Veggie Rookies, Once and Done?
October 20th, 2010
I’ve been hearing for the past two years about how many folks are giving vegetable gardening a try for the first time.
That’s been great news for many reasons (cost savings, fresh food, better taste, better nutrition, more productive use of land than grass, good exercise, etc.)
Especially gratifying is how many young folks are giving this a shot. Veggie-gardening had almost become a lost skill before the twenty- and thirty-somethings scratched their heads and wondered why everyone wasn’t growing at least some of their own food.
But wouldn’t you know it, just when all of those newbies got into it, nature dished out one of the worst growing seasons in years.
The heat was so oppressive for such a big part of summer that pollination of some crops shut down. We also went long, growth-stunting periods without rain, then got hit with a couple of drenching storms that led to fruit-splitting, leaf disease and plant blow-overs.
That’s on top of the usual challenges of groundhogs, rabbits, deer, voles, beetles, cutworms, caterpillars, squash vine borers, tomato blight and so on.
What I’m wondering is how many first-timers are going to say, “Well, that wasn’t easy!” and just pack it in for good.
I’ve heard a few rumblings in the industry that the veggie revival already has peaked. That would be a shame. But no one really knows at this point.
I’d like to find out, and so would Steve Bogash, Penn State Extension’s regional vegetable specialist.
Steve and I have put together a 15-question online survey in which we’re asking new veggie and herb gardeners questions such as what problems they ran into, what they tried growing, how they tried growing it and the biggie, whether they plan to keep trying.
If you’ve tried growing herbs or vegetables for the first time within the past 5 years, please go to this link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VS62KR2 and take the survey.
Spread the word to other first-timers, too. We’d like to get as much feedback as possible. The survey will close Nov. 19.
I’ll report on the results here and in the Patriot-News, and Steve and I also will share the results with other interested media and garden-industry sources.