Recession Victory Garden
I remember the year I tried to grow tomatoes. I dug a new bed until my hands blistered. I mixed dried manure and peat into hard clay, planted seedlings and used soft cloth to tie the vines to stakes so as not to cut into the delicate stems. By the end of summer I harvested about three tomatoes, the most expensive vegetables I've ever eaten. This year maybe I'll give it one more try, in a far sunnier spot. (There's one lesson learned the hard way.) It seems to be what everyone else is doing.
Demand for vegetable seeds is up about 22 percent over last year, says George Ball, chairman and chief executive of the Burpee seed company. "That's astounding," Ball said in a phone interview. It follows a similar jump that happened last year, but he said they had thought that increase was only a blip in demand. Remember the Great Salsa Scare of 2008, when e-coli threatened America's favorite tomato/cilantro combo?
The National Gardening Association says about 19 percent more households plan to grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs this year. And more than half the people they surveyed said they were doing it to save money on food. Indeed, it doesn't appear to be just a generalized outbreak of green thumb fever. Sales of flower seeds are flat to down, according to a number of retailers I spoke with.
Times surely are tough if people have quit growing flowers.
In the Washington area it's safe to plant seeds outdoors after about the third week of April, according to Walt Yates, a spokesman for Park Seed Co. But avid gardeners are already getting seeds started indoors. (Take a look at this calendar of other gardening tasks by month.)
Seed retailers are cultivating (groan) the Victory Garden trend, of course. Burpee is pushing its Money Garden which it says has enough seed to grow $650 worth of beans, lettuce, peppers, carrots, sugar snap peas and tomatoes, all on a tenth of an acre.
Before you get started, though, check out the cool Kitchen Garden Planner online tool from Gardener's Supply Co. Maybe if I had that I wouldn't have wasted all my effort on three piddly tomatoes.
Usually, when you're talking about how landscaping adds value to a home, you're talking about flowers, trees and other greenery chosen for looks -- in other words, curb appeal. Vegetable gardens traditionally are tucked out back. But perhaps in these times a healthy stand of home-grown spinach is a selling point?
Are you contemplating a food garden? Do you have tips to share with others who might be considering such an addition? Tell us about it.
Posted by: laura33 | March 12, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: organicjoe | March 12, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: organicjoe | March 12, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: henry10 | March 12, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: StephanieInCA | March 16, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jimward21 | March 18, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.