Backyard gardens, container gardens, community gardens, Victory gardens … call them what you will, but the numbers of people engaged in gardening is projected to grow this year about as fast as the proverbial bean planted by Jack. The National Gardening Association projects 43 million U.S. households plan to grow fruits, vegetables, berries, and herbs this year – an increase of 19 percent over 2008. Another 11 percent of us plan to increase food gardening over last year’s levels. Why? Besides wanting to save money, we want better tasting, better quality, and safer food … and we seem to be willing to average about 5 hours of blissful gardening a week to do so. If you are like most, you are among the 91 percent who have food gardens at home. But some driven souls (5 percent) garden at a friend’s, neighbor’s, or relative’s property, and another 3 percent garden in community plots.
When planning your garden, think about this … 86 percent of gardeners plan to plant tomatoes, 47 percent cucumbers, 46 percent sweet peppers, 32 percent onions, and 31 percent hot peppers … sounds like we’re going to make tons of salsa this year! Another 28 and 24 percent will plant lettuce and peas, while beans and carrots will go into 39 and 34 percent of gardens. Be forewarned: if you delay your trip to the garden center or wait any longer to buy seeds, you may come up a few tomato plants short, or may not find that certain type of cuke you hoped to plant.
I placed two seed orders this year. The order from Kitchen Garden Seeds arrived within a week. But my other seed order seems caught up in this year’s gardening craze. When I contacted Pinetree Garden Seeds to find out why my order, placed a month ago, had not yet arrived, I learned the company had to hire 25 extra workers to handle this year’s seed orders.
So as my small packets of tomorrow’s veggies deftly move through the US postal system, I’m sowing some 2008 eggplant (Ichiban Imp), hot peppers (early jalapeno and Hungarian yellow wax), and Pruden’s purple tomato seeds, and will have soil-filled flats ready and waiting for the happy arrival of their 2009 cousins.