Gardening’s Crystal Ball

Often I’m asked, “What’s the future of gardening?” Here is my short answer, so to speak.

First, the number of gardeners is growing, as baby boomers enter their 50s and 60s—the peak years of active home gardening. Gardeners inspire new gardeners, so children and even grandchildren are seeing—witnessing, you might say—more home gardens being grown each year.

Second, the garden seed, plant and tools industries have publicized many of the previously unknown or under-emphasized benefits of gardening to the general public. Mild stretching, bending, kneeling, and squatting are great workouts for middle-aged and elderly people who cannot endure long, hard exercise.

Dreaming about next year’s gardens and planning seed, plant and supply purchases involve mental routines similar to crossword puzzles and memorizing poetry. They keep the brain supple, even though gardeners regard the process as an exciting adventure.

Also, everyone knows that the fresh air of a garden is tonic. So many of us have acquired new, gadget-related indoor habits, even when the weather is pleasant and the birds are chirping.

Third, research from the renowned clinical psychologist Jeannette Haviland-Jones at Rutgers University on the effects of the “Duchenne smile”—the smile that reaches the eyes—is stimulated most often and deeply by the sight of fresh flowers. It’s as if happiness resulted from our co-evolution with flowering plants. Haviland-Jones has demonstrated that flowers not only make happy people happier, but also curb the effects of depression. In some cases freshly cut blooms work as well as prescribed medicines. (So, amidst the vegetable craze, don’t forget the flower beds.)

However, the largest and fastest growing area of home gardening today is vegetables, and the future of home garden vegetable, herb and fruit gardening is taking on new and innovative forms.

Specifically, everyone wants the full ripeness, succulence, taste and nutrient levels of home grown and freshly picked vegetables, not the bland and increasingly expensive store-boughts. People in a wide variety of habitats—downtown and uptown urban neighborhoods; the so-called “collar” communities bordering them; the rapidly expanding near and far suburbs; and even semi-rural and rural towns, villages and areas—are excitedly growing vegetable gardens.

What is the long term future of vegetable gardening? The answer is the same as it has always been, since plants were first domesticated over 12,000 years ago: innovation. Similar to the later inventions such as the telephone, automobile and light bulb, garden plants have always depended on continuous quantum leaps in improvement.

More nutrition? Traditional plant breeding has answered with the new broccolis, tomatoes, peppers and even cucumbers that possess up to 100% more antioxidants and vitamins when grown to full ripeness—and excellent levels of taste—in home gardens (Boost Collections, 2011 cover item). We plan to add new items to this category every year for the next decade.

Larger yields? In all of our vegetable breeding programs we select for both taste and yield. Gardeners want abundant harvests for the work they do. Furthermore, the recession of 2008 remains fresh in people’s memories, stock portfolios and home values. It spurred an enthusiasm for vegetable gardening that has not been seen since the enormous “back to the land” movement of the early 1970s. But now the savings produced by a large-sized patio container garden—and even much more in a proper ¼ acre vegetable patch—are astonishing. The future looks bright for “money gardens”.

Let’s do the math. Home-grown tomatoes? A patch of 25 plants will enable you not only to avoid the pale, tasteless, 1,000 mile shipped tomatoes at the supermarket, but to save you over $1,000, cash, and enjoy a quality of tomato no money can buy. In the future innovative varieties will be bred for small space-gardens and large patio tubs. Like ‘Bush Steak’ and ‘Big Daddy’ of today, they will yield even more luscious fruit in even less space. A vegetable patch including 25 tomato plants won’t be large, but small!

What applies to tomatoes applies to all vegetables. This quantum leap in plant yield will enable both city and country dwellers to share similar benefits. Gardens will grow not necessarily in overall size, but in output. Thus, the number of gardens and gardeners enjoying them will tremendously increase.

Next, motherhood has recently become a more health-conscious time in family life. Many mothers and fathers grow vegetables rather than use store-bought ones to amend their infant’s and toddler’s baby food. This trend will increase as breeders focus on relatively mild-tasting (yet still retaining all nutritious elements), and particularly soft-fruited vegetables at full ripeness stage. Specially selected and traditionally bred peas, melons, squash, and even the more challenging carrots, cauliflower and broccoli, are in test phases as we speak. Softer, juicier, milder—perfect both for the baby’s health and the parents’ satisfaction.

Future gardeners will want more excitement. If the public wants a giant sized paste tomato, it can order ‘SuperSauce’ from our catalogue in a couple of weeks. If the public wants a sweet corn to grow on decks and patios, they will have it in ‘On Deck’. A broccoli that thrives in high heat and full sun? The new ‘Sun King’. A naturally mutating chive growing in a test field that our breeder found one day? ‘Cha-Cha’ chive—exclusive from The Cook’s Garden—has two sources of herbs: the normal stems and a head that produces young shoots instead of flowers. The reddish-purple flower petals have been transformed into hundreds of tiny shoots that have an even spicier taste. Two chives in one! Cha-Cha innovates the entire world of chives. That is excitement.

