Gardening Season 2011

The 2011 gardening season has official begun…..yes I know it’s January and I know the season starts slow…..but it’s a start right? Gardening is a perpetual resolve at the close of a gardening season to dream of next year….just like the Brooklyn Dodgers fan’s lament each year of “wait til next year”…………….Well “next year” is here and now. Never too early to do some dreaming. What will the coming “gardening year” bring to our community and our gardens?

The median square footage of new homes is down around 9 to 10% from a few years ago in this new economy. Large porches, patios, decks, planting beds however have remained popular as “bonus rooms” that are affordable and add to a home’s desirable living space. An “extension” of the rooms inside the home. As many as 50% of homeowners have some sort of backyard or front yard garden. Call it “Biophilia” which is not a digestive supplement you get from the local pharmacist. It is a word coined by Harvard Entomologist Edward O. Wilson. He says Biophilia is an instinctive bond between humans and other living systems especially nature. Nature has the ability to restore both physically and emotionally.The backyard garden can also help with “connectivity” to your neighbors over the garden fence and the “community” that each of us needs over a common interest……the landscape and garden.

Here are the trends for 2011 according to the Garden Media Group……

  • Urban farming……sharing edibles with the “tribe”
  • “Growing Up”…..climbing plants or vines that provide screens, make good use of square footage and draw the eye upwards creating the illusion of space even if your workable area is small.
  • Indoor gardening…..according to NASA, who have studied this for long term space flight, you should have 1 plant indoors for every 100 square feet of living space. In a 2,000 square foot home that means 20 “houseplants” for healthy space.
  • Succulents…….drought resistant plants with thick fleshy foliage that store water like a camels hump. There is great variety with succulents and they’re easy to grow provided you don’t drown them with kindness.
  • Sustainable container gardening……”forever containers” that utilize perennials and landscape plants or vegetables and herbs. Here in Michigan I plant container plants in the ground in October only to dig them up and use them in containers again the next season.
  • Foliage in the landscape that “gives boom without the bloom.”
  • Edible ornamental plants…….mixing edible plants with ornamentals in the landscape. Using edible plants for landscaping purposes. In his book ‘Fast Food Nation’ Eric Schlosser recommends instead of mowing your lawn you should eat it……..
  • Eco-scaping……. low maintenance plants and techniques, plants that benefit and attract wildlife, attracting beneficial pollinators like butterflies, bees and birds.
  • Native plants

A trend I see in the garden is a strong desire for good reliable information on pruning techniques. It is a question I get many times over as a gardening consultant. People want to prune responsibly and intelligently to maintain their environments and keep their plants healthy yet natural looking at the same time. Eco-scaping by pruning to keep plants healthy, properly spaced and not taxed by congested or weak growth so plants are naturally sustainable without the use of remedies……like people dieting and staying fit except for plants.

In 2009 a whopping 41 million people (38%) in the U.S. grew some type of vegetable plants and 19.5 million (18%) grew some herbs. I believe the resurgence in vegetable and edible gardening is not a fad. Vegetable and fruit gardening is a beneficial rewarding “green activity” and not “eco-elitism” for the sake of one being viewed as a responsible green savvy consumer and neighbor. According to Garden Media Group 8 out of 10 people in all ages are incorporating some types of “green” behaviors into their life. “Living Local” (and I said local not “loco”) is your backyard and not just an attitude.

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