Half of Americans?
In a December 17, 2008 press release reporting on the 2009 Garden Writers Survey, a Philadelphia based promotion group specializing in gardening related products and services, the Garden Media Group (GMG) says that, “more than half of Americans planted vegetables this year, and seed sales have more than doubled over last year.” (If you'd like to read the whole release, click on the following blue, underlined link: "Gardening Goes 'Back to the Future'.")
The GMG also said, “Lack of time and knowledge have been primary reasons people hesitate to garden. Not anymore. Novices and experienced gardeners hungry for inspiration, information, and instruction are packing master garden classes for instruction and gardening ‘how-to’ tips.”
Vegetable Gardening Is Popular
With the popularity of vegetable gardening in mind, and the evident demand for gardening information, we went looking for authoritative material that potential gardeners and as well as experienced growers could use. We relied once again on the information riches of the nation’s Extension Service, and using the ‘Growing Vegetables’ as our most successful search phrase, and a fair amount of patience, we came upon an online series published by the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension (UNH). (You can find this extensive series by clicking on the following blue, underlined title, “Home and Community Food Gardening.” The series is dated via copyright 2009.
The series introduction begins with an assessment of the amount of information even a beginning gardener could assimilate. “Each food crop has unique requirements for optimal growth. Most crops are susceptible to a host of insect pests and plant diseases.” After suggesting that beginning gardeners might want to team up as a kind of apprentice with an experienced grower for an initial season, the UNH continues with, “However and wherever you start, it's wise to start small and build on your success.” One very popular "small" activity is growing vegetables in containers.
Here is how the UNH outlines its series:
- Getting started: Site, soil, seeds and more
- Planting and Transplanting
- Ongoing Care
- Managing Plant Problems
- Harvesting and Preserving
- Using What You Grow
- Keeping It Safe: Food Safety for Gardeners
- Gardening with Children
Clicking on each of these titles (at the UNH website) brings up a single long page, many with photographs, that requires scrolling down. The material is extensive, but not so voluminous to be intimidating.
Growing Tomatoes, Growing Potatoes
A second series, this time published online by the Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service, dated February 2009, titled, “Home Gardening,” begins with brief quotes from Mississippi residents talking about their gardens. This introduction not only sheds a more personal light on gardening but also provides an insight to the differences in the size and scope of gardening. As are almost all offerings from the Extension Service, specific instructions are local—such as the timing of frosts—but the series can be used in a general way. Find it by clicking on the following: "Home Gardening."
This MSU offering provides a somewhat broader scope than the UNH series. Here’s the outline:
- Fall Gardening
- Garden Planning
- Herbs in the Garden
- Organic Gardening
- Weed Control
Note that although the series is dated February 2009, it has a heading on ‘Fall Gardening’ but not one for spring.
One of the quotes from the introduction sums up a consensus we’ve observed in other materials we consulted: “There is a great difference in cooking fresh food from that which has been picked for several days.”