Environmental awareness and responsibility? Again, The Cook’s Garden presents a bit of the future now. For 2013, The Cook’s Garden is the only company to sell certified organically grown heirloom plants raised from certified organically grown seed, of our top heirloom selections, carefully studied over a period of 17 years in comparative test gardens of thousands of old heirloom varieties.

Next, let’s consider a game-changing future innovation. The Cook’s Garden is developing brand new types of herbs. Herbs have become overexposed, even a bit clichéd in recent years. To reawaken gardeners’ and diners’ senses—as well as sensibilities—we need to revolutionize herbs.

Herbs respond to the same “terroir” as do wine grapes, but only generally at the present time. We discovered that the interaction of a herb’s root system with soil, water and air, is very much like “terroir”, only affecting oils, rather than fruit sugars.

The excitement is that, today, most people view herbs as one-dimensional flavors—a common view that will be hard to shake off. The challenge will be to prove, first, that our Pinnacle Herb plants taste better because they have more flavor. They are stronger, but not overbearingly so. So, people who buy these potted herb plants—ideal for patios—will be able to use fewer clippings if they want the “same” flavor. But we believe most will opt for the richer “terroir” flavor, because that’s the fulfillment of herbs, both naturally and in the kitchen. For example, oregano “blooms” into a new flavor when heated, and yet another, still newer variation of flavor when soaked in vinegar. Different flavors of oregano! Why not cultivate all herbs to possess such diversity?

In conclusion, whether for taste, yield, nutrition, getting out in the fresh air, smiling deeply when surrounded by fresh flowers in the yard or in the home, having a connected family activity—gardens will play an increasingly essential role in our nation’s long-term future.

Call it the slow reinvention of gardening. We depend on annual weather cycles. Yet, today, more of us wish to move at nature’s pace, whether our garden is in the “back 40” in rural America, or on a roof in urban America, or just a large patio garden in Pennsylvania that used to be in the yard until the deer destroyed it.

Gardening moves forward. And it is innovation in plant research—along with luck—that is the human engine of this positive movement.

Finally, in 1972 David Burpee was asked by the press about the future of gardening. He excitedly told the newspaper interviewer that he was thrilled that, soon, new planets would yield new botanical worlds, and—subject to scientific quarantines and other protocols—we here on Earth would be able to grow new crops. He regretted he probably would not be alive to see it. But he was, of course, quite serious as well as deeply passionate about this future development. “DB”, as he was known, was a very forward-thinking genius. It was under his leadership that ‘Big Boy’ was introduced. By being easy-to-grow, very tasty, high-yielding, and relatively compact for 1948, ‘Big Boy’ revolutionized home gardening from a chore to a pleasure. He could see the future. And, after all, it was only three years since the moon landing.

I cannot think that far ahead, but I present above a small glimpse into the foreseeable future.

This entry was posted on Friday, December 21st, 2012 at 5:32 pm and is filed under Original Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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4 Responses to “Gardening’s Crystal Ball”

  1. Elizabeth Pellett said:

    Your writings are always excellent. This look into the future has so many attributes, could you give the Salt Spring Garden Club permission to reproduce it in our newsletter “The Grapevine” that is a non-commercial monthly publication for our members? Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Elizabeth A. Pellett, 91 year old Life Member of the SSIGC.

  2. Geri said:

    Now, what was the question?

  3. Althea said:

    Thank you, thank you. I’m thrilled that this article was written. I love gardening and right now am living in an apartment and am so sad that I was’t able to be a part of the gardening world as I once was for years.I still read and looked at other gardeners in the new area that I am now living in.
    Thank you for article as I will always be a part of this gardening club and I look forward to trying new and innovative ways to increse my knowledge.

