Are there any young people that garden?

pistol(z6okla)March 2, 2014

I'm 63 and just wondered if there were any young people interested in gardening anymore. I live in Enid and I never see any at the stores that sell seeds, etc. I admit I am not in any garden clubs as I am too busy but I know that now we only have one store that sells bulk seeds and it has a very poor selection. It seems like it is a dying art. There used to be four garden stores here in Enid but they have gradually gone out of business. I remember when I was about six years old my Dad gave me a pack of red zinnia seeds and a few pop corn seeds out of the pantry and told me how to plant them. I was hooked for life. I hope I am wrong about this. I have no children but if I had I would certainly encourage them to be gardeners. Any thoughts?

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Hey pistol, great topic!
I think that a lot of our society has fallen away from anything that smacks of work. There are large segments which are clueless about gardening, even about cooking. Yet I do see young people who want to learn or are already gardening.

I work in the Northeastern State University and have observed a good many young people who are VERY interested in gardening. In fact we have had a student garden and a community garden spring up, both populated by young people (college age). We have a number of neighbors with smaller children who seem interested in gardening. I suspect that interest is higher in those who are more educated. My neighbors, with gardening kids, are home school families. Home schooling isn't necessarily the only way to go. But "home schoolers" as a rule are very involved in the lives of their children, and get them out there to do things.

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 7:56AM
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I see a few young people are trying to learn. But I also see some older people that are clueless also. It sort of catches me by surprise when someone older then me (50) don't know how or where vegetables are grown.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 9:22AM
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I don't think most kids (under 21) don't want to fool with it. I attended a meeting last Sat night, one of the goals was to get young people interested in raising food. There were only five people that showed up, the youngest one was above 30, the oldest was 82. I think that if times really got hard we would see two groups of people that would really grow fast, those that would grow food and those that would steal.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 9:32AM
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I'm 33 as of last week so I probably don't qualify as young, but I guess it depends on the comparative ages!

No one in my family was into gardening when I was a kid - we were Army and moved so frequently we didn't have time to put down roots. When I got my first apartment at age 18, I got the bug from a co-worker and filled my balcony with pots and flowers divided from her yard. At age 20, my first house got my first in-ground gardening attempts. It's funny, my mother finally purchased a house around the same time, and at age 41 she got the bug, too. She prefers growing fruit trees and ornamental plants to vegetables on her shady lot, but she loves to garden now. Better late than never! If I have any children, they will grow up around the garden because they won't be able to avoid it if they want to see me!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 9:34AM
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I'll be 30 in a few weeks, so I don't know if I count as young anymore. :p

I was raised in a family that always had a family garden (when we were allowed...we lived in the country but in rentals). I didn't have too much interest in it, mostly because I hate weeding with a passion and as a teenager that always became my job. When I was in college gardening wasn't on my radar at all. I lived in the dorms and in small apartments, and I had no idea community gardens were a thing. I'm not sure I would have kept up with it even if I had one, though. That's not where my priorities were at the time.

Now that we own a home and have a decent amount of land I feel like there's no reason not to have a garden. I suspect my story isn't all that uncommon.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 9:49AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I know quite a few young folks who garden and who are very interested not only in growing their own food, but also in preparing it for meals and in preserving it. However, many of them have parents, grandparents or other relatives who garden so they were exposed to gardening by someone they were close to. I think kids who don't know any gardeners personally as they grow up might not become interested in gardening at a young age.

Here in Love County, at least one school has a school/community garden and it looks to me like the kids do a great job with it every year. When the school year ends, they always issue a reminder to the community that the school garden is their garden too and that community members are free to come harvest from their garden. Presumably, community members who do that would help the kids maintain the garden in summer.

I see lots of young folks purchasing seeds and plants and am happy to report that. There was a period in the 1980s-early 2000s when I felt like vegetable gardening had faded in popularity but have noticed since about 2007 or 2008 that it seems to have made a strong resurgence. Seed racks here empty out remarkably quickly in spring time.

Tim and I have gotten several people hooked on gardening just by sharing produce and canned produce with them. Once they taste fresh home-grown tomatoes, peppers and melons, they want to grow their own. It is the same thing with canned salsa, jellies, jam, pickles, etc. Once they discover how much they like them, they want to raise food and can it themselves. I think that is so cool. We also give away a lot of home-grown seedlings, and have gotten several friends hooked on growing heirloom tomatoes that way. I think one way to get people interested in gardening is to share the joys of gardening with them.

If y'all remember the big increase in veggie gardening between 2008-2009 (the seed companies ran out of seeds of many items), the number of households in the USA with veggie gardens jumped from 37 million to 43 million just in that year. I've always wondered how many of those new gardeners continue to garden.

