even sell to the general public (if they choose to sell at all). A gardener is usually concerned with providing a harvest to their own family and immediate friends only. Anything extra can be sold at market, but these small-scale crops of gardeners can usually fit in the back of a pickup truck.
Similarities Between Farming Vs. Gardening
There are several areas where farming and gardening share focus, interest, and even methods. Consider these farming and gardening match-ups:
Both farming and gardening will have a seasonal approach. Farmers and gardeners both plant crops, and these cultivars have similar needs. Whether you plant a patch of pumpkins or a field of them, you still need to fertilize, weed, treat for damaging insects, and harvest at the right time.
Soil Profile Match Requirements
Whether farming or gardening, if you are planting vegetables or fruits, you will need to check what crop can be supported by the soil profile of the soil available to you. If the soil is barren, you will not be able to produce any significant quantity of crops. Soil that’s too rich may burn root vegetables or seasonal cultivars.
Farmers and gardeners rely on the weather for rainfall, available groundwater, and temperature guidance to help their plants thrive. A farmer can only plow their field when there is sufficient rain coming. Likewise, a gardener won’t be able to grow new plants and small-scale crops when a heatwave is predicted.
Farming vs. Gardening FAQs
Is gardening a form of farming?
Yes, sometimes gardening can form part of farming, and farming approaches can be used when gardening such as rotational planting and companion planting. Many of the ideas and techniques of gardening are applied in farming, only on a bigger scale.
What is the difference between farming and horticulture?
Farming produces mostly edible plants (although there are certain herb farms that produce aromatic herbs and not edible plants). However, horticulture is the study of all plants, whether edible or not. Gardening may be seen as an expression of horticulture as a gardener will produce edible and non-edible plants in their garden.
The Final Farming vs Gardening
Farming and gardening are like twin siblings. They share many similarities, but there are also some significant differences. While you may believe that you are a farmer when you grow a few extra beds of carrots and lettuce to sell at your local market, you may actually be a gardener with a little more ambition.
It is not quite clear whether the definition “farmer” is only applicable to those who grow crops on large parcels of land or if a well-maintained and run garden can also label you a farmer. Certainly, a farmer needs to be an enthusiastic gardener before they take things on a bigger scale and take up farming.