A pretty garden behind the Stone Cat Cafe in Hector, NY, where we just were.
You can call me a Pollyanna, an ostrich, or a cockeyed optimist, but please don’t call me a recession gardener. For months now, we’ve all been seeing headlines like this in the lifestyle pages of the newspaper: “Vegetable garden can yield savings with tighter budgets,” “Plant a vegetable garden and get your groceries from your back yard,” or “Vegetable Gardens Can Save Big Money.”
Though there’s some debate over how much cash a vegetable plot will save you, these exhortations somehow don’t seem quite so depressing as the pro-gardening rhetoric I saw in my local paper yesterday. In it we hear these sober thoughts from a local carpenter, “I was going to put rose bushes,” he said, pointing. “But this year I’m thinking peppers— hot peppers—some tomatoes, carrots.” It’s good to know that our local nurseries are doing well, at least in the seed aisles, but positioning food gardening as a measure of last resort and something that former ornamental growers are driven to out of desperation is a bit too much for me.
Not stopping there, the article also raises the specters of salmonella and pesticides, as well as quoting the same NGA and Burpee seed-buying surveys we’ve been hearing about for months (I’m always a bit leary of industry-conducted surveys). The joy of planting and tending is barely touched upon, and then there is the stark either/or equation between ornamental and food growing. It’s always been my impression that the two are best done together, for many reasons, including practical ones.
All this talk, including the dreary premise—planting recession gardens instead of flowers—has nothing to do with why I garden or why I suspect most people garden. Those who really don’t want to do their own digging will find ways to get cheaper food without growing it—and those who enjoy gardening will grow what makes them the happiest.