  4. George said:

    Here are some comments that we have recieved via email at custserv@burpee.com:
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    I prefer flowers to vegetables, actually.
    -Sue
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    The other night, my wife was complaining because I interspersed beds of snapdragons with strawberry plants, to add color and interest to the border bed along a glass fence. She said they wont feed us.I told her they would feed our Spirits. :)
    Thanks for the article,
    Rich
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    I wanted to tell you that I very much enjoyed this letter. I thought at first it was just another ad and almost deleted it without reading. I would have missed some truly special descriptions that is very exciting. This year, for the first time, I grew herbs in beautiful pots mostly for the scenery of it among my cherished flowers. But to my surprise, my husband (that does the cooking) used those herbs very often. We decided to bring the pots in and put under my plant lights for the winter and discovered the most wonderful thing! When you walk into the guest room, the fragrance of those herbs is lovely. I plan to get more pots of herbs to put in our kitchen/dining room. I also was very glad to see more and more introductions of organic seeds. The huge amount of chemicals used in growing plants/fruit is not responsible or healthy for people or our planet. I lived for several years beside a small apple orchard and was shocked at the amount of chemicals used on the trees. I have been eating organically for over 30 years. I will be buying the organic seeds of your heirloom tomatoes. Thank you for describing the new plant innovations like Cha Cha Chives. I will be trying that one in particular. I did not know that soil would make a difference with the herbs or that the herbs could be so different depending on how you use them. As always, my family has given me a Burpee gift certificate. I have bought flower seeds every year from your company. I learned in that bad drought this year that coleus stayed nice looking and very colorful in my flower beds with tiny amounts of water while other flowers wilted and died quickly. I would like to ask that you develop more coleus varieties and premier coleus in your ads as I think it is an under-appreciated flower. Now I need to get your catalog out and start my annual perusal of the flower seeds to order and start growing under the lights… Best wishes in the new year and thank you for the article!
    - Theresa
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    Wholeheartedly agree and personally appreciate the ability to grow a portion of ones food supply. The idea of vertical farming particularly in urban, naturally arid areas is an interesting idea too. I also like to buy "local". There are, however, always 2 sides to every coin. Were there incidents like – oh say – a major flood (e.g. Mississippi River – and think about the size of THAT watershed) where a decision is made to flood rural (where food is grown) rather than heavily populated areas; a major storm (Sandy); extensive drought in a particular region… We would probably be thankful to have an intact food supply chain that can bring things from way outside the area we live in…even if the food had lost its vim and vigor over the years because of varietal selections that tolerate long storage and transport, etc. Think our world is more global than wed like to admit. But, it is a reality and answers arent easy in this case either.
    -Cathy
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    I so agree, I have always loved gardening, now with the high cost of food, gardening has become so important for fresh food and canning.
    -Connie
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    To an extent you are absolutely correct regarding those that are becoming vegetable gardeners. However, the baby boomer group are largely still the working people and sometimes find it harder to find the time to do a great deal of gardening themselves. The above listed group are still somewhat novices to gardening knowledge. A weekly short symposiums of the how to’s of growing each vegetable would be of service to this group. They were not interested when their parents and grandparents toiled in the soil. Now they are in need of gardening education. I am 70 years old, did not help in my fathers garden but took the Master Gardeners classes. However, I still learn more from neighbors that have gardened all their lives. I receive daily and weekly emails regarding recipes. Why not gardening tips.
    -Alice
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    I would like to see more organic vegetables in your catalog. Since changing my eating style, I have to go to other catalogs and sites for what I want to grow organically, especially in tomatoes, greens and herbs. Thanks for listening.
    - Barbara
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    I just have a suggestion for these informative and interesting emails. Could you possibly break between paragraphs? It is difficult to read so much when the sentences and paragraphs are all run together. Thanks.
    -Deborah
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    You really think that anyone is going to read all of that 2 days before Christmas?????
    -Rhonda
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    You hit the nail on the head concerning baby boomers. Im living it.
    -Donna
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    Gardening has now spread to the indoors of the city homes and apartments. While small in size but yield the satisfaction of growing your own food and the yield of fresh vegetables any time of the year. The new concept is Aquaphonics.
    -Lonnie
