Whether you're a well-experienced kitchen garden owner or trying a few crops in some patio pots for the first time, you'll know that nothing beats homegrown veggies. And, the appreciation for growing your own goodies seems to be spreading across the masses fast, as the National Gardening Association (opens in new tab) has found that record numbers of Americans are now turning their plots over to cultivate fresh food.
The research has revealed that 35 percent of US households – with more than 18 million new gardening converts among them – now raise vegetables, fruits and other food, with the average garden now yielding $600 of produce in a year.
New converts to vegetable growing
Where are all these new vegetable growers in the US coming from? 'We see a lot more millennials as part of the new gardeners and a lot more men,' says Diane Blazek, Executive Director at the National Garden Bureau and All-America Selections (opens in new tab).
'And now, with inflation, more people want to grow their own food to save money. We find that this happens every time there's a recession or excessive inflation.' In short, it's a great cheap garden idea for providing an abundance of tasty, healthy food.
Favorite things to grow
Growing tomatoes is the most popular crop to try in the US. 86 percent of gardeners say that they raise these useful and versatile plants, which suit any sunny spot, from a purpose-built glasshouse to pots on a tiny city balcony.
After tomatoes, the favorite veggies for growing include cucumbers – found in 47 percent of US vegetable plots; sweet peppers (46 percent); runner beans (39 percent); and carrots (34 percent).
New ways to grow veg
Ornamental edibles and drought and disease-resistant varieties that survive in tough conditions are all helping to transform vegetable growing, as is the notion of growing vegetables in pots.
'People want to garden, but they don't have the room like before, so container gardening is growing in popularity,' says Diane. 'Breeders are responding by breeding varieties that do well in containers, like Pepper "Pot-a-Peno" (a pepper plant that produces in a hanging basket), "Squash Goldilocks" – a bush-type squash, and Pea "Snak Hero".'
Diane also mentions ornamental edibles that look beautiful in a landscape or patio pot and are delicious too. 'There are so many now, like blueberry "Midnight Cascade" – a blueberry plant that works in a hanging basket, and "Little Miss Figgy" [pictured below] – a mini fig tree that can be grown in a pot.'
Jayne Dowle is an award-winning gardening, homes and property writer who writes for publications including Sunday Times Home, Times Bricks & Mortar, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and The Spectator. She was awarded the Garden Journalist of the Year accolade at the Property Press Awards in 2021.
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