Like Busy1, I see people in our age group who are clueless, but I also see some of them trying to learn and trying to grow stuff now. Many of those folks are not from gardening families so they didn't benefit from having experienced relatives showing them how and why growing your own food is so rewarding. Better late than never. I think I see more young folks in their 20s and 30s taking up gardening, though, then people in their 40s or 50s or older. They blog about it, talk about it on facebook, post photos and project descriptions on Pinterest, etc. It gives me hope that a new generation of gardeners will inspire one another and spread the joy of gardening to even more people.

It is unfortunate that consolidation in the seed industry has made some seed varieties obsolete, and I agree that it is hard to find good bulk seed. Nowadays all the big box stores carry the same 2 to 4 lines of seeds from the "same old same old" seed companies for the most part, and they focus a lot more on varieties that anyone can grow anyone in the nation, which leaves me searching harder for varieties that are well-adapted to the hot, dry Great Plains states. Some nurseries carry a larger variety of seed lines, but even they don't have as many as they once did. I have to drive to the D-FW metro area (it is closer to me than OKC is) to visit the two nurseries I know of there that still carry bulk seed. I order seed online a lot more than I used to because that is where I can find the varieties I want since a lot of them no longer appear in stores.

I don't think gardening is dying out at all, and I don't think it is the sole domain of the 40s and over crowd. Or, at least is isn't as much as it used to be. I have noticed that a lot of our friends who have recently taken up gardening did not start gardening until their kids went off to college, so I think that maybe they were so busy with their kids' various activities that they didn't have time to garden before. We also know a lot of single moms who didn't have time to garden until the kids grew up because they already were burning the candle at both ends working full time and raising their children. There's only so many hours in a day, after all.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 9:51AM
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Happy belated B-day Mia! You're a year younger than my oldest child so yes, you are STILL "young people"!

I've gardened since the first year of motherhood. My grandfather gardened. I caught the garden-bug when I first tasted the difference between home grown tomatoes & store-bought. Had to grow my own and share with him when he got to frail to grow his own. I had many years of coaching from my grandfather.

My daughters have always helped but I've noticed a renewal in interest from young people in the last 3 or 4 years. Young people I work with are starting back-yard gardens. They ask me questions often. One of my kids' BFF's learned the definition of "GMO" 2 summer's ago so I picked up another "helper". My grandkids help quite a bit with the gardening so I'm hoping they carry it with them into adult life. I think they will.

I agree that it almost seemed to be a dying practice but I think I see signs of renewal. I know we've had quite a few young people attend our Spring Flings in the last several years. I see more young people in the garden centers and local seed store, K&K. And then again, it might just be that I'm getting older so it seems that more young people are there! ha!


    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 10:03AM
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Don't live in Oklahoma but...I started gardening at the age of 11. By the time I turned 15, it was my all-consuming hobby (to the point my dad once sat me down and gave me a lecture about the importance of keeping my grades up as opposed to "growing plants all the time") ha ha ha! In response, I spent even more time with gardening. Now I'm 29 and just started my own farming business because I realized there is nothing else that truly interests me.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 10:09AM
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We always had a veggie garden when I grew up. Once in my own house, I learned how tough it was to get rid of bermuda grass. Hateful hateful weed! But I kept a garden none the less. In fact, I hauled canned tomato sauce to Corpus Christi and later to Albuquerque, before moving again and not having a veggie garden.

I started planting veggies here and there throughout my flower garden areas. This worked very well the last decade. I am still a flower garden person, with veggies and berries mixed throughout.

Now, my older daughter (who is okievegan on this forum) grows flowers and veggies, and my younger daughter grows veggies. I am very proud of both my gardeners. :)


    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 10:32AM
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Thanks, Paula!

I wonder if the demise of bulk seeds has more to do with people's small lots/urbanization/suburbanization as opposed to having large spreads of lands to work on? It can take me years to use up a single packet of seeds in my small garden - bulk seeds would truly be wasted on me.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 10:43AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Well Im going to be 35 in april. When i was a child i spent a lot of time at my grandparents who had a large garden. I only have small memories of going out and helping. It wasnt until I was about 24 that I really started being interested in gardening and then it was more landscape plants and not veggies. It wasnt until about 5 years ago that I started my first real vegetable garden. Now I cant get enough of it. All of it. Veggies, landscape plants, trees, fruits I guess im consumed with it.
My daughter is 9. she is a little bit interested and helps me out sometimes which is pretty fun. My son is 15 and really doesnt care.
The other day after church my family always goes to dinner and us guys were talking about going skeet shooting the next weekend. It was supposed to be a wonderful day when they wanted to go and I was excited to get somethings done in the yard. My son leans over to my brother and says "All dad wants to do is garden" I kind of laughed but it made me think how many people think that what we do is crazy or dumb. With all the issues of this world and the cost of farming and food going up and up I think being able to grow food and save seeds is going to be a must in the future. My garden now is about 1200 sqft with half dedicated to fruit trees. I would like to double it in the next year or 2.
I still have a ton to learn and glad you all are kind enough to share your knowledge and experiences.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 11:05AM
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I'm 30. And I always was interested in gardening with my parents growing up. I also have a few friends my age that garden as well.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 11:40AM
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I didn't even like to go into the garden when I was a child, and now I don't want to come out of it, and I'm older than dirt.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 12:23PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

