New Gardeners! Why did you start?

ParmaJonApril 4, 2012

While browsing some garden and food blogs, I came upon some statistics about how many new veg gardeners there are. The timing of the uptick from 34% of us households growing veg in 2009 to 54% in 2010 coincides almost directly with the fall of Lehman Brothers, kinda interesting. I can say that the economy was definitely the reason I got interested in gardening, but not to save money. Work as a farm hand seemed to be the only non-service job I could get when I graduated in 2009, I thought it was a fall back, but it became my leading passion in life. What got everyone here into growing their own?

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Hi Jon,
I'm not brand new (this will be my fourth year gardening, but because I don't know anything, I still feel new ;-)

One of the verses that encourage me to garden , as a way to help out those in need.

Deuteronomy 15:11
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

I donate all of my vegetables to the local foodbank.

My first year I donated 700 lbs
My second year I donated 5160 lbs
and last year I was able to donate 9173 lbs

all of these vegetables were grown in the parking lot of my Contracting business, I have 1379 square feet of growing beds.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:22PM
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Hoschton(7-8 NE GA)

I've had a small garden ever since I was 8-9 yrs old (that was only about 57-58 yrs ago...). It's a hobby I've enjoyed all my life, mainly b/c I LOVE home-grown tomatoes! And nowadays, I grow as organic as possible to avoid GMO grocery store food and to have fresh, good-tasting,healthy food.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:24PM
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When I was small (8 years old or so) my father say "get up, if you eat you have to work too.
I have been gardening every year now on 40 something years.
I can still hear my father saying "you eat, you work"
My father believed in entitlement, if you worked you were entitled to eat, to bad he did not work in Washington,D.C.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:01PM
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I just like having fresh food. My goal also is to be able to provide enough vegetables for a year. It will take a while to get to that, but it's a goal. After that, we'll see my next goal. Probably take over the whole block and turn it into farming land, haha. That would be 100's if not 1000's of acres :)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:08PM
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scotty66(8 Hutto TX)

Growing up my Dad always had a garden and I always liked helping out with it. He would give me my own row to grow anything I wanted. When we visited my grandparents they had an even larger garden.
When I bought my first house in 2005 I put in a couple of small raised beds, 3 years ago I sold that house to take a job out of state and lived in apartments again. This past year the wife and I finally moved back into a house (albeit a rental) and I have a yard I can garden in.
It relaxes me, gives me tastey fresh food, and more importantly it somehow connects me with family.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 1:14AM
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I started gardening when I was maybe 12 because I thought it was fun. I had a small bed maybe 2x8 feet and tried tomatoes and peppers. It never really worked because I never took care of them well because I didn't know how to. I only did that for maybe 1 year and then didn't grow anything for a while. I grew a few tomatoes here and there after that but nothing big... Now we moved and I have a maybe 8x9 foot garden. I'm doing it because I want healthy, fresh food without pest/herb/fungicide residues on them. Organic foods are expensive, and although my garden is made with pressure treated wood, hopefully its still better fo me. :P I also find it fun and it gets me outside and making vitamin D.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 1:15AM
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A few years ago I had picked up a small half dead house plant and brought it back to life, discovering that I had inherited my grandfather's green thumb instead of my mother's black one. That inspired me put in a couple of flower beds and a vegetable garden, tilled with a shovel, that was about 8X15' and horribly overcrowded. It produced like crazy and we kept a few people in veggies for quite some time. This year I have a new house and since the outside was so neglected I am focusing on the flower beds and cleaning up along the tree line. My vegetable garden will be smaller, but I'm just happy to be working out there!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 8:10AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I'm not new, either, but it's a fun question to answer. I started gardening for a bunch of reasons. I love being outdoors, I like to cook, and fresh ingredients are always better (not to mention you can get many more flavors to experiment with growing your own), and to be more economical/independent. I too learned gardening from my parents and grandparents, though there was a good 10-12 years between the last time I helped my parents garden and I started my own first garden.

I think this recent increase of interest in gardening is not just driven by economics, but also an increased desire for health, whether it is to avoid eating food with lots of chemicals, or getting to eat fresh food with higher nutritional value, or just to get outside and get more exercise and sunshine. I like it. The more the merrier!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 9:54AM
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The past couple years I had tried growing vegetables halfheartedly. I never did any research and the plants either died on me or were quickly eaten up by insects. It seemed like every plant I touched was doomed. This year I really wanted to try to grow a green thumb. I bought some ivy for the office and hydrangea for the living room. They both stayed alive after two weeks so I expanded to vegetables.

I think the economy definitely played a role in my desire to grow my own food. That, and I don't want to be a sheeple anymore. I don't want to buy vegetables from the grocery store that have been flown in from different countries, or that have been genetically modified. It scares me that GMO products don't have to be labeled. I enjoy locally grown foods and this year I'll hopefully enjoy my own vegetables.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 11:15AM
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as a lover of food, there is nothing more fresh... also i am very anti pesticides/chemicals/etc...


