Every spring I call around to my friends in the nursery business and ask them how the season is going for them. Over the past three years there have been reports ranging from very good to fantastic with an increase in sales of herbs and vegetable plants.
Recently, I had the pleasure of discussing gardening with one of the experts in the growing industry, Davy Wright of Wright’s Nursery in Plantersville.
We talked about why the industry has taken an upswing while many other industries are floundering. It seems a few businesses seem to do well, if not better, during economic hard times. Traditionally, when the economy is slow, folks don’t spend as much money on big-ticket items or long-distance travel. People typically stay close to home and make do with, or make better, what they already have. Home improvement increases, paint sales go up and so does the sale of plants.
One of the big focuses during tough times is on home landscaping and curb appeal. It’s easier to enjoy a home when it looks good and it’s easier to sell one getting positive attention from the street.
Bedding-plant sales soar, as well as edibles. Also, more and more people are realizing it’s about as easy to maintain vegetable plants as it is flowers. In fact, over the last several years, I have interplanted chili peppers, tomatoes, basil, onions, savory, rosemary and many other edibles with flowers in the front yard. It started a trend in the neighborhood and now many other folks realize vegetables and herbs don’t have to be planted in rows like a Midwestern farm. They can be every bit as pretty as flower gardens when they are grown within the same beds as companions.
A couple of years ago, I read an article that got my attention. It was entitled, "Veggie Tales – Home Gardens Grow in Popularity" and was written by Darryal Ray. Although the article was very informative and well written, there was a quote in there by one of our educators with the Extension service suggesting one can’t expect to save any money on growing their own food if they take into account the time and expense involved in preserving the food.
I strongly disagree with that. Perhaps more attention should go toward educating folks on simple economics. Perhaps "how to do and buy the necessary items for food preservation in a frugal way" should be offered as a course in the Master Gardener program.
Another good friend of mine, Dr. Bill Grantham of Troy University, told me in his anthropology research it was discovered, during hard economic times, even in ancient civilizations, more food was wasted. When I asked why, he explained people tried to use cheaper cuts of meat and lower-grade vegetables to save money, but ended up throwing more out.
Cheaper isn’t always better and, besides, how much exercise is involved in buying a can of beans off the grocery store shelf? How much education can you offer children about the science of making vegetables grow?
Gardening just makes the best sense all around. Grow something positive. Go and grow a garden!
Next month we’ll discuss beneficial insects.
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