To grow ornamentals you have to have the money for it, many Americans do not have good jobs anymore. Prices of produce are prompting some to start vegetable patches, however the products of small home plots being cheaper than those coming from streamlined factory farms when all costs are considered is questionable. By growing your own you can control pesticide usage and variety selection - supermarket produce does tend to be kinds known to endure long distance transport without being damaged.

Since the vegetable seed supply, like so many other product areas is being consolidated and monopolized it may often be necessary to hunt for any out of state suppliers of alternative varieties that may still be left, order these through the mail or off of the internet.

Independent garden centers are being killed off by Home Depot etc. and the fact that too many consumers apparently think their often miserable little plant departments have everything they need. When so many are choosing retail merchandise based on low prices (or an assumption of low prices) then this is what you get.

Of course, this takes us back to the beginning of my comments and the fact that the middle class is being hammered, is not spending like it used to.

The best manure is money.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 12:42PM
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Hey pistol I grew up in northeast Garfield County, a little town called Hunter. My Dad and grandpa were farmers and always had gardens. Growing up my dad always had a large garden and he built a 20'x40' greenhouse. For several years in the 90s we had a large 1/2 acre to acre tomato patch, and I have many memories of filling up 5 gallon bucket after bucket of tomatoes and dumping them in the back of the pickup. It was always humid and miserable. Did you ever go to the farmers market at the fairgrounds?

Needless to say I wanted nothing to do with gardening by the time I was in college. However when I bought my own house at 28, I picked out a spot for a garden and started it the next spring. I'm now 33 and my mom is genuinely surprised that I plant a fairly large garden every year.

I think if you were involved with gardening at a young age, your interest might wane in your teens and early 20's, but as you get more mature you'll come back around.

Based on my wife's Facebook page (I don't care for Facebook) there seems to be an interest in gardening from younger, high income suburban families who are convinced that cows are raised in industrial factories and are very ignorant about farming in general. They have a desire to raise their own produce themselves so they know where it's coming from. They are interested in gardening even if they have some funny (and false) ideas about gardening.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 12:43PM
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Just like the others in there 30's, I'm not sure if I'm counted as young... tomorrow I turn 34.

My mom gardened for a period when I was young so I have memories of fresh, tasty produce. I think that helped motivate me to start gardening initially. So I think someone who didn't grow up knowing how much better homegrown is will not think it's worth gardening when grocery store produce is relatively cheap. Most people I know want convenience and don't know how or want to cook, so I know they would not want to garden.

OTOH, there's a real food movement going on now that is growing. More and more people want fresh, nutritious food. I think this will lead more people to gardening and/or buying from local farmers. This is actually my motivation to keep gardening and grow as much as possible - to have high quality, nutrient dense food.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 12:44PM
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I am here to restore your faith in young people gardening! I am 27 and my boyfriend is 26 and we love to garden! We were both growing container gardens separately in our rented accommodation before we met, and now we live together in our own home we have a nice big (well, big for a suburban house) garden. A big garden was actually our top priority when we were looking for a house!

When I was young my parents grew a little food in our tiny garden, and my Dad worked for a seed company. My grandparents were farmers in their youth, and my Grandma loved to make jam and preserves. So maybe it is in my genes :-) Although my boyfriend is not from a gardening family and he is really into it now. We get such joy from growing and eating our own food. I am very interested in food preservation, canning and freezing. It is a nice way to save the tastes of summer for a grey winter day, and also feel connected to my Grandma.

I am in grad school, and there are a group of 10 or so students in our department who all grow vegetables and herbs, we share seeds and tips (and complaints about the weather!). And all of us are in the 20-30 age range. So I think there may be a lot more people into gardening than you see at the store, which is great! Some of them have young children who like to help out in the garden too. Our group mostly orders their seeds online or gets them from big box stores though. I rarely see other folks my age at the seed and feed store when I go.

I will also say that I am from England, where gardening is the #1 national pastime! A lot of my age group in the UK have vegetable gardens in their tiny suburban lots. Gardening in Oklahoma has given me a new appreciation for how easy gardening in the UK was.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 12:46PM
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Mwaahaaha, I think shallot and I know each other. I wondered if you were here! (this is Heather G.)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 2:03PM
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I've been gardening forever, and my 3 sisters ages 8-12 are still interested in it. As are my high school buddies and some of their siblings. Although gardening isnt as popular as it used to be - probably because of technology taking up most young people's time - there's still plenty people that do it.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 2:08PM
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I am happy to see so many young gardeners. I only did as a child because I had to. I later started small beds with my first home at age 27. As I got older I worked my way up to about 4000 sq, ft of garden. As a single man that was to much, I have down sized to about 2500 ft now, which is more than I need.

I have 4 children, 2 of which garden some, but they are past 50 years old. Two of my six granddaughters show an interest in gardening. At this time the granddaughters show a stronger interest in boys, music, trucks, guns and 4 wheel drives than they do gardening. I expect that trend wont change any time soon.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 3:09PM
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LOL, Heather, I had no idea that was you!
My onions are toast too :-(

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 3:17PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

All you youngsters who are in your 30s and think that maybe you don't qualify as "young" any me, y'all are still young. I turn 55 this year and wish I had the higher energy level now that I had at 35...or even at 45.

I have to add that my local best friend gardener, Fred, is in his 90s and he is younger than most people who are one-third his age. I believe his gardening and ranching keeps him young. He inspires me and, if I am so lucky that I live into my 90s, I hope I'll still be gardening as actively then as he does now.

Age is just a number, and to me at this point in my life, you 30-somethings are just kids. ENJOY it while it lasts!

In terms of kids gardening, I've been impressed with how many local kids participate in 4-H and FFA and not only raise and show animals, but do lots of projects with various types of agriculture, including gardening and canning. They enter lots of neat stuff in the county fairs too. We know some families here that have 3 or 4 generations who all live close to one another and who either share one huge garden or have smaller gardens near one another. Clearly, in them, you see the gardening gene being passed down from one generation to another.

On the other hand, I have local friends who had to help their family raise their food as a matter of survival in past decades when they were young kids and times were hard, and some of them have no good memories from that at all (except, obviously, they had food to eat). All some of them remember is the drudgery of endless weeding and hauling buckets of water to water the garden. They want nothing at all to do with growing edible crops nowadays. I kinda understand why.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 3:18PM
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Brody36(8a PNW)

I am 23 and started to get big into gardening the last few years before that I would plant some annuals but thats about it. I did try growing plants from seeds one year and that was a disaster.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 3:23PM
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" My son leans over to my brother and says "All dad wants to do is garden"

Mike (MKSmth) That made me chuckle! Stick with it, be who you are, even when others think you're strange. Eventually, you'll come out the other end and they'll probably think you're a genius or something along that order. I've concluded that one secret to happiness is to stop following the crowd and do, eat, or grow what you like.

Interestingly, our kids, though they had no real objection to gardening, when small, didn't really come "into gardening" until they reached their mid twenties. Our oldest, now 29, is getting more revved up on gardening each year.

I have contact with many new gardeners. They almost always want to start out tiny. I hardly relate to "tiny." Their entire garden generally has room for about four or five of my tomato plants. Yet, if they enjoy it, and it gives them a good introduction into gardening, then more power to them!

People who are just learning about such things need to learn in small incremental steps. Eventually they reach a "critical mass" and can advance more rapidly. Those of us who garden should simply encourage those new folk who want to start.

George (who is very much enjoying this thread)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 4:49PM
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I grew up in a gardening family and always loved it. Unfortunately none of my kids got the "bug." Daughter thought they would have a garden in their new home in Tulsa but didn't count on that evil bermuda. (And her husband actually said, "What is there to gardening? You just plant and leave it alone until it's time to harvest." She knew better, but just didn't have the time to battle it.) This year she will still have a garden but much smaller now that she has convinced her husband to mow most of it. They have one section that has had a black tarp since midsummer last year. She wants a few kid-enticing things like Sungold and Black Cherry tomatoes, Sugar Snap peas and some broccoli--which her kids all love. And we will continue growing for them as we have for 15 years--but not putting it up.

I do know a family of five chidlren, all homeschooled, who seem to have an interest in gardening. I shared Black Cherry tomatoes with them and they really liked them.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 5:09PM
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this turned out to be kind of a cool thread. I'm glad I started it. A few more thoughts: I never met a person that gardened that I didn't like and think was nice. Most gardeners are good cooks. Hey, let's teach the kids to cook what they grow! I joined this forum in 2001 I think and can count my posts on one (or two) hands. But I enjoy hearing what others think. The other day I ran into a long time friend and we talked about gardening and he said he started his own plants such and such a way. And then he said "just like you taught me". What a warm feeling that gave me. All gardeners are kindred spirits.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 7:20PM
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prachi(6b (NJ))

Just one more to the mix.. I am 37 so not really that young. I think there are going to be more people getting into gardening as people in this country start to learn more about where their food comes from and the problems with food production.

I see it as a trend. Not a dieing art.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:41PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Did y'all see Rodd Moesel's article on planting and what we need to be doing in March? He made a comment that makes sense, but I really hadn't given it much thought since we grow most of the veggies we eat anyway.

With the continuing drought in California, and with some irrigation districts already having told farmers they will get no irrigation water this year, veggies, fruit, herbs and some nuts are likely to have lower than average supplies this year, which will drive the prices up. He mentions a figure that shocked me---more than a half million acres less veggies will be planted. So, even more than usual, and for many reasons, it makes sense to grow as much of your own food this year as you can.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rodd Moesel: Prime Time for Vegetable Planting

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:51PM
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So a bunch of tree huggers in California saved a stupid fish, by convincing a judge to dump all the water used to irrigate vegtables and fruit into the Pacific Ocean?

Wow that makes a lot of sense. Besides the climate in some areas, what does California have going for it?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 9:51PM
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I hadn't seen that article, but Al and I had already discussed that situation and what it would do to prices. I was in WM last week and saw apples for $3.79 a pound. I looked for gold plating, but didn't see any. They looked like plain old apples except for the price.

I am glad that all of my planting has been inside so far because our current temp is 4 degrees with a wind child of minus 11. We had a little hard winter mix last night that made the roads slick and tonight we have added a couple of inches of snow to that.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 3:03AM
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I think gardening is something that some people get interested in when they purchase their own homes. Then, a yard must be taken care of and the opportunity for gardening becomes more clear.
Then there are those of us who were born with the itch...


    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 3:09AM
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MarsMars(7a Tulsa)

It was very interesting to read the posts and how many followed a similar pattern to my own gardening experience. I grew up helping my grandmother garden but did not start gardening myself until my late 20s. My most vivid gardening memories was walking around my grandmother's yard and finding whatever was ripe and eating it straight off the plant, whether it be tomatoes, husk tomatoes, berries, etc... I believe much of my gardening focusses on trying to recreate that experience and is why I focus on things like cherry tomotoes, sugar snap peas, and berries.

I am now in my mid-thirties and have probably become slightly obsessed with gardening. I have a five year old who enjoys helping me with my garden and who is going to get her own raised bed to plant what she wants this year. Additionally, she got a "fairy garden" for her birthday this year. Recently, I saw on one of the few gardening shows (I only recently got cable and am disappointed in how few gardening shows are around that I did not already get from PBS with my antenna) on TV, a story about fairy gardens, and how they completely sold out. My daughter's appears to be an inexpensive but fun kit that grows wheat grass and has some painting and decorating projects. This seems like a very promising sign that these have become popular.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 1:24PM
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Does my six-year-old count? She doesn't provide much beyond OOhs and AAhs for a few seconds at a time and ever-encouraging emotional fortitude for flowers and "cute" living things making me think twice before killing a SPIDER and constant naggings, when are you going to plant my sunflower hut, momma? but only when she thinks of it. Usually at bedtime. When snow is still on the ground. I'll walk the grounds in spring and stumble upon one of those old plastic seedling containers with some plain ol' clay dirt with a gangly weed stuck in it. LOL

When the flowers are up and she's among them, the beauty is indistinguishable.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 7:35PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

She's young and she gardens, so she has to count, Bon. I think lots of kids who are exposed to gardening when they are young, whether it is from gardening with their parents or grandparents or neighbors or whoever, are indeed gardeners. To me, what they are doing is gardening, even if they really only physically engage in it a little bit here and there. Even if they do not continue it in their teens (so many other things to do, you know, and so little time), they often go back to it later in life.

All my dad's brothers, sisters and their spouses are gone now, as is my dad, but some of my best memories of each and every one of them is the veggie garden, fruit trees, roses and other flowers, etc. that they grew. In some cases, I was very, very young when I helped them in their gardens (I wonder now if I was more of a help or a hindrance) but I believed I was a gardener even then. I think that if a kid thinks they are gardening, then we must consider them a gardener or at least a gardener trainee. Often most of what they learn at such a young age is just the joy and fun of gardening. Later on, whey they're older, we'll teach them all about the drudgery.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 11:15PM
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When my kids were little we worked to give them a good experience in gardening. I helped them to have their own little patches, whenever they wanted. I still remember our middle girl, at age 5, going out every day to care for her carrot patch. We lived in rain forest environment. Yet the carrots were wilting terribly. Finally, one day, we followed her to her little garden (from a distance, so as not to disturb her routine). We discovered that, most days she was pulling the carrots up, to see how they were growing, and then pushing them back down into the ground!

That daughter is now in her mid twenties and has her own rose collection.

Our oldest, and only son, at age 5, was given the task to water our pumpkins and squash (Our kids were wild about growing pumpkins), with his little bucket. This was during the dry season. I noticed that our spaghetti squash were not looking so good. Again, we watched from a distance, as our son walked out and dutifully watered each hill of squash... skipping the spaghetti squash , which he detested! He is now married and avidly maintains his lawn and garden.

Our youngest loves the garden. But presently she's in the Army and in med school. So she is unable to garden. We'll see.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 11:05AM
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My son is 20 and he loves to garden. Although he was not raised with a garden we always tried to grow something. One summer we moved alot and he had a traveling flower garden.
When we first moved here we had a horrible gardening experience... drought, knew very little, planted too much and he said I am never doing this again. But now he has his own little family gardening is again in his heart.
I am not young but I have always had a passion for it just needed more knowledge, which is how I ended up here.
BTW I love all these stories

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 5:13PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

George, The story of your daughter and her carrots made me smile. It reminds me a lot of the days when Maddie and I made a Peter Rabbit Garden together when she was 2 years old. It was fenced in and had a nice little gate and a rabbit statue and a birdbath that had a rabbit on the base of it. Every evening she wanted us to open up the garden gate so all the rabbits could come into the garden and eat. I, of course, wanted the garden gate closed. We compromised by closing the gate but by putting out little handfuls of henscratch near (but outside) the fence. The rabbits beat a path to the fence to nibble the henscratch and, if she sat quietly nearby, she could watch the bunnies eat just before sunset. I don't think she ever really agreed with keeping the gate closed though. In her mind, what good was a Peter Rabbit Garden if we didn't let Peter Rabbit come into the garden to eat?

I expect some day your youngest daughter will find the time to have a garden, even if it is a relatively small one that's easier to maintain because it sounds like med school and her career will keep her really busy.

I feel like all us old fogies had tons more time to garden because back when we started gardening, there was no internet and not too many video games yet. Even as a kid, I'd rather be out in the dirt than sitting inside watching TV.

Kim, I am so happy to hear that gardening has found its way back into your son's heart.

It is hard even for very experienced gardeners to have a good garden during periods of severe, extreme or exceptional drought, but the more we work at dealing with the droughts, the better we get at dealing with those hyper-dry conditions. We have lots of tools to help us in drought years like drip irrigation systems, the use of mulch, and the use of shade cloth.

I marvel at how my dad's family was able to raise all their own food during the Dust Bowl years and still manage to stay alive. The few photos they have from that period do show very thin people, but they looked wiry and fit, not starved. They had no off-the-farm job that brought in any cash to spend on food (or anything else), the crops they tried to raise to sell failed in the absence of rainfall, and they knew that the only food they had to eat was what they raised themselves. Failure just wasn't an option. How many of us could survive in the same circumstances? (I don't even want to think about trying to do that!)

He did say that World War II saved them all from dying by giving them a way to get off the farm. All the boys went into the service where they were delighted to get three meals a day every day. None of them went back to live on the farm, and the girls married and moved away from the farm, but all of them gardened throughout most of their adult lives. When I was younger, I thought I understood what their childhood was like, but I think I developed a whole new appreciation for what they endured, living roughly 30 miles from where I now live, when I read the book "The Worst Hard Time". I began to understand why my dad's family would eat anything pickled. Anything. I understood why they thought lamb's quarters and poke salad were awesome treats. Those were the sorts of things that kept them well fed, or at least kept them alive.

We all are so lucky by comparison. We garden by choice and, yes, to allow us to grow more produce, perhaps, their own family budgets would allow us to buy, but we aren't in danger of starving if the garden crops fail.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 6:01PM
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my 12 year old figured out more garden is less lawn to mow? so he is a gardener

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 6:22PM
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I'm 24 and have loved gardening since I was a child. My parents did not actively keep up their flower beds, and I used to enjoy tending the plants here and there. Since I moved away and have my own family now, it's a great joy of mine to go outside and plant flowers and vegetables with my children. The sun is so healing, and the kids always behave themselves when they can run around in the great outdoors. I think gardening is making a comeback amongst the younger crowd. Especially now that technology has afforded us the ability to gain instant knowledge of so many things (like gardening) that may have otherwise been lost to us.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 9:39PM
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I, too, love reading all these stories. George, that curator of carrots was diligent!! hahaha

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 12:20AM
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hi there - i'm young and i garden. :-) my mom, shankins123 (aka sharon) got me interested in growing when i received my very own cherry tomato plant to care for. i don't exactly remember what age i was, but i think it was somewhere around 3 (correct me if i'm wrong, mom). it was cool enough that i remembered it. we had a garden on and off growing up, and one of my favorite activities was to go treasure hunting (digging up potatoes). it still is one of my favorite activities. :-)

i'm now 27 and have 2 raised beds in my backyard (bought a house last june), 2 compost piles, and my first flock of chicks (they're a week old today, and none of them have died!). i did balcony gardening in an apartment before that, and attempted vermiculture (which failed miserably).

i also run the community garden at southern nazarene university (it is separate from my day job). this is its third year, and we have 500 square feet, a greenhouse, and a shed. i do the best with what we have to provide a space where students, faculty, and staff can come together and learn about gardening, food, and what it means to be in community with each other and nature, and we have 23 people signed up this year. i'm also teaching a class on sustainable living for SNU's honors program, and the people who participate in that class will have to participate in the community garden. it's going to be a really great class - the end-of-semester project is taking a meal completely from farm to table (if we can), or at least buying our produce for the meal we make ourselves from the farmer's market. that gets at both how food is grown as well as what to do with it after it's harvested.

it's certainly a fun adventure!!