    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 11:27AM
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My daughter has autism, and having her on the right diet is essential in her development. There is BPA in all the canned foods, and I go through so many tomatoes that I wanted an alternative. My mom taught me to can a couple years ago and last summer I was able to can enough tomatoes that lasted through about January, and these were only extras from somebody else's garden.

This year we've moved into a new house with a garden already setup! We'd been trying some container gardening, but getting minimal results (and now I know why after reading some posts here).

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 11:40AM
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Not a new gardener but will chime in as others have. I grew up with gardening and have done it all my life. I am still amazed at the miracle of the seed - that hard little thing that stays inert until the right conditions are met in which it becomes a plant. A plant that when eaten can sustain a human being's existence in the case of food plants, or an ornamental plant that can produce a flower that can make a human being put his entire existence on hold for a few seconds just to stop and enjoy its beauty.

Gardening is my connection to the past. I work the same land that my grandparents and parents did. I think of them and can hear their voices in my mind when I am out tending to the gardens. Their voices are my gardening knowledge - what they taught me to do and not to do to be able to successfully produce food year in, year out. How many "modern" people don't even have the basic knowledge or ability to produce their own food if they had ever had to? That thought scares me sometimes. You can have your iPods, your iPads, and your texting - I will keep my garden hoe, my compost, and my broccoli.

I am never more at peace than when I am working in a garden. Weeding is the ultimate stress-reducer because it it is the most brain-clearing, mind-numbingly boring thing to do and yet offers the greatest reward in happy, healthy vegetable plants that produce the best tasting, most nutritious food you will ever eat.

I can't even walk into the produce section of a big box grocery store because all I smell is the stench of chemically-laden, perfect, identical, blemish-free, utterly tasteless fruits and vegetables. Yuck.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 12:08PM
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vv79(7a VA)

My mother always kept a veggie garden and I helped with it for many years. So when I got my own place, it was only natural to start my own veggie garden. I'm going into my third year of keeping it now. So I didn't start gardening because of the economy. (But I was able to buy my townhouse because of the economy though!)

I love growing stuff I can eat. It's delicious and there's nothing more satisfying than supplementing my diet with food I've grown and harvested with my own two hands. I also find the maintenance and upkeep to be soothing. I like getting my hands in the dirt, weeding, etc -- it's very relaxing for me.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 12:45PM
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I may be a little different. I grew up in various apartments and was never around gardens. I started gardening because I like to be outside and active. However, I was never a serious gardener until all of the food recalls of the past few years caused me to research our food supply (from farm to table). I was appauled at what I found and made it my goal to grow most/all of our produce. If I can do this, then I can use the 'savings' to buy organic food and meats that I can't grow.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 2:49PM
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I had a garden when I was a teenager (15 years ago) but I never weeded/took care of it so nothing grew well. I've had two community garden plots a few summers ago, but it was difficult to take care of it when I had to drive to get there. We finally moved into a house last year, and I've really caught the gardening bug now. I've spent the whole winter researching fruits and vegetables, and the whole spring building raised beds out of concrete blocks. My dozens of fruit plants have started to arrive, and my front yard is becoming a mini-orchard. I live in the suburbs, so my neighbors all have grass with a few ornamentals, not too many gardens. Luckily, there's no homeowner's association so I can plant whatever I want.

It's not really a money issue, though homegrown fruit is a high return for investment. I just want my boys (2 and 4 years old) to play outside, grab some fresh food, and snack whenever they like. On healthy stuff, not the junk they get from the neighbor kid's refrigerators in their garages.

When I was growing up, we lived next door to my grandparents. Grandpa still has his huge garden, and I loved the fresh lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots that we harvested in the summer. I want my kids to experience that. I like the local food movement, too. It's nice knowing the food I grow doesn't need to be shipped from across the country, or across the world.

I need to put in a word about GM foods. Honestly, the foods themselves are NOT dangerous. The added genes are just proteins, they don't affect people, you eat and digest them like every other protein! I'm a biochemist, I know how they make them and what they do. Now, GM foods aren't the answer to everything. There are issues with lack of biodiversity of crops, costs to farmers, insects becoming resistant through farmers not following planting directions, etc. But! GM foods don't make people sick. Pesticides can. GM crops, grown properly, can reduce the use of pesticides.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 3:01PM
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Growing up, my parents owned 30 acres. (that is a lot where I lived!) They had a garden and plenty of woods to occupy my time. I had a tumultuous childhood and the land was my safe haven. As I grew and moved on with my life, I abandoned gardening and nature. Then, as life does, I was thrown a few challenges. I was a stay at home mom facing a divorce and requested employment at a local garden center. I remembered my love of nature and how it brought me through tough times. That was 15 years ago. My career is now thanks to my bond with nature and my garden is my place of peace and comfort. I love that no matter how old or how experenced you are, there always will be challenges and opportunity to learn. It is endless knowledge and understanding that the relationship that people have with nature MUST be symbiotic and to survive we must understand that.

