Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vegetables Rule!

planting your own vegetable garden
Seed sales, particularly of vegetables and herbs, are up very sharply this season. After years of declining veggie seed sales the whole cycle has reversed and we are experiencing tremendous interest from a new generation of gardeners who want to, for the first time, start a garden to grow food.
What I hear about from customers is a combination of factors:
-with layoffs, and worry about job loss being out of the individual's control, the positive act of making a garden gives you the sense of taking some positive action to manage economic uncertainty and control your own future.
-starting a food garden is a way of dealing with the high price of food and the need to watch spending carefully, given the bleak economic outlook and the reality of many having less cash to spend at the market.
-Many new gardeners have a real interest in eating more nutritious food and an interest in having organic produce without having to spend a lot of money to do it. I also think The Food Network has had influenced its viewers to be interested in where their food comes from; TV personalities like Jamie Oliver, "The Naked Chef", are very successful media advocates of cooking from the garden. What a treat!
-there is growing interest in knowing where your food comes from and not having to worry about if it is safe and healthy, especially given recent food safety scares about peanuts, spinach, salad etc.
-I see a trend for younger families wanting to become more self-reliant and to live simpler lives. I think young mothers have new interest in seeing nutritious food as an important part of raising healthy kids. My "30 to 40 something" customers view gardening at a healthy low-cost way to spend good quality family time together.

homegrown tomatoesI'm thrilled to see a new generation of gardeners get involved and get their hands dirty! We are an online catalog which gives us the opportunity to provide updated and interactive help on how to grow from seed, which is another area where these new gardeners want assistance.

The Renee's Garden Monthly E-newsletter we sent out in February included a good how-to article I wrote on Container Gardening from Seed and I hope it will be helpful for those who aren't sure how to go about getting great harvests from containers and small space gardens. Container growing is another trend that has increased almost exponentially in popularity

fragrant sweetpeas are a cool season flowerFor March I've decided to feature sweetpeas, since we have two new ones this season and flowers are, after all, food for the soul! I've given three talks on sweetpeas lately up in the Northwest -- I'm so pleased at the interest in my favorite flower. Nothing matches the scent of sweetpeas nor has their perfume ever been replicated. A bouquet of fragrant sweet peas really does perfume an entire room. Mbeautiful sweetpea flowersy mission is to convince gardeners who think they can't grow them to try them again -- or for the first time. It's a hard sell in some parts of the country, mostly because people don't realize they are cool season flower and need to be started extra early. I've been corresponding recently with great pleasure with Richard Parsons, head the British Royal Sweet Pea Society and it is such fun to chat with such a knowledgeable and respected font of knowledge on all things Sweet Pea. At his request, I sent him some of our newest variety, Zinfandel, and will look forward to hearing if he liked it as much is we have here.


gardenlover said...

It is true that interest in vegetable gardening is surging with scary economic times and various food scares, so that we all want more control over what we put on our tables.

But here in Alabama, we still want our pretty flowers. We still want to attract the birds, bees and butterflies. So, the Master Gardeners in our city are making a demonstration garden in partnership with the city. It will have herbs and blueberries but will focus on ornamental plants.

A circular mound in front of a bench will soon have a birdbath in the center and be surrounded by a profusion of Renee's Garden zinnias. Zinnias attract butterflies, you know, and Renee's Zinnia seeds have been the most attractive I've found. I can't wait to see how this turns out!

Renee Shepherd said...

Dear Gardenlover-
I totally agree that I am also a complete Zinnia fanatic. This season in our trial garden I am trying 16 new color combinations. So far, my favorite is purple, yellow and orange, which I am going to call Bling Bling. What do you think!
-Renee Shepherd

Concrete Jungle LA said...

Reene, Nice to meet you. I just purchased three packs of your seeds last night. I bought (and blogged about) your French Perfume Lavender, Queen of the Night Sweet Peas, and Magic Beanstalk Scarlet Runner Beans. Is it too late to start the Sweet Peas? Should I wait for next year? I live in downtown Los Angeles.

The Concrete Jungle

Renee Shepherd said...

Thanks for buying our seeds! It's getting late for sweet peas in LA, so plant them where they will get afternoon shade (if possible). In your area, it's best to plant them in the fall after Labor Day.

gardenlover said...

Purple, orange, yellow zinnias? Sounds amazing! Please post a picture if you can.

Anonymous said...

I'll be glad to post pictures of our purple orange and yellow cutting Zinnia combination when they are blooming later this summer. Right now we're still in the 40°F range at night so we won't be planting them for a month or so!

Sharon said...

I planted Zinfandel in November here in San Diego and just picked my first bunch- it's a deep, beautiful color and is now sharing a vase with some yellow ranunculas. I grow many of your other varieties but I think THIS is my new favorite-- and wonderfully fragrant!

Renee Shepherd said...

Hi Sharon. I'm glad you enjoyed the Zinfandel - it's is my favorite too..

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