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    I have loved gardening since I was old enough to go to the garden with my grandmother. I loved it then, and now its my first love and my hobby. I taught my daughter and she is hopefully teaching my grandchildren. Its not only the excitement of the first coming out of the heavy ground, but the pride of taking a beautiful tomato into your house and making the best or salad ever had!! Im not in the greatest of health now, but this spring I plan to have my garden in my front yard!! I planted a few plants of Red German tomatoes several years ago, in with my flowers. Well, they took over, and I shared with many people. So, this year Im going to have the flowers moved and someone to till the ground and plant vegetables in the middle and flowers around the perimeter. I planted mustard green seeds, turnip green seeds and swiss chard seeds a couple of years ago, and I still collected greens this past summer. I just put down good garden soil a little bucket at a time until I had about 10 long rows (2). Im going to do that again. I wish I could afford blueberry bushes, but I just dont have the money. Im supposed to eat blueberries as part of my eating program for my fibromyalsia. (Plus raspberries and blackberries-which I cant afford either). Thats neither here nor there, I just know what I need. I have almost looked the print off your catalog, plus I go on line to look too. I can hardly wait to get started. I know that onions, lettuce and greens are the first things I will plant. Im going to plant my Red Germans, okra, Shellie oct. beans, cucumbers, many, many green bell peppers. I have a huge yard with flowers and bushes and beautiful trees everywhere there is a place!!! I have tons of many varieties of Hostas, Daffodils, Iriss, Calla Lillies, Hybrid Day Lillies, Monkey Grass, Butterfly bushes, and so many more!! I tried to have everything in my yard, that my precious Grandmother had in her yard!! So thank you for this article, and I’m sorry I was so long, but I love it!!! I would love to see your garden!!! Send videos when possible I always watch them. God bless you and your green thumbs,
    Jan
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    Great article!
    -Henry
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    I absolutely loved your article on the future of gardening. Two years ago, my husband and I (ages 68 and 60 respectively) moved to a 10-acre farm in Delton, Michigan. We have (unbelievably) a 5,000 square foot garden that houses dwarf fruit trees, raspberries, strawberries, grapes (thats about ½ the garden) and the rest is all vegetables. Last year we gave away a lot of fresh veggies to a church and to our neighbors, family, and friends. The rest is in our freezer. It is a wonderful life. I was so glad to see the information about flowers. I have two or three flower gardens around the farm. They give me no end of pleasure. Tall hollyhocks by the barn, a large shade garden underneath a 300 year old maple, and a decent-sized sun garden that holds shrubs, roses, poppies, bulbs, iris, and just about everything else I can find to put in there. Our grandchildren delight in fresh, organic produce, and, though its sometimes more work, we are happy with the organic results. Thanks again for a super article. Were believers! (And at the moment we have two kinds of Burpee garlic growing under a long row covered with straw. It will be ready mid-summer.) Sincerely,
    Kelly
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    I hurried through your “letter” because I wanted to reply asap We’ve already ordered all the 2013 vegetables, and my husband had an organic “victory garden” since 1974, the year we moved into this house I understand totally, I think, what you are trying to do and have seen many younger people over the past few years really get into gardening and preserving. We are very old fashioned, I “can” – not as much as in the past like 50 jars of tomato juice and catsup from scratch (and that was before crock pots, and used a hand ricer for the tomatoes that squirted all over the place and me! And I can remember when you, Organic Gardening, actually did a “review” on the use of mayo jars, and okayed them – back a while ago, and the only jar I ever had break was a new Kerr – the bottom fell off as I took it out of the pot. Hot tomato juice all over, me and the kitchen. and over the years have gotten almost every time saving device could find like the Kitchen Aid Mixer with the roto blade that slices cucumbers for bread and butter pickles faster than the time we spent picking them; and the ricer attachment that does the softened tomatoes and apples into sauce and juice and the electric pressure canners I have (NOT COOKERS, CANNERS think got the last ones available, one from manufacturer in WI, and one from a dist in Forida – the factory in China went bankrupt, so they say, but bet the tooling still exists) and Mantis tiller and heavy duty tomato cages and crock pots for apple butter and catsup and tomato sauce and instant read thermometers and “clear jel” for canning pie fillings and two piece lids (still have zinc ones and lock type jars but won’t can in them anymore) – think still have packs of jar rubbers we had to use during energy crises of the 70’s and the Admiral Ultra Freeze freezer with “blast freeze” compartment and factory installed icemaker in some – and that never did well and Maytag axed, it was marketed to Gourmets not to food preservers and I think that was the problem. the only concern we have is that it has become “so easy” that people who don’t know may get careless, as the big companies have with processing meats and eggs, and kill someone. There’s a hog processing plant in a town nearby, and people who work there and describe the conditions would remind you of The Jungle – can’t remember if it was Upton Sinclair or Sinclair Lewis now, because I’m getting old Anyhow just want to say way to go gal (or guy)
    - Jackie
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    I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas! I enjoy your e-mails & have learned so much from your group. Thank you and be blessed!
    - Jan
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    I think as the world becomes more unstable and energy prices contiune to rise we don’t really know what we will have to pay for our food or if we will be able to get the fresh vegetables we are so use . So if even a small percentage of households can grow some of the vegetables they eat maybe we will on the track to self efficiency and not depend on others for our fresh vegetables.
    -comcast.net user
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    Many of us want to only grow non-genetically modified plants. If you want to increase your business, I would recommend you make a large point of marking your products that are NOT GM plants. Thank you,
    Deborah
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    Enjoyable to read and very informative.
    -Ann
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    If you are ever looking for a human interest story about gardening, check out the gardening program at the Salt Lake County Jail. The garden is worked by prisoner trustees. The produce is sold at the local Farmer’s market. The profit is used to finance programing for prisoners at the jail. The County Extension Office provides classes that the prisoners must pass to earn the priviledge of being on the garden crew. The return to the prisoners is incredible in terms of life skills, self-esteem, etc. Gardening has become a profitable side line to corrections. Sheriff Winder’s pholosphy is based on equipping prisoners to build successful lives outside of jail. Those who are sentenced to jail can avoid being charged a py for stay daily charge by enrolling classes and groups. Those who participate don’t pay. This garden is really impressive.