As far as my vegetable garden goes, last year was the first year that I had the time and resources to build my new haven. My garden is a raised bed 30' x 40'. I was able to can fresh veggies for the entire winter for my family. My kids loved it and my wonderful husband has giggled and supported every effort. We had several "veggie cookouts" with the neighbors and marveled at the wildlife that the garden attracted.

It just doesn't get any better than that.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 9:56AM
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Fat boy's ^ gotta eat... that's why i do it.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 11:46AM
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Fun question -- really enjoyed reading the responses.

I grew up helping my Italian grandparents in the garden in this country, and sometimes living with my great aunts and uncles in Italy where we grew all our fruit, vegetables, chickens, eggs, and rabbits. The only things we bought there were cheese and bread. The flavors were incredible compared to store bought US food!

I started back into gardening on my own in 2007. Reasons: pure food, taste, outdoor activity, cost, couldn't find anything worth eating in a normal grocery store, and maybe over and above every other reason, I HAD to do it for some unknown reason -- the motivation just came on me so strong I could barely stay inside my skin that first winter, waiting for spring. (wish I'd known about 4 season gardening then!)

I grow all the veggies and most of the fruit we eat for the whole year now. We buy avocadoes, mushrooms and some fruit -- that's about it from the produce department. That strong motivation is still there -- I'll keep enjoying it and hoping it lasts a lifetime.

Jolj -- your dad was loosely quoting Captain John Smith when he became president of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia and was fed up with the lofty gentlemen refusing to work. My dad used to use that quote on us, too :)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 3:15PM
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Rathos(7b PA)

I'm really looking for the answer to this question. I'm finishing up a huge (to me) expansion from a 20x20 fenced in weed pile that produced some great veggies to a legitimate garden. I now have nearly 1200 ft^2 of raised bed space, and seeing the donation article from a previous poster was really awesome.

People ask me why I'm doing it - and I really don't have an answer for them. I just am. I could point to the green gene and disclaim that my family has a sizable wheat ranch, so it's in my blood, but I don't think that's it. Some people think I can/will/should make a profit from it - but that's the utter last reason on the list. I really don't know what got me started or propels me to continue.

I guess it's just something I feel the need to do.

Cheers =)


    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 9:59PM
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I used to have a bunch of fruit trees and lots of herbs when I was younger and I loved it. Then I had to move to a rented condo and I applied for a plot in a community garden. This January (9 years later) I got to the top of the list and I got to lease my 20' x 30' slice of paradise. I have worked at least 2 hours a day since then and have a very satisfying start. I am harvesting tasty salads of lettuce and carrots and spinach. I'm learning how to prepare the swiss chard that was in my plot when I started and I love it.

My neighbors in the garden are friendly and warm. Something about working in a garden I think. People share with each other and today a fellow gave me a huge red cabbage to take home. I'm just loving being able to get my hands into the soil, to pull weeds or plant seeds or mend the fence, it is all so much fun.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 11:58PM
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What got me started on this? For the most part I can't remember the 'moment' but I do remember one of the books---Square Foot Gardening. Of course, after I got used to the idea of things being on a 'manageable' scale I went nuts as I am wont to do on just about everything I've decided to do. That book has lead to the purchase of no less than 30 others, hours and hours and HOURS of prep work outside aided by the unlimited patience of a very supportive husband. As a society we have become so far removed from our food sources. Some of that is by choice I suppose but much of it is by lack of information. And there is so much information that it's impossible to get bored. Easy to get overwhelmed though and that's why I am always coming here. The knowledge on this site, from veggie gardening to fruit orchards has been priceless to me. I've gone from just two or three 'square feet' to more like 400sf. That's alot for me, especially since I live in a suburban area. I'd love to do more but for now it's enough. Thanks for your support everyone.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Like others, I had some experience gardening as a child (probably mostly looking at it though some growing) and then it sort of dropped off my radar as a career took over. Eventually, I started container gardening because my frugal self just couldn't stand the prices of fresh herbs in the market. Two years ago, I looked at the part of the lawn that I'd reseeded each year for 17 years after winter plowing damage and said "Could you dig it up into vegetable beds?"

Since then, I've learned a ton!

But the overall answer is because I love to create. I like to cook, I like to eat and I like knowing that what I'm creating in the kitchen has just-picked flavor and nutrition.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 12:57AM
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My experience gardening as a child was largely eating my body weight in peas from my grandparents' garden and in beans and cherry tomatoes from my parents' garden. I would occasionally help my mother with some of the planting but that was about it. It wasn't until my retired neighbor shared some of her fresh veggies with us that I realized there was nothing stopping me from doing the same. I started with a small raised bed with tomatoes and beans and this year am hoping to expand and hopefully grow a little each year as I learn. There's just something about being able to see, touch and even taste the results of your own hard work that can't be matched.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 6:54PM
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