Currently there are two distinct gardening mindsets at play. The homesteading and organic gardening movement has gained momentum. Sustainability, buying local produce, organic growing, and environmental issues are often in the media. On the other hand, there are those who employ gardeners and landscapers to do all the work so that they can sit back and enjoy the rewards. Modern gardening looks different than it did twenty years ago. So what do gardeners want, and is gardening a dying art?
A Keyword search looking for what gardeners want had me scrolling gardening tips, gardening for beginners, gardening 101 and along the way discovering the term ‘locavores.’ Having never heard this term I was intrigued.
Another article stated that gardeners want ‘turnkey’ gardens. Huh? This is all sounding a bit hoity-toity for the likes of me. I play in the dirt, and like pretty flowers. A healthy harvest of organic veggies is a bonus. I’m no fanatic or master. I dabble. Happily.
Further research led me to ‘movements.’ Locavores you see is part of the new ‘local food movement.’ A movement is a social or political term applied to a group of people who share a purpose to bring about change. So, locavores are a group of people bringing awareness to sourcing food and goods in your community.
Locavores are environmentally aware, practice sustainability, organic gardening, recycling, and downsizing. And of course, the term locavore originated in San Francisco, where else! Falling down the web search rabbit hole led to homesteading.
Homesteading where you are has also become a catchphrase in the local movement. The interest in farmers markets, organic produce, permaculture, back to Eden gardening, and backyard farming is very popular right now.
Homesteading where you are, in part, is making your food from scratch, preserving what you grow, growing enough to feed your family, animal husbandry (where allowed), backyard chickens, beehives, downsizing, using less energy, and practicing some of the almost lost skills of our elders. It also includes learning survival skills that are applied to your homestead day to day chores and tasks.
There are detractors of organic gardening and produce, who just don’t care about local economics or sustainability. There are also those vehemently against GMOs, animal antibiotics, high fructose corn syrup, and byproducts such as ethanol. There are extremists on each end of the spectrum, and people in between.
Searching on the internet for me usually leads me a merry dance. Beginning with a search for garden pests ends up at Mt. Everest and Base camp garbage! I wander, I click, I follow, I dip and weave, and I read. A lot. That is how I come to discover the oddest information about niche living.
There is too much information or disinformation for one person to disseminate. There is supporting documentation for whatever side of an argument you stand on. You have to make a judgment call on who is right, and who is not. You have to decide what your particular opinion is.
All of the movements for sustainability, homesteading, local food, backyard gardening, survival skills, and many others are all related to one another. They overlap and they support. This creates a huge pool in which to choose what will work for you.
Back to locavores! Maria Janowiak in the article ‘Gardening 101: Everything You Need to Know to Actually see Your Garden Grow,” defines a locavore as “interested in having greater access to healthy, high-quality food.” This includes “knowing where their food comes from and supporting the environment, and the local economy.” The locavore movement seems sound to me.
There has certainly been an uptick in interest in sustainability, environmental issues, pesticide dangers, GMO’s, and organic foods. National and Local media regularly spotlight these issues.
It is good common sense to support your local economy when possible. Local produce is often the same price or cheaper than supermarket pricing. Knowing where your food comes from and how it is produced and processed is definitely a benefit.
The whole food movement and a plant-based diet continues to go gangbusters. Buying organic milk, goat milk, or raw milk is expensive. A gallon of raw cow’s milk in the local Sprouts is fourteen dollars and some change. For a gallon of milk. I flinch when I pay $5-7 for a gallon of organic milk for my yogurt making.
If prices would come down I’m sure more people would shop at places like Whole Foods. I like the taste of a lot of the basic whole foods and produce, some people do not. A lot of people are simply uneducated or listless about food choices. Finding new whole foods to try is fun.
Tom Atwell in the article “What do most gardeners want? Low-fuss and sustainable gardens” points out that people want gardens that require little interaction and will remain looking good for a long time. Atwell asserts that you can’t have both.
The new customer now wants to reap all the rewards of a beautiful garden, without having to lift a finger. Gardeners and landscapers get hired to keep the garden in tip-top shape so the homeowner can “sit back and enjoy.”
This is in direct opposition to the way that homesteaders and backyard gardeners prefer to dabble. We like to get in there and experiment, and play, and dig, and plant… and stop and smell the roses.
It is a sad commentary on modern life when people prefer to pay someone else to maintain their gardens then use age-old skills to produce their own beauty and food. They also miss out on the health benefits gained from gardening.
Companies are now producing plants that require minimal care, maximum bloom, and repellent qualities. For some people, this is their solution. Plant it and forget it. Literally.
Do people not know that their gardens go through seasons too? Gardens don’t always look pretty. The time to prepare for next year’s harvest is during the cooler months. Spreading mulch, compost, and other natural fertilizers prepare the soil for next spring. Not to mention the cold weather plantings.
Again, a lot of people are just uninterested in anything related to traditional skills or gardening.
Gardening is a traditional skill. Modern gardening is augmented by computer-driven growing systems and handy apps for your phone. Information is literally at the tip of your fingers.
Watering is a breeze with self-timer and drip systems. This gives you extra time to tend your plants and plots. You no longer have to stand with a hose inefficiently and often incorrectly watering your plants.
There are fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and a literal plethora of additives on shelves. It’s enough to make your head spin. Try reading a gardening 101 post, and go from there, gardening does not have to be hard or expensive.
The tools of old are still the tools of today if you have a manageable sized garden. Of course, motorized and ride on tools make short work of large tasks. Making quick work of maintenance chores means more time mucking about in the garden.
GARDENS, GARDENING, AND GARDENERS
A fabulous article by plantedperfect.com showcases the different types of gardens there are. If you are unsure of what you want to do, start here. It will get the creative juices flowing.
A total of 11 different types of gardens are illustrated and explained. Within your plot you may have micro-climates better suited to a different type of garden.
Urban and community gardens are increasingly popular. This is the perfect solution for accessing fresh fruit and vegetables if you don’t have a backyard plot. You still get the benefits of working with other people to produce food for your table and community.
A small garden can produce a lot of food. So much that you will have to learn how to preserve it, or find ways to gift it to friends. One single tomato plant can get you through the entire summer and more.
A lot of vegetables and fruit can be planted in containers on a balcony. There is no reason why you can’t have pretty flowers and edibles through the growing season. You will still get the health befits of gardening.
A search looking for what gardeners want illustrated two different mindsets. One wants the benefits but prefers not to get their hands dirty, the other is conscious of the environment and food chain and wants to practice sustainability.
There is a huge increase in starting modern homesteading and ‘homesteading where you are’. Luckily there are a lot of good articles and influencers out there for beginners and experts alike.
Two great resources for gardening are YouTube and Pinterest. Being able to watch how things are done, learn the pros and cons, and be able to go out and practice these tasks happens at light speed today.
Not only that, but you will learn about permaculture, sustainability, organic gardening, back to Eden gardening, and traditional weekend gardening. You have so many choices.
It is relieving to know that gardening is not so much of a dying art as I thought. Back to basics is a growing trend, one that communities are getting behind. The skills of yore are still available to pass on. And for that, you should be grateful.
Grab a trowel, and go play in the dirt. It’s good for your soul.
How do you garden? What do you think about the opinions above? Comment below or drop me a line.
You may be amused to read about my total heirloom tomato failure this year.
Do you know who the nighttime visitors to your garden are,and how they benefit your garden?
- Beginners guide to gardening: https://greatist.com/connect/beginners-guide-to-gardening
- Turnkey garden: https://www.pressherald.com/2017/02/12/maine-gardener-what-do-most-gardeners-want-low-fuss-and-sustainable-gardens/
- The 5 best apps for gardeners: https://www.motherearthliving.com/in-the-garden/5-best-apps-for-modern-gardeners
- The Many different types of gardening, gardens, and gardeners: https://plantedperfect.com/blogs/gardening/38417028-the-many-different-types-of-gardening-gardens-and-gardeners
- 40 gifts for gardeners: https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/152987/list/40-great-gifts-for-gardeners
- 10 steps to becoming a locavore: http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/344/locavore.html
- 45 ways to homestead where you are: https://www.newlifeonahomestead.com/how-to-homestead/