Genealogy is a Lot Like Gardening

Most people that know me know that I'm not big on gardening. Up until a few years ago, I could look at a plant and it would start to die. Then my mother-in-law bought me an aloe plant. Unfortunately, I over-watered it and it died. Never one to give up, I bought another one. Surprisingly, it has thrived..The plant has more than quadrupled its size and been repotted multiple times.

Since the aloe did so well, I decided to add another plant, an African violet. When it also did well, I added a few more. Now my indoor garden consists of an aloe, an African violet, a pothos, a miniature peace lily and a miniature tree ivy.

Last year, in an effort to save money on groceries, I took a leap and started a small garden. It wasn't much, mainly salad stuff and herbs. My daughter helped me.

I have to admit I was shocked when it did so well. Other than the radishes, our garden flourished. We had more than we could eat so we even ended up sharing some with family and friends. The prize of our garden was a 14.5 inch cucumber.

There are a lot of things about gardening that can be applied to genealogy.
Take our radishes. The tops like crazy, but when you dug in the dirt for the actual radish, nothing was there. When we look at the work of another genealogist, whether a family member that's also tracing your roots or a family tree found somewhere on the internet, it's important to look below the surface. Where did they get their information? Are their sources reliable?

My first aloe died because I gave it too much water. With my second aloe, I experimented with the water level until I found the best one. When searching a database for information on your ancestor, you probably want to put everything you know into the search boxes. Sometimes, you end up with no results. Try experimenting with the amount of data you put in the search to see if the results are different.

For a successful garden, you need to keep an eye out for things that can harm your plants such as weeds and pests and get rid of them. You should look at your family tree the same way. If you have erroneous information in your tree, you need to prune it. If you leave it, it can affect the direction of your research. You don't want to find out months after building an ancestral line that you have been chasing the wrong family the whole time.

Gardening is a learning experience. Genealogy should be as well. The more you know about what you're doing, whether it's planting a new flower or tackling a new research problem, the better your chance of success. Genealogy classes, webinars, conferences, blogs, books and articles are all excellent source for improving your genealogical research skills and learning new techniques. Ever if you are on a budget, there's plenty you can learn for little or no money out of pocket.

Happy gardening!


  • Lisa says:
    March 21, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Excellent analogy! Well done! I, too, started doing a little gardening on my deck. I grow my garden in my children's old turtle sandbox and call it Turtledeck Farm!

  • Mary says:
    March 21, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    Great analogy! I LOVED this post. We just planted 3 different squashes a couple weeks ago, can hardly wait for it to pop out! Zucchini, yellow summer squash, and crockneck squash.

  • Free Genealogy Resources says:
    March 21, 2011 at 7:42 PM

    Thanks for stopping by. This year we plan to add some more variety to our garden. I can't wait until it all starts popping up.

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