- katie

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:21PM
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That's awesome, katie!

Hubs and I were explaining to our son yesterday how imperative these basic life skills we're showing will influence the future. I mean chopping wood, "making dirt" (compost), the booooring worms, growing and eating non contaminated veggies, good bugs, bad bugs and other tidbits of ecological balances.

Today I will tell him about you . I really think the future is headed in a dramatic change regarding sustainability. Possibly some serious clashes to come as some American children cannot identify a potato.

My 9 yo son doesn't watch TV but catches much online, "Mom, white bread isn't good for us. We should learn to make our own bread, too." He totally misses the obvious indicators of my work on that very matter: a (presently dead) plot of wheat outside, rising bread on the counter top, stash of wheat berries. Takes after me. Bill pipes up about Ukraine and I'm like "Civil unrest? War? What potential war?"

On the flip side, home school studies: robotic engineering, heavy math, physics and geometry. This little boy's future is definitely different than anything I've known!


    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 4:11AM
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Sharon here (also known as mother of Katie)...

Yes - I think you were 3 yrs old...that came after 2-yr-old Katie helped her momma harvest carrots...that were only about 2 inches long!
Katie and I have a wonderful time with regard to gardening, food, etc. My love of gardening came from my mom early on, my dad in later years.
For gardening to flourish and grow (metaphorically and physically!), each generation has to teach the next or we'll lose the wisdom and knowledge that has been passed down through the ages.

I think we're in pretty good hands!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 5:36PM
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I am so glad I found this thread! I was thinking about starting a similar one to reach out to other "young" people!
I am 21 and have always been interested in gardening! I grew up, and still live, in Harrah, Oklahoma. About 45 mins. east of OKC.
When I was younger my grandmother had a big peony bush and a nice sized flower bed, but it never lasted long between weeds, kids, dogs, and the heat. She and my grandpa would occasionally grow potatoes, squash, and tomatoes, but always gave it up when it got extremely hot. I would say they caught my initial interest.( Unfortunately as I’ve gotten older and more knowledgeable I realized my grandparents really don’t know that much about gardening. My grandfather and I share the plot in front of their house and I had to REALLY argue my point that after 5 years of growing potatoes in the same place without adding any soil amendments, we were about to have some SERIOUS problems. He finally let me put compost in it and agreed to plant the potatoes in a different spot).
Anyway, Around 13 I started to fill my front flower bed and tons of pots, but never with anything I could eat, and it almost always all died in the heat of summer. (Unfortunate result of knowing nothing about plants and what will survive here!)
When I was about 17, after I had moved out of my parents house and started renting in Edmond, I started getting interested in vegetables and herbs, but never had the space, and couldn't stand to think about putting all that work into a place I wouldn't live in for a longer than a year or two. At 19, I moved back home, partially because of how much I wanted to garden, and wasted no time! My garden is still about 1/4 the size I really need, but we are working on our new plot. My husband and I got married in July and are completely renovating the garage house/apartment next door and it has a very large patch of yard on the south side of it that I fully intend to turn into a giant garden!
Being young and being interested in self-sufficiency and gardening is not easy, though. Like Mike said "many people think that what we do is crazy or dumb" I’ve had so many fights with my father about the garden in our back yard . One of my best friends who is in her mid-twenties won’t even eat anything I cook if it came out of my garden! (Picked garlic from outside to use in a dish and she says “are you going to put that in our food?” “Well, yes Brittany.” “Uhh from outside?” “Yes? Where do you think garlic comes from?” “Uh, The store!”). My generation (Millennials? Generation Y? IDK) Have grown up very dependent on “the system” I suppose you could call it, we are very reliant on the things available to us that we can obtain with money, and why go through all that work for your food when you can go to a drive through and have a meal in 3 minutes. Although I have seen a lot more of my peers getting interested, I have yet to see anyone REALLY get into it with more than a few plants. I also think that, like many people have said already, Most people will pick it up later in life when things slow down, and there isn’t anything wrong with that! It’s just always encouraging when I meet other people my age that are actively gardening and interested, because I know the second we start talking that they know that feeling of achievement and pride from being able to provide for yourself which our generation so often misses out on.
I am so sorry that was so long, but I just felt very compelled to share that awful novel with every one!Sorry!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 4:11PM
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Joshuaaanb, thank you so much for sharing! We all have stuff to overcome and/or learn. I'm glad your folks have at least tried to grow things, and, obviously, you must be "wired" for it. You and your husband should hopefully learn and grow in this area for many years to come. I have such fond memories of my wife and I, during our first few years of marriage and gardening.

