Discover a new era of vegetable gardening with these four trends.
Forget everything you know about vegetable gardening. Okay, maybe not everything. But this popular pastime certainly isn't what it used to be.
Growing edible goodies is easier than ever before, and it's becoming more appealing by the minute! Check out these four growing trends for vegetable gardening, and give them a try in your own backyard.
More Is Better
Charlie Nardozzi, senior horticulturist for the National Gardening Association, has seen the boom in vegetable gardening firsthand.
c"In the last year or so, edible gardening has really increased in popularity," he says. "Gardening is a way for people to come together, and with the current state of the economy, people are spending more time at home."
No wonder vegetable gardening is so popular. Not only is it easy, but it saves money, too. Plus, you know exactly what you're eating (no unknown chemicals or unexpected risk of salmonella).
So, don't just plant a single tomato plant. These days, more really is better. Besides, you can give the extra produce to friends, neighbors or donate it to a local food pantry.
Veggies and Flowers—Better Together
Gone are the days of separate flower beds and vegetable gardens. Let these plants grow together, and you will reap the rewards!
"Mixing vegetables in with flowers increases the color, texture and beauty of the garden or bed," Charlie says. "In the last 10 to 20 years, there have been an increasing number of attractive and ornamental vegetables."
Some of these include bright and colorful Swiss chard, globe artichoke, which has large purple flowers, and zucchini, which produces attractive yellow flowers. You can also plant edible flowers like pansies, which fit in well with all veggie plants.
Get Away From the Ordinary
Tomatoes have long been the most popular edible plant that people grow, but now more gardeners are stepping out of their gardening comfort zone to try something new. Kate Schaefer, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, grew her very first vegetable garden last summer. Some of the highlights in her small city plot included broccoli, potatoes, rhubarb, onions, spinach and beets.
"I grew beets solely out of inspiration from a dish at the restaurant where I work," said Kate. "I probably would have never gone out of my way to buy beets at the store and risk not liking them, but I had a great time learning to love them and be creative with them in my meals."
Kate sets a good example for all of us. Try broadening your garden by adding asparagus, squash, cucumbers or pumpkins. One of my favorite memories from childhood is picking pumpkins from the garden my dad grew in our backyard. I can't wait to try this with my own children someday.
No Room for a Garden? Try Containers!
There is no reason to be discouraged if you don't have room to put a plot in your yard—or if you don't have a yard at all, for that matter. Container gardening is a simple solution for anyone, whether you live in an urban, suburban or country setting.
"There has been a revolution in the kinds of containers available in the last 10 years," Charlie says. "You can have a little micro oasis anywhere."
Some of the newer containers on the market include plastic, lightweight and self-watering. The self-watering kind are particularly convenient because they enable people to go away for the weekend without worrying about their plants.
You can grow just about anything in containers, including vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers. They make it easier to protect your plants because you can move them around to a sunnier location or inside in case of frost. They are especially good for beginning gardeners, since taking care of one or two plants in a container is a much simpler task than tackling a large area.
Now that you're up to date on veggie gardening trends, it's time to get growing. What will show up in your yard this season?