Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Answering a Reader’s Eastern U.S. Land of Promise – Part XVI: Growing Seeds

Continuing with David McKane’s comments on our blog and his maps and claimed area for the Land of Promise in the Great Lakes area.
    McKane writes: “Your climate and soil argument is silly.”
Response: You might want to tell that to the Pilgrims who nearly all died because they did not understand that seeds grown in Holland and England would not grow in Massachusetts. Had it not been for the Indians showing them how to grow plants in the soils and temperature of Plymouth, they would have perished.
     It is comments like this that show other people how little you know, yet you have no idea how uninformed that makes you look. When I was a kid, you could not grow plants (and I lived in Southern California where you can grow almost anything) locally from seeds that had been grown in other parts of the country. While the information on the back of seed packets today is more general and covers planting in a far larger area, when I was a kid, you had to pay particular attention to the location of origination and planting—they had to match or the plants either would not grow or did very poorly for a year or two until the plants got used to the change in soils, temperature, climate, etc. And this was especially true of seeds for food plants.
The Nephites, like all immigrants to a virgin land, relied heavily on the planting of their seeds to provide a food supply

    Since the food supply for Lehi’s party evolved almost solely around planting and harvesting, something few modern people ever consider, yet it is one of the most critical problems Lehi’s party would have had in planting seeds in an unknown environment (a new land) is the type of soil involved. As an example, when a seed is grown or developed in one type of soil, it requires that same type of soil to grow into a plant later. Since anciently, few people traveled, seeds grown in one area were always planted in that same area and there were no problems—however, when groups moved to new, virgin areas, they often had great difficulty, as did the Plymouth Pilgrims. Consequently, Lehi’s seeds came from Jerusalem, a Mediterranean Climate (Koppen Climate classification of Csa). 
    Mediterranean soils are soils which, by definition, form under Mediterranean climatic conditions, and have two well defined seasons in the year, with the rain period coinciding with low temperatures (winter) while summers are hot and almost completely dry. The main characteristic of the Mediterranean climate is the alternation of a moist cool winter and a hot dry summer exceeding generally 3 to 4 months. Expressed in terms of soil temperature and soil moisture regimes, sensu Soil Taxonomy (USDA, 1975) and updates (Soil Survey Staff, 2003), Mediterranean soils have:
• a xeric moisture regime (winters are moist and cool and summers are warm and dry), and refers mostly to groundwater where water is held at a tension level of less than 1500 kPa during certain periods of the year (to keep mesophilic plants alive), and whereby most of the rainfall occurs immediately after the winter solstice, and is followed by a relatively important dry period after the summer solstice;
• a cryic soil temperature regime which is thermic (mean annual soil temperature between 15°and 22°C), which is one of seven major temperatures in the world, and is intermediate between temperate regions and the tropics.
The Mediterranean Climate at 30º So. Latitude in coastal Chile at Coquimbo Bay and La Serena, is the only Mediterranean Climate in South America, and only the second in the Western Hemisphere—the other is in central and southern California

    As an example, when you sow seeds of vegetable root crops and some leaf crops and they fail to develop properly before going to seed, this is a condition called bolting—a condition aggravated by sowing seeds in soil that is too cold, sowing at the wrong time of year for that soil, seeding in soil that is too high in nitrogen or by sowing seeds in soil that is too wet. In the case of root crops, bolting is evidenced by the fact that foliage develops and the plant goes to seed before the root crop forms. Bolting of leaf crops is noticed in a similar fashion, in that few leaves form and the plant immediately goes to seed.
    To have avoided bolting, Lehi’s party would have had to sow their seed, “brought form Jerusalem,” in the same type soil as they had left in Jerusalem.
    The moisture of the climate for these Jerusalem seeds had to be xeric, which is one of eight soil moisture regimes in the world, and that of Jerusalem, which has the moisture coming during the winter when potential evapotranspiration is at a minimum, and is particularly effective for leaching. In a xeric moisture regime the soil moisture control section is dry in all parts for 45 or more consecutive days in the 4 months following the summer solstice, and moist in all parts for 45 or more consecutive days in the 4 months following the winter solstice. Also, the moisture control section is moist in some part for more than half the cumulative days per year when the soil temperature at a depth of 50 cm from the soil surface is higher than 5°C, or for 90 or more consecutive days when the soil temperature at a depth of 50 cm is higher than 8°C. The mean annual soil temperature is lower than 22°C, and mean summer and mean winter soil temperatures differ by 5°C or more either at a depth of 50 cm from the soil surface.
Even today, with all the advances in planting technology, seed packets still show the areas where the seeds should be planted, when, and how, so they grow best and produce the most yield

