There are many reasons, but the economy tends to be the largest contributor to those who are new vegetable gardeners the past two years.
There are many reasons for people to raise their own food. The question that is often asked is if it is really worth it. I am not sure that you can equate the actual work that is put toward planting, watering and pulling weeds in the vegetable garden - and then there is cleaning the produce as well as canning or freezing it for the winter.
It provides a free workout in an environment that has a natural, beautiful setting. I am sure that your blood pressure must drop a notch or two after you have pulled some weeds after a bad day at the office.
I have found, working with many who are new to this vegetable gardening way of life, that their reasons for gardening for the first time are as varied as they are people. From "it will give my kids (or day care kids) something to do this summer," to healthy eating, to exercise, to being one with nature and, yes, to save some money as well.
I think to my family, all of these reasons would apply but probably most importantly is taste. There is nothing like cracking open a jar of canned tomatoes to make homemade tomato soup on a cold January day or on a rainy day for that matter.
There is nothing canned or frozen out there that can compare to the taste of freshly-grown, ripened-on-the-vine tomatoes. And how about that sweet corn, just barely ripe, with butter dripping down your chin? Raspberries that are warmed by the sun and the smell of dill as its scent wafts up to your nose as you brush past it on your way to other things in the garden.
Vegetable gardening for those who are new to this way of life are often afraid they will kill something off in the garden or it won't turn out at all. Or maybe, they didn't plant something right and it won't come out. If you are a seasoned gardener and know of a new gardener, take those first steps and ask them how they are doing with their garden; they will appreciate it more than you know.
These are lessons that we seasoned gardeners have learned, most often by our parents or grandparents side as we worked with them in the garden.
However, the generation that is trying their hand now at gardening didn't always have someone in their family that was gardening. The questions that are often asked are basic ones: how do I get started; how deep do I plant this; how much water does this plant need; and my favorite: Is this a weed?
Gardening, whether it is flower gardening, vegetable gardening or a mixture of both, can be a relatively simple project and starting small, getting your feet wet, is the best way to get started. My first garden was only about one-eighth of an acre and my first flower garden was half of that. I was 12 years old when my family said I was old enough to do it on my own. Of course, I had one set of grandparents and a farming dad who had my back on what was going right and, yes, what was going wrong.
Somewhere between being a child and becoming a teenager, I stopped looking so much at my grandfather's garden and he spent more time looking at mine. And even though I have spent more than half of my lifetime sitting in a garden somewhere, I still wish I had my grandfather or my father to ask, is this a weed?
For more about gardening, you can reach me at Stephanie@starpoint.net