    - Kathleen
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    Enjoyed your thoughts on gardening, very upbeat and refreshingly positive. I am 76, the last few beastly summers caused me to close down my garden of 35 years, do not seem to tolerate the heat. Your essays make me want to see what I can perhaps sneak into my garden without overwhelming me, especially when it is beastly hot.Thanks for your encouraging positive essays!!
    -Barb
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    Very ironic. I was thinking about my next years harvest when I opened my lap top.
    -RoseAnn
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    Great email! Keep those great tasting veggies coming! The local grocery store is so full of bland boring vegetables and people are getting more interested in the old heirloom varieties that they had no idea could taste so good :) I think Americans are rediscovering real home cooking in the post micro-wave oven era! Love your company!
    - Scott
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    As a baby boomer now at age 70…. In 2012, I completed theTennessee Master Gardner Program Fully retired except for about 4 hours a day in the garden. They asked me on the application, “what is your future gardening goal:, the answer was easy…. GROW PIZZA! After growing tomatoes, basil, garlic, the only thing left was the crust. So, I got Russian Hard Red Winter Wheat seed, and grew whole wheat flour for he crust. I was a great gardening year, and will grow bigger and better this year. I still kill stuff, but now I know why it died, and do not repeat the error.
    - Bill
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    What a beautiful letter. Yes I called it a letter. I was introduced to Burpee in1979, My children, an infant and a toddler were both very allergic to preservatives, not much was know about allergies back then. Growing my own food would insure that they would not ingest any, for them, pathogens. 10 years and many successful gardens, many books and extremely healthy children later, life got in the way and I had to for go one of my passions. Now at 66 retired, though in good health My finances will not allow for variation or pesticide free consumption. What to do ? What to do. At 64 I bought a small house with a yard. I have painted and plastered, I have lain floor tiles, and cut trees that grew from great neglect. This house had been empty for two years and vandalized . Windows broken, plumbing missing , a leaking roof, but it had good bones, a low mortgage and a YARD. I prayed that I would stay healthy so that I would be able to give myself and perhaps others a means to thrive, to look forward to a long healthy life and not just survive to a short death. So now I can finally return to Burbee. I have bought seeds and shall buy gardening tool with my next check. I am in my dream stage my planning stage waiting for the frost to leave.
    - Theresa
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    Hello – Good article for thinking in January, movement in February and then the fun begins again! I am looking for a website, app, blog, whatever, that is geared to people with hobby greenhouses. I was gifted with one last year and really enjoy looking at it, doing a few ( very few) things in it and really want to grow veggies etc. does anyone know of a good site? I would like to be able to ask questions and answer questions from others but not in the scientific terminology that people who grow things for profit talk about. Hope this makes sense. I live in the PNW (Oregon).
    -Sharon
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    Thank you for the highly inspirational outlook for future home gardening. I have three 5 x 10 raised beds and a fenced 10 x 20 area to work with. I am starting to make plans for the 2013 growing season and I hope to create a more versatile and productive garden Tomatoes and peppers are primary. I want good onions, garlic and shallots and a variety of herbs.Then later cool weather plants. I am all pumped up to get started. Thank you
    Jerome
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    I was VERY pleased with”Gardening’s Crystal Ball” this was unexpected and very interesting to read, keep up the great work. Sorry about sending this way and hope it gets read, but when I clicked (several times) on “Give us your feedback click here” nothing happended at all. So since I really wanted to give you the positive feedback thought I would try this way. Thanks,
    Kate
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    For me gardening is a therapeutic endeavor. I was 21 in the early 70′s and subscribed to the Mother Earth News. I have gardened ever since and I have to say that, even thought I enjoy the savings of having fresh and nutritional produce each year, as I enjoy canning my produce, gardening provides me with both physical and mental exercise. For me the experience of working in my 1/4 acre garden puts me one with nature. I look forward to working in the soil and experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. It makes me feel one with my creator! I hope to garden for a long time!
    - Jim
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    For years I have wished SOMEBODY would look into a variety of lima beans that the back yard gardeners in Salem, NJ, grew when my step-father-in-law was still alive.The beans were absolutely the BEST I have ever eaten. JUICY NEVER MEAL-y. This was in the 50′s, 60′s, maybe even in the 70′s. Maybe still. They weren’t a brand you could go out and buy. The gardeners who saved seed each year kept them going. They were vines, and had a long growing season.I tried growing them in upstate NY, but at the time I was VERY inexperienced, and didn’t know how to get them started early so they would ripen before a frost. I am 87 now. I don’t have the funds or the strength to look into this myself. If I was researching these lima beans, I would start by going to the Methodist Church, I think it was, and contact gardeners who are members there.My stepfather’s name was Leslie Minch. No use going to the place he used to live……a tiny lot.The last time I saw the place, years after he had moved away, this little garden of Eden was a slum. Actually, after he moved to a nearby town whose name I have forgotten, but I could find it if I looked thru old letters…..I think it was Woodstown, NJ……….I think he grew the beans there too. Sincerely,
    Margaret
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    Thanks for the thoughtful and insightful email. I enjoyed reading it. I look forward to more intelligent words, without a sales pitch. Thanks again.
    -Alberta
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    “It’s as if happiness resulted from our co-evolution with flowering plants”consider: God is the one who created beauty and we’re made in his image – understanding beauty then is natural to us, and brings us joy THANX for your emails and informative website.
    -Greg
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    How do we get our potting soil and fish compost, fertilizer, etc. in your catalog?
    - Mary
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    I garden for all of the reasons that you have so eloquently stated…in fact it helps me with my sarcoidosis,high blood pressue,even with my kidney problems(we have stopped it going into the 4th stage of failure)..So to me this exercise of growing anything has been a tremendous help in keeping me in better heath…not to mention with wonderful vegetables,and flowers …and I have Burpee to personally thank for that…MERRY CHRISTMAS…TO ALL THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE ASSOCIATED WITH BURPEE..LOOKING FORWARD TO A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR…THANKS once again…
    Mike
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    Awesome and inspiring – with much enthusiasm looking toward the future in our home gardens…
    - aol.com user
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    Thank you for the words on the future of gardening. Every word is true.75 years young and have a 50 by 65-foot garden space that provides lots of exercise for me. I have a garden tiller, but the rest is done the old fashioned way–by hoe and hand-pulling weeds. Thank you for the fine dissertation. En joy seeing articles like this.Sincerely,
    Harold
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    Hi,My husband and I just became Master Gardeners or maybe I should say entered the program, My Mother always got a burpees catalog and tried hard to have the first white marigold. I order from one of your catalogs often. Do you have any advice about starting a community garden? We live in Heber Springs, Ar. and their is some interest, I am just not sure how to get started. Land is available, What is the best way to get people interested? I have a backyard veg. garden and I have gardened since I was about 8. My daughter and 2yr. old Granddaughter like to go out and grab a bite of kale and eat it right there with no pesticides. Any advice may be helpful. I enjoyed reading the crystal ball gardening essay. My daughter’s name is Crystal. Thanks.
    -Rebecca
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    Dear Burpee staff,Thank you for sending essays on various topics of gardening from time to time.especially enjoyed the one sent at Easter.I do believe the interest in having a garden and producing vegetables& has grown in popularity thepast few years. Local farmers markets have also increased interest in my opinion. The Iowa state fair also had ample vatieties of vegetables forjudging and show this past Augustdespite the severe drought in the Midwest. I am already looking forward to another growing season.Merry Christmas,
    Russ
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    Keep up the great work. I’ve been actively promoting square foot and raised bed gardening for over a year now. I appreciate the how to videos you offer and the constant new varieties of plants. I’ve been successful in getting a number of people interested in growing their own fruits and vegetables. I have even been asked to teach a gardening class atmy church the third Saturday in Jan. 2013. I plan to have the Burpee Catalog as one of my visual aids and let them know about your web site and videos. Thanks and keep up the good work.
    - Mark
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    Have been enjoying your articles this years. Hope to see more of them.
    - Freda
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    Wonderful article, makes me want to go out in the snow and dig down and into the dirt!!
    - Sue
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    I love Burpee products. Your Breeder’s Choice corn is the best I have ever tasted. Unfortunately, it is very sensitive to soil temperature. Please give your devoted followers that information. Give them a temperature (air) to plant. That said, I have used and trusted your products for over 30 years. Sometimes they grow fantastic, sometimes I am disappointed. I am usual willing to pay the extra price for Burpee products, but I must confess, they are becoming too expensive for my budget. Best,
    Lorraine
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    A very good article about the new studys.
    - aol.com user
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    What a wonderful newsletter. I have 7000 square feet of garden. I can 300-500 jars of various things per year along with preparing and freezing scores of chafing trays of cooked meals. Many of the thoughts mentioned in the discourse are what I feel and look forward to every year. In addition to my household food needs I am able to take care of four other families. This is in part due to the advances in the hardiness and productivity of the new varieties that have been developed. This time of year is that of looking forward to the next planting season. Your letter only intensified that longing.
    - Steve
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    Thank you for the “editorial”. I found it interesting. I have a wish–that Burpee would have packets of seeds in smaller quantities for the home gardener. I have often wanted to order a certain variety but the quantity is too large. Although, I can sometimes locate pkgs. that have a smaller number of seeds in a local store, I prefer to order on-line for the convenience and the variety. Thanks you,
    Christine
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    I enjoyed reading your email Gardenings’s Crystal Ball. I am disabled and last year was my first time I ordered from your company. Not all tomatoes produced and died but others did not and they were great.
    - Kim
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    This article was a joy to read! It does get me excited about beginning a new season of veggies, herbs and fruits. Especially since I am among the younger group who love to garden.
    - Aileen
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    Good Morning,In the Spring of 1942 my Father took me to Marshall`s Hardware store in Drexel Hill,Pa.He told me that due to the War we were going to have a Victory Garden to help support the War effort here at home.He bought some Burpee Tomatos and some Beans.I was 9 years old and have been using Burpee products ever since.In 1945 we moved to Narberth,Pa and bought our Burpee seeds from Ricklin`s Hardware.In 1960 I was married and my wife was anxious to see your operation.We drove to your farm and were given the Cook`s tour.We were shown how you germinated and developed different varities.You had Plastic bags covering plants with bugs inside.Both a Lady and Gentleman guided us during our visit.I now live in Florida and generally order from you directly.However now at 80 years of age,and failing health,my garden activities have slowed down in the last several years.I am very thank full that you still send me your Catalog.When I read it I am able to relive many of the wonderfull years of Burpee Vegatables.After being a Burpee Customer for 71 years,I consider myself very fortunate that my Father introduced my to Burpee Products.I want to thank the entire Burpee Staff for helping me in so many ways over the years.Merry Christmas and God Bless you ALL.
    - Henry
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    Well said. It shows that you are a company that believes in more than just the bottom line.
    - Ron
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    Dear Customer Service,I loved your essay on the virtues and future of gardening! I am one of the Boomers that you mentioned and I agree wholeheartedly with your assessments. Gardening is my favorite activity and since moving from rural Ohio to the Chicago Suburbs, I continue to convert my back yard from the typical suburban landscape to one that includes raised beds (to avoid digging into the buried cables) and trellises to get more out of the available real estate. My neighbors and my inner city coworkers really enjoy my excess produce (after we get our fill) and marvel at the difference from that they get at the supermarket.I doubled my raised bed areas this past fall and I’m in the planning stages of how to best make use of them this coming spring. Burpee has always been my source of choice for seeds and plants and this year will be no different. I’m never disappointed.Thank you for the encouragement and information provided and keep up the good work.A loyal fan and customer.
    - Tom
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    For last seven years have enjoyed my stay in retirement home apartment . Also enjoyed very much having a variety of plants in raised garden bed outside location and also few box beds on my balcony . Now have new planter for tomatoes that water is fed to plants from bottom . Size takes care of four tomato plants . Just read your information in-re “Big Boy” and would like to have information on plants and/or seeds . If you would like be glad to send picture of container . Thank you for your catalog or computer plant information. Regards,
    Louis
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    Here Here!!! Happy New Year!
    - Debby
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    I live in Seattle and our weather is wonderful except if you are growing tomatoes. Even the short cycle plants barely get ripe. Are you researching more plants in the future for our climate?
    - Lin
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    Wonderful letter about gardenings future. I just started above ground veg. plots. Ive got lettuce,garlic,kale,spinich,and strawberries growing now. Started late to plant but theyre still growing. Will order from you when its time to plant more.
    - Joan
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    No mention of Aquaponics?????….Your catalogues do not include recommendations for aquaponic application. Im new to this and would find this useful in selecting seeds.
    - Norm
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    Loved it I love gardening it is a stress reliever for me.
    - margmac2
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    Our co-evolution with flowers? really?
    - Tim
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    Thank you for such an informative garden letter. Ill be looking for some of these mentioned items in your catalog.
    - Steve and JoAnn
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    If every suburbanite in america would take the time,make the effort to transform a small square footage of his boring lawn to flowers and vegetables,our eco system would be healthier and so would our children.
    - Jimmie
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    Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with success,happiness,and peace.I thought your email fit me to a tee,I’m in my mid 50′s and have been gardening for the past 10 years.I find working in my garden peaceful,therapeutic,and good for my marriage(recruited my husband and yes, no matter what he says,he enjoy’s as much as I do).I have just recently started ordering my plants from your company and will go know where else.The variety you offer in phenomenal and your guarantee is appealing to me.My husband is a pepper guy,usually plants six different varieties,says you have the best selection and guarantee as well,we had a problem with two plants,you didnt have the plants to replace,so you refunded us,terrific.You have established us as life long customer’s.Happy 2013.
    - Jani
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    Thank you for the article. There just isn’t any place better in the whole world than a garden of any kind. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
    -Millie
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    Great information
    -yahoo.com user
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    Wonderfully said. Those word are very inspiring for any size gardner. Can’t wait for spring to start so we can again plant this year. Thanks you for all your great products, you make gardening much easier. Best regards,
    Chuck
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    Hi:
    We grow in North Dakota, and our crystal ball says: The foreseeable future of growing will be local clustered survival production. NASA is about to make an announcement that will discuss a planetary change that will re-write the growing zone maps. We will enter a period that will last for many years where no fuel or infrastructure will be available. The plants in most every area will be abruptly out of their place. The species will be recollected again as they were in the past but the conditions will be like they were in maybe circa 1850 AD. When this announcement is made the effects, of the changes, will be played down for political reasons. Our family has a science back ground and we sold our other land and moved here as shortly a tropical climate will be the norm. A discussion site which has the most correct projection and safe locations is http://www.poleshift.ning.com I am available to discuss this matter as it develops, If you want to exchange opinions, on this swift coming climate change.
    - Conrad
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    Hope should not be put aside, as eventually, a return to normalcy occurs. Survivors adjust to their new conditions, sunlight returns, crops and gardens begin to produce abundantly. But this may take some time. Return to Normalcy, written Sep 15, 1996. A gloomy atmosphere, with the cloud cover seemingly on the ground, will last for at least two decades and then dissipate over the next several years. As the atmosphere is thin, having been ripped away, it tends to drop any water it picks up rather readily. Clouds, after all, are water vapor, but when clouds cannot waft high they are subject to slow motion and bumping into things that cause condensation. Thus, it seems to be raining continuously, at least in a drizzle. Vegetation regrows in proportion to the sunlight that manages to work its way though the dense cloud cover. At first, there is only a brave sprout of two, which quickly gets eaten by anything hungry in the vicinity. Due to the damp and cloudy environment, many plant species simply do not appear until the climate changes, and then, activated by the climatic conditions that their DNA has become programmed to react to, the seeds magically sprout. Forests that had been leveled by hurricane winds or burned to the ground during firestorms regrow from seedlings. Within a few decades, young forests have reappeared, as have lush meadows and marshlands. Opportunistic vegetation eventually gets pushed aside as the climate worldwide returns to normal. For hundreds of years, however, the vegetation in any given region may have a different appearance that it will ultimately, due to this type of adjustment. Wildlife, being mobile, rebounds more readily than the vegetation. Wildlife tends to wander until it finds a hospitable home, and there park until matters improve. Many species will seem extinct, where they are merely decimated in number and staying close to where conditions are optimal. As they regrow in numbers and the habitat improves, they return to their venturesome ways, and thus, to mankind, seem to suddenly reappear. Fish fare better, particularly if ocean going, as the oceans are not traumatized in the same manner that land life is. In fact, due to the increased carbon dioxide in the air after a pole shift, the kelp and other plant life in the ocean thrives, creating a life cycle reaction that benefits ocean life. As man, the great plunderer, has essentially disappeared, species that had almost gone extinct will be on the rebound.
    - Conrad
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    If there is anything better than garden fresh vegtables on the table at dinnertime, I don’t know what it is. I’m excited to start gardening every year at this time. Waiting for the season to put the seed in the ground is a great time to prepare the ground in Tennessee and that is just what I’m doing. Happy Gardening to All.
    - Edward
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    My husband and I live in a retirement community in Oak Park Heights, MN, near Stillwater, a part of the outer suburbs of the Twin Cities, MN. Many elderly people here garden. For those who find kneeing down on the ground difficult, garden boxes, 3 X 12, filled with excellent soil have been made by residents who enjoy wood working of various kinds. The raised garden boxes are rented to residents for $25/gardening season. I think there are approximately 25. We live in a townhouse so we have the area around the house to garden as long as we follow certain rules. Weve also rented a raised garden box the past three summers. All three of our children, their spouses and children who live in MN are garden enthusiasts also. Gardening will continue to be a popular hobby, and for some, a vocation for years(centuries?) to come.
    - Ruth
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    Very nice article and thanks. I am part of a community garden (board member) in Chatham MA. We are new and this will be our third year with 28 plots. A big part of our garden goal is to give back to the community fresh veggies. Do you have a special program for community gardens?? Does Burpee have a sales rep in New England??? Any marketing folks or news letters????? Best to you in 2013.
    - Bob
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    Feedback? I am a volunteer tutor for Washtenaw Literacy. Our learners fall into two categories: Basic Literacy or English as a Second Language. I’m going to use this article in my class. It has everything! Optimism (that’s what gardening is, isn’t it?), great vocabulary words, ‘American’ innovation and an opportunity for me to preach about healthy water systems. Thank you for the beautiful words, Cheers,
    - Deborah
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    Nice message – I’m 27 and can’t get enough of my plants….garden, indoor plants, etc. But this article is so poorly written. It’s like a six year old wrote it. That to me is a wasted opportunity. Read this one again editors…the thoughts are very poorly tied together. It’s like 1 plus 2 equals 8.
    - Ogle
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    Thank you for the great article. I’d like to add that gardening also eliminates (by choice) any GMO seeds and/or products used. I understand that large companies are producing GMO seeds/plants in order to provide more and varied foods to the growing population. But if more people would grow their own gardens, the food would be more nutritious, less (if any) chemicals, more healthy in all ways (like your article says) and we would be less dependent on buying our food supply in the stores. Simply put… people need to get their heads out of all the ‘technical gadgets’ and get back to the basics of life. Get outside and grow something! Absorb some Vit D while they’re doing it. Get healthy from God’s own creations.
    - Peg

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