Thursday, June 5, 2008

How does your garden grow?

More Americans are growing their own vegetables (free WSJ Digg link).

As consumers balk at the rising cost of groceries, homeowners increasingly are cutting out sections of lawn and retiring flower beds to grow their own food. They're building raised vegetable beds, turning their spare time over to gardening, and doing battle with insect pests.

At Al's Garden Center in Portland, Ore., sales of vegetable plants this season have jumped an unprecedented 43% from a year earlier, and sales of fruit-producing trees and shrubs are up 17%. Sales of flower perennials, on the other hand, are down 16%. It's much the same story at Williams Nursery, Westfield, N.J., where total sales are down 4.6% even as herb and vegetable-plant sales have risen 16%. And in Austin, Texas, Great Outdoors reports sales of flowers slightly down, while sales of vegetables have risen 20% over last year.

One of the people profiled in the story devoted almost 1/4 of her yard to a garden. That is commitment.

I wonder if there are any home owner association rules against large gardens. Some associations have rules against solar arrays on roofs, and rules against windmills in yards, so rules against large gardens could be another hurdle to overcome.

When I was a child, a neighbor had a very large garden in their backyard. The produce and vegetables it produced tasted much better than the store bought stuff. Of course, the better taste still didn't make me want to eat vegetables.

The article offers tips to starting a garden, including soil testing and optimal placement of it in a yard.