Hot Topic: Growing New Gardeners

As mentioned before, I’m working on a re-design of this site for 2011.

Essentially, I want to streamline the content and make it more user-friendly for would-be gardeners and folks generally interested in the “victory garden” phenomenon. (I also plan to translate part of the site into Spanish. Any volunteers to help with that?)

Along the lines of the redesign, I asked on Facebook this week:

What are ***your*** ideas/thoughts/suggestions on how we can engage other new, upstart gardeners with the concept of Victory Gardening in 2011?

Some answers:

If you stress the price comparison of buying vs growing, knowing where your food comes from, knowing that your food will not be recalled, and how gardening can be a stress reliever, I think you can convert some people to garden. With the food prices skyrocketing and fuel prices too, people are cutting budgets. – Bonnie Williams

I like the idea of promoting apartment gardening. So much is attainable with a simple flower pot. Yes, apt gardening has many obstacles. Unsupervised children is naming one and I’ve got four years experience with this. Alleviate this by bringing them into the garden! I refer to them as ladybug co-pilots and worm wranglers. I teach them about beneficial bugs and how to be gentle in the garden. I also give them vegetable seeds for their own pots. We’ve removed children from gardens just as we’ve removed vegetable gardens from society. The Dinner Garden is one nonprofit setting out to change this. The more apartment managers who join this, the merrier! – Julie McClaren, aka “The Seed Whisperer”

I think that teaching people how to garden without having to weed and plow will go a long way towards encouraging people to give gardening a try. Many people have memories of helping in their parent’s gardens at a time when gardening was a lot of work and very little fun. When people learn that gardening does not necessarily mean straight rows of crops and weed pulling by hand, they seem to be willing to give it another look. – Holly Hirshberg

What say youon this topic? Kindly respond here or, if you’re like most of this blog’s fans, you’ll chat with me on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. I am a new subscriber (within the last couple of days) and have just started to explore the site. My maternal grandmother was a young bride and mother during WWII, and while I was growing up, she told me stories of the Victory gardens, rations, and other ways she and her counterparts made the most of what they had in those days. She taught me a great many things, and I am grateful for the years I was able to spend in her company.

    I thought of these stories more often during the last year after the economy took a turn for the worse. I began to reject the idea that I needed to BUY. I resented the fat cats, and began to think of ways I could be more self-sufficient. I dreamed of living off the grid. And then six months ago, I was laid off.

    While I am not quite ready to live off the grid, I HAVE resolved to start a garden this year. And this resolve is what led me to your site. I am doing everything I can to save money this year, and I relish the thought of growing some of my own food! I am in the beginning stage of research, but here are my fears/unknowns/questions:

    I don’t know anything about dirt. The whole Ph-alkaline-manure-compost-rotting leaves thing leaves my head spinning. I could use some basic instructions here for soil preparation. Obviously, the cheaper the better.

    Is there a good technique to figure out how much sun your garden spot gets in the summer (aside from study during the actual summer months). I’m sure I could figure it out, being relatively intelligent, but if there’s a “trick” to it, I’d love to know more!

    What are the best vegetables to grow for a beginner? Does it depend on my geographic location?

    Should I start vegetables from seed? Or, the little plants you get from the nursery? If using seed, do I start them inside, in the little egg-carton looking things? Or, do I just put the seed in the ground?

    Should I buy seeds online? From my local garden shop?

    What about watering? How can you tell you’ve watered long enough, provided the correct amount? How do you “measure”?

    Do any groups exist that match knowledgeable gardeners willing to teach beginners?

    These are the “newbie” questions I have for the most part. I’m betting I will find a lot of this information in the days to come, but I thought the information might help form an impression of what a COMPLETE newbie might be interested in knowing. I did help my mother and grandmother plant things when I was little, but didn’t learn much of the technical detail. (I was an excellent “dirt scooper”, when provided with my favorite silver iced tea spoon!)

    I MUST have a green thumb somewhere in my body….my mother grew beautiful plants, her mother and father did too, and my father’s family were ALL farmers in Illinois – my uncle still runs the family farm (corn and soybeans) and I LOVED dirt, plants, and the outdoors when I was a little girl. I just need to re-awaken that connection!

    Thank you for the wonderful site and information provided, I plan to stop in frequently 🙂


    PS Sorry for such a rambling post. Ideas to engage new subscribers:
    Appeal to their distaste/hatred for corporate America.
    Appeal to the unemployed set. We have lots of time on our hands, and are desperate for ideas to save money.
    Appeal to those who shop at natural grocers. Why pay for what you can grow in your own backyard?
    Appeal to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, group homes, day cares, SCHOOLS, prisons. What a beautiful, therapeutic activity…there are all sorts of ways one could contribute to a garden in a team atmosphere. The food could be donated to those in need.
    Appeal to 4-H and FFA groups to get involved in their communities via assistance with creation of victory gardens.
    Appeal to agriculture students at colleges and universities to start groups dedicated to educating their peers about growing their own food.
    Appeal to those living a raw food lifestyle.
    Appeal to those interested in the “retro” or, “rockabilly/pin up” culture. There are many women in this general group who are fascinated with all things WWII/40s/50s culture.

  2. What about drawings that show you a plan of what you can do with various sizes of pots or sq. ft.? If you have 4 12-inch pots: herbs, peppers, dwarf cherry tomatoes. Here’s what you can do with a 4′ x 6′ bed, here’s what you can do with 50 or 100 sq. ft., etc.

  3. Wow. This is great stuff, ladies.

    Wendy – I’m going to try to work up a post/response just for you. Give me a few days, okay? =)

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