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View Full Version : Dollars from dirt: Economy spurs home garden boom (It's official: We're now peasants!



megimoo
03-15-2009, 04:59 PM
Calif. -- With the recession in full swing, many Americans are returning to their roots -- literally -- cultivating vegetables in their backyards to squeeze every penny out of their food budget.

Industry surveys show double-digit growth in the number of home gardeners this year and mail-order companies report such a tremendous demand that some have run out of seeds for basic vegetables such as onions, tomatoes and peppers.

"People's home grocery budget got absolutely shredded and now we've seen just this dramatic increase in the demand for our vegetable seeds. We're selling out," said George Ball, CEO of Burpee Seeds, the largest mail-order seed company in the U.S. "I've never seen anything like it."

Gardening advocates, who have long struggled to get America grubby, have dubbed the newly planted tracts "recession gardens" and hope to shape the interest into a movement similar to the victory gardens of World War II.

Those gardens, modeled after a White House patch planted by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1943, were intended to inspire self-sufficiency, and at their peak supplied 40 percent of the nation's fresh produce, said Roger Doiron, founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International.

Doiron and several colleagues are petitioning President Obama to plant a similar garden at the White House as part of his call for a responsible, eco-friendly economic turnaround. Proponents have collected 75,000 signatures on an online petition.

"It's really part of our history and it's part of the White House's history," Doiron said. "When I found out why it had been done over the course of history and I looked at where we are now, it makes sense again."

But for many Americans, the appeal of backyard gardening isn't in its history -- it's in the savings.

The National Gardening Association estimates that a well-maintained vegetable garden yields a $500 average return per year. A study by Burpee Seeds claims that $50 spent on gardening supplies can multiply into $1,250 worth of produce annually.

Doiron spent nine months weighing and recording each vegetable he pulled from his 1,600-square-foot garden outside Portland, Maine. After counting the final winter leaves of Belgian endive, he found he had saved about $2,150 by growing produce for his family of five instead of buying it.

Adriana Martinez, an accountant who reduced her grocery bill to $40 a week by gardening, said there's peace of mind in knowing where her food comes from. And she said the effort has fostered a sense of community through a neighborhood veggie co-op.




http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/us/2009/03/15/D96UJF001_recession_gardening/

lacarnut
03-15-2009, 07:24 PM
Not only will the veggies taste better being home grown and save them money, it might send a few illegals back where they came from if this becomes a nationwide phenomenon. My dad had a large garden from the time I was a tot to the time he was in his 60's; he only had 1 leg to dig with. No tiller just a shovel.

Gingersnap
03-16-2009, 10:10 AM
I've been following this garden fad for a few months. I'm all for backyard veggie gardening and I do it relentlessly myself. The figures for "saving" on your food bills need to taken with a grain of salt, however.

Growing ultra cheap veggies like onions, potatoes, or cabbage is black hole financially. All these veggies take a long time to mature and they need to be adequately stored. If people want to maximize their food budget, they need to grow veggies that are relatively expensive or veggies that will produce multiple crops over the growing season.

Growing lettuces and other green, leafy salad veggies makes sense. You can have continuous production from April through October. You can also grow things that are more costly such as arugula, cress, and baby whatever. Green onions make sense for the same reason. Shallots are very expensive and you can save a lot by doing your own. Basil can be stored in a frozen pureed state to make sauces and soups.

Peppers are also a good deal for the backyard gardener if you are willing to dry, pickle, freeze, or can your extra. Peas are good if you grow enough to freeze or can. Herbs are good if you can dehydrate them yourself. I grow crocuses for the saffron and it's a very good deal. Tomatoes are good if you are willing to can the extra.

Summer and winter squashes are economical as are radishes and fancy carrots. Icibon eggplant is a better deal in terms of economy than the regular type. Kale and chard are good if you will really eat it.

Loser veggies include celery (too much work), melons and pumpkins (too much space and water), beets (are you really going to eat a bushel of them?), and a lot of beans (for the cost of the trellis you could eat beans for about 5 years).

Now, I personally grow various non-economical and loser veggies for my personal amusement but I don't view them as being cost-effective. So, people need to think a little before planting if they are doing it to cut food costs. ;)

PoliCon
03-16-2009, 10:52 AM
beets (are you really going to eat a bushel of them?)YES!!! :D LOVE those little beauties! Cook 'em - slice 'em - serve with sour cream :) YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY!!!

Gingersnap
03-16-2009, 03:55 PM
YES!!! :D LOVE those little beauties! Cook 'em - slice 'em - serve with sour cream :) YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY!!!

Ick. The point is: don't grow it unless you really love it. If you are growing it out of thrift, make sure it really is thrifty. ;)

PoliCon
03-16-2009, 06:25 PM
Ick. ick?? What kind of heathen are you that you don't like beets? I'll give you that pickled they get old - FAST - but there is more to beets that just pickled! If your bodily expulsions aren't turning red after you eat em - you're not getting enought beets in your diet.

Gingersnap
03-17-2009, 08:51 AM
ick?? What kind of heathen are you that you don't like beets? I'll give you that pickled they get old - FAST - but there is more to beets that just pickled! If your bodily expulsions aren't turning red after you eat em - you're not getting enought beets in your diet.

Beets are what tame food eats. Well, I guess small, tender children also eat beets in sugar-format.

PoliCon
03-17-2009, 10:03 AM
Beets are what tame food eats. Well, I guess small, tender children also eat beets in sugar-format.

Heathen! :rolleyes: