2dfeb49994c76691b4b46b995bd083a4

Only two or three years ago gardening was pronounced dead. 

 

rvanderhoff.jpg

The baby boomers, who had grown up playing in the yard - and often in the dirt, were growing older, replaced by Gen X’ers, who instead, had grown up with video games, iPods and walkmen. Trips to the nursery gave way to trips to Starbucks.

Dirt was dead! Planting seeds and mulching were quickly becoming as much a part of people’s lives as churning butter or milking a cow. We, those of us who likely read this column, were an aging, shrinking group. Sure there were still a few stalwarts, tending to their backyard plots; digging, planting, weeding and watering. But, like our tomatoes, they were heirlooms, to be admired but not to be emulated; a symbol of a past era.

Why garden when supermarkets, Whole Foods, Grower’s Direct and Henry’s are overflowing daily with fresh selections? Grapes in December, plums in winter, lettuce in summer; strawberries, cantaloupe and grapefruit any day of the year.

Something has changed. Today, home gardening, especially with edible plants is suddenly “hip” again. It seems like everyone is digging and planting. In Washington, Michelle Obama is setting out her cucumbers. In Sacramento, Maria Shriver has marked off the plot of land for her new vegetable garden. Apartment dwellers are filling their balconies with pots of tomatoes and herbs. Community gardens, recently being shuttered, now have lengthy waiting lists.

shovels.jpg

Why is growing one’s own food so suddenly popular again? Theories abound, including a trend toward local production, worries of pesticide residues, and tainted food recalls from diseases like e-coli. Other conjecture centers on economic realities and peoples desire to save money on expensive fruits and vegetables by growing them at home. These are all sensible explanations.

But I suspect the recent return to the soil for many people has more to do with emotional reasons and less to do with practical reasons.

Why do I garden? I garden because there is something magical about touching the soil, about the smell of the earth. The sunshine on my shoulders, the breeze at my back, the bees buzzing and birds singing takes me far away from my other daily concerns. I suspect I can’t do much about Wall Street or Afghanistan today, but I can do a lot about my row of carrots or how many ears of corn I want this summer.

I garden because I am impatient. Gardening helps me learn to wait. I wait for seeds to become seedlings, for seedlings to grow into plants, for plants to bear fruit, for fruit to ripen and for the harvest to become the meal.

I garden because, when I eat my meal I enjoy the sense of accomplishment I get in seeing the fruits of my labor before me, and of sharing the stories that are behind each of them.

I garden because it gives order to my life. When I garden I surrender to the rhythm of the seasons and the rhythm of the day. I yield to nature; to the interconnectedness of soil, water and air and to the total indifference that nature holds for my frail desires and demands. I am the student. Nature is my teacher. My garden is the classroom.

I garden because I’d rather have a backache than a headache.

I garden because of the satisfaction and serenity that fills me during those moments when I pause long enough to enjoy the beauty and bounty of my efforts.

I garden not so much for practicality as for spirituality. But for a while at least, too busy students, no space apartment dwellers, stressed out businessmen, moms, dads and even children are out playing in the dirt again, sometimes even all together as a family. Whatever the reason, somehow I think that’s a good thing.

Why do you garden? Is it for practical reasons, emotional reasons, a health reason or some other motivation? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a note at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I’ll share some of your answers in a future column.

Questions from Readers April 25.

Question:
 
What plant food should I use in my ORGANIC vegetable garden?

Sue, Costa Mesa
 
Answer:
There are as many brands of fertilizers on the market as there are varieties of vegetables. I also garden organically and I use the Dr. Earth line of fertilizers. Dr. Earth contains beneficial microoganisms right in the box. All organic fertilizers encourage soil life and help build a soil food web, which is essential to long term plant health and plant nutrition, but Dr. Earth just does it a little better than some of the others. 

Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar.


Plant Care Reminders

Plumeria Monthly Plant Care
Trees Steve Brigham

Plumeria spp (Plumeria) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Gardenia Monthly Plant Care
Shrubs Julie Bawden-Davis

Cape Jasmine (Gardenia augusta) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Avocado - Haas (Persea americana…

8728 Steve Brigham
Avocado Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Borago officinalis (Common Borage) -…

2982 Coastal Sage Gardening
Borage Monthly Plant Care Reminders
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Beet, Edible (Beta vulgaris) - Monthly…

2552 San Diego Seed Company
Beet Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Gardening Articles

Seasonal Gardening Ron Vanderhoff

Dahlias Planted now will Flower all Summer and Fall

"Dahlias are back in fashion", said the magazine title.
Greg Rubin
Expert Bios Greg Rubin

Greg Rubin - Southwest

Region: Southwest

Vegetable Seed Planting time for coastal southern California

19754
Ancho Peppers
Walter Andersen was kind enough to let us publish this seed planting chart from his…

A Fifteen Minute Gardening Break

4424
Western Bluebird
I was working in my garden a few minutes ago, preparing the soil in a new planting area.

Gardening on Paper

3824
Carol Mccray
The glossy garden catalogs have begun to arrive in the mail. Perusing these publications…

Plant Recommendations

Arbutus unedo
Plant Recommendations Maureen Austin

Shrubs or Small Trees for Birds & Butterflies - Southern California

Maureen Austins' Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Shrubs or Small Trees for Birds & Butterflies for Southern California.
Choose the right marathon sod
Plant Recommendations whittier fertilizer

Choose the Right Marathon Sod for Your Garden

The main reason for the proper selection of Marathon Sod products is that each variety, Marathon I, II and III produce different rates of growth.

Trees - Southern California

4276 Phil Tactill
Ginkgo biloba
Phil Tactill's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Trees for Southern California.

Shrubs - Southern California

8404 Bill Homyak
Salvia guaranitica 'Costa Rica Blue'
Bill Homyak's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Shrubs for Southern California. 

Gold Ivies - Southern California

5806 Pat Hammer
Hedera helix 'Golden Ingot'
Pat Hammer's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Gold Ivies for Southern California. 

Featured Plant Care

Douglas Iris

Iris douglasiana - (Douglas Iris) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Kangaroo Paw Monthly Plant Care

Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Cymbidium Orchid Care

Cymbidium Orchids - Care in southern California

in Orchids
Cymbidium Orchids are so rewarding. Cymbidium Orchids come in so many colors and shade,…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977

Latest Articles

Edit Your Tagged Photos!

How to Edit or Remove A Plant "Tag" In Your Garden Photos

Instead of 'Tagging' your friends on Facebook, now you can 'Tag' your Plants in your…

Popular Articles

Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…
Kahili Ginger Plant Care

Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)