    In Jerusalem, grapes, olives, figs, almonds, dates, and carobs have been cultivated there since early times; Grains, legumes, fruits, figs, pomegranate, carob, vegetables, olive oil, wine, seeds, and tree nuts are a part of the "traditional Mediterranean” crops anfd produce grown since long before Lehi’s time and even today in the Jerusalem area. Since they have always been considered essential in the Mediterranean area, including Jerusalem, it is most likely that the seeds of these plants were among those that Lehi brought with him to the Land of Promise.
    In addition, one of the important crops to consider is the olive tree, which today 95% of the world’s olive cultivation occurs in the Mediterranean area, showing how few places in the world can grow olive trees, which is partially due to the fact that cold temperatures destroy the olive tree. Of course, any skeptic or theorists with an axe to grind (defending his own model and location) can say olive trees are not mentioned in the scriptural record; however, olive trees were essential in Jerusalem (and throughout the Mediterranean) and when Nephi tells us they brought “all manner of seeds of every kind, both of grain of every kind, and also of the seeds of fruit of every kind” (1 Nephi 8:1), there can be no doubt that Lehi’s seeds included those of the olive tree.
    For one thing, plants needing a Mediterranean Climate are easily and detrimentally affected by frost, snow and freezing. Year-round planting and harvesting is also possible in a Mediterranean Climate, unlike most other climes—especially those which have extreme winters, like the north-eastern United States, or extreme summers, like tropical and sub-tropical climes, as in Mesoamerica, or in Malaysia or Baja California.
The very unusual olive tree—something you won’t find growing in Utah, or any other area where the climate is not Mediterranean, certainly not in the Great Lakes or eastern U.S. They do best with mild winters and long, war, an dry summers

    The point of all of this, contrary to being silly, is that Lehi had to have planted his seeds in a matching climate to that of Jerusalem where his seeds originated: “we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem“ (1 Nephi 18:24).
    We don’t typically get this deep into technical aspects of proving a point, but the idea that many people have today, and not just McKane, but evidently all other theorists who have paid no attention to this factor of climate for where Lehi landed, far from being “silly” it was a life and death issue with Lehi’s party when they landed. In fact, after pitching their tents, it was the first thing Nephi says they did upon landing.
    One of the problems people face today, especially the younger generations, is that they evaluate the past the same way they see the present and believe me, there have been enormous changes in just my 81 years of living, let alone the hundreds and thousands of years between us and the Nephites. With modern growing techniques, knowledge and technology advances in our day, you can grow most things in most places (though still not everything), but that is a modern ability.
(See the next post, "Answering a Reader-Part XVII: Sea Currents," for more information on David McKane's model around the Great Lakes of his Land of Promise and our responses to his comments on our blog_


  1. This comment is not related to this specific post. I have "tagged" every Book of Mormon verse I could identify that has any reference to geography including types of food, climate, etc. I identified about 500. I have not identified a single verse that does not fully agree with the South America Andean region being the lands of the Book of Mormon. However, many scriptures contradict other theories of where the Book of Mormon lands were.

  2. Good point. Thank you. Too bad we can't get other theorists to do that. When I was studying the Book of Mormon initially about 30 years ago, I did the same thing, and listed them down by category, and as I studied from 1 Nephi on to see about their travels, etc., I compared these verses. That is what led me to eventually decide that the only place everything led was Andean South America.

  3. I have a true story of plants not being able to grow in a different climate / area / country.
    Even in the same state.

    My husband works part time for a non profit greenhouse, in Southeast Arizona. The greenhouse manager brought in some Agave plants that were planted in Phoenix, Arizona. The beautiful Agave plants were thriving in Phoenix. The manager thought the Agave would be a great addition to the greenhouse. The manager received permission to take some of the plants.

    The Agave plants were transplanted and are struggling, in Southeast Arizona, even in a greenhouse. The climate, temperature, and elevation between Phoenix and Southeast Arizona are very, very different. Yes, it is all desert. But there are many differences which affect both plants and animals. Phoenix is all Sonoran Desert. Southeast Arizona is where the Sonoran and Chihuahua Deserts start to meet.

    For this particular species of Agave Southeast Arizona is too cold.

  4. JK: An excellent example. Having myself grown up in Southern California and spent nearly my entire adult life there, growing plants, etc., then moved to southern Utah, whose climate is extremely different, I was amazed at how hard it is to get anything here to grow that is not grown here originally. We cannot transplant anything at all. One of our sons lives in Holladay (near Salt Lake City) and has a beautiful yard of great plants—at one time we dug up some (already growing and healthy) and brought them down to southern Utah and planted them—they all died. Trouble is, most people do not have those experiences and this this is "silly" to them; but the reality of it is very real and may someday prove to be a great learning experience for them. Your example is right on. Thank you.