Recession Gardens - Part 1

Food gardening has exploded in popularity, driven by the bad economy and the demand for healthy, fresh food.

A little goes a long way - one seed company study says $50 in gardening supplies can yield $600-$1200 worth of food.

It's something our grandparents used to do during the war, but now we're trying it, planting so-called “recession gardens”.

Business is booming at area garden centers because vegetable gardening is way up in this country.

In fact, the National Gardening Association expects a 19% increase in food gardening this year alone, with an estimated 43 million people digging in.

So, what's behind the trend?

The preference of fresh food, worries over food contamination and of course, the economy.

This is nothing new though, during WWII, folks called them “victory gardens”. Americans supplemented their food with vegetables grown at home.

“This was helping the war effort. By you not putting a demand on the food supply, then you were helping win the war,” says Purdue Extension educator Phil Sutton.

From a fresh herb garden to a half acre of sweet corn, there's a definite increase in the amount of people gardening. Experts say no matter what you try, you can count on a lot of work but also big rewards.

Sutton says, “Do what you like first of all and sort of get your feet wet. I would think everybody could start with tomatoes, a few peppers, you could do lettuce. Lettuce comes up real fast early in the season ... and then take it from there.”

Vegetable garden themes are popular, such as a pizza garden, with tomatoes and herbs or a salsa garden featuring tomatoes and peppers.

Sutton says gardening goes beyond what's growing, it's the feeling that goes with it. “I would like to say it's an empowerment garden - you're making your own, you're choosing what you want to do.”

To read Part 2 of our series, "Recession Gardens," click here.

For Part 3, click here.

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