We have some friends who are just a couple years ahead of you, in a similar journey. They're doing GREAT! I'm sure you will too. And, WELCOME to our forum! Hopefully you will drop in more.

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 6:20PM
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I'm 23 and am starting my first real garden on my own. I grew up with a grandma that taught me to quilt and preserve/can things and somehow that led to wanting to garden. I love being outside and sometimes feel overwhelmed by how much I need to learn.

My husband and I just bought a cute house in Edmond and we tilled a 20'X20' plot a few months ago. There are worms everywhere so I'm guessing our soil is good :P and I got a composter for Christmas so that will be going to good use.

I will definitely be posting a bunch of questions. I'm wanting a completely organic garden and have been looking into some cover crops for this fall.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 10:44PM
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Welcome to Joshua and H-H!!

Make like a sponge because this forum oozes gardening wisdom. Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories!


    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 10:53PM
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I'm not young (41) but am an avid gardener. I grew up in the NE where gardening was not quite as challenging as it is here in OK. We had many fruit trees, grape vines and a very large, productive garden. I love gardening but seldom meet others my age that have a true passion for gardening! I would love to get a group together in Edmond that we can meet, share items, tips etc. Guess this is a good place to start. We could meet once a quarter (or more). Any takers? I also make all my own compost and would love to grow my gardening knowledge by gardening with others in my Oklahoma area that have more experience than I do!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 6:45PM
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How neat that this question brought responses from so many new or rarely seen names. I am encouraged that our group is larger than it sometimes seems to be.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 10:20PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Mia, Your comment on bulk seeds caught my eye as I was reading back through this thread. Actually, bulk seeds would be perfect for people with small gardens. As we use the term bulk seed here, it is referring to a now-practically-extinct method of having large bulk containers of seeds in the stores, and the customer just uses a little scoop or spoon to take out however many seeds they want, put them in a little seed packet or, for some larger seeds like bean and corns, into small brown paper bags. You then mark the packet or bag with the name of the seed you're buying. In some stores, you weigh the packet and write the weight on it yourself, and in other stores, they weigh it and mark it for you.

At the two places where I have found and purchased bulk seeds in the last few years, one had each variety in its own glass jar with a lid that either pops on or off or one that screws on and off. There is a photo of the appropriate veggie, flower or herb variety on each jar. In the other store, the seeds are in little cans sort of like paint cans, and the size of the cans varies depending on how large the seeds are. Each can has a manufacturer's label that also features a photo. If you want 400 corn seeds, you can use the scoop and guestimate how many to pour into the bag, or you can pour them into your hand and count them. If you want 5 squash seeds, you can buy only 5. When I am buying bulk seeds, I always feel like I have stepped back in time about 25-30 years, but in a good way.

I also miss the sale of plants like collards, cabbage or broccoli, sold bare root as young seedlings bundled together with rubber bands. The roots of the plants usually were sitting in potting soil, and when you picked up a bundle to purchase, they had newspaper there for you to wrap around the roots to contain the soil. After you purchased them, you brought them home and planted them immediately. They were ridiculously cheap, and as long as you planted them right away and watered them in, they usually looked wilted for a day or two and then perked right up and began growing. I haven't seen plants sold that way in a nursery or farm store since around 2000 or 2001.

Katie, What a marvelous gardening adventure! I hope you'll keep us posted on your community gardening adventures and also on how your class goes. I'm so excited to hear you have a house now with a room for a garden and for chickens.

Sharon, Right here in your own family we've been able to see how your parents love of gardening passed down to you and then how you have passed on that love of gardening to Katie. It is cool to see that. I agree that the fate of home gardening is indeed in good hands.

Bon, Your comment that some kids don't recognize a potato made me feel sad, but when you think about it, why would they? These days, people can buy potatoes in the freezer case, all cut up and ready to steam and mash. I don't blame working parents for using shortcuts like that to get dinner on the table on a busy day, but I hate that so many people think food comes from a bag, a box, or a pouch, instead of understanding it all comes from the ground or from water (hydroponics).

I'm always kinda amused (in an I-am-laughing-with-you-not-at-you sort of way) when a visitor to my garden who is not a gardener sees a potato plant in bloom and incorrectly assumes the flower is what gives us potatoes. I try to keep a silly grin off my face as I explain that the potato grows underground and that we don't eat the green seed-producing fruit produced by those pretty potato flowers.

The really young people I see interested in gardening here all come from families that garden, and generally from families that farm or ranch or that at least have a few animals because the kids are involved in 4-H or FFA. Some have grandparents who maintain very large gardens that feed several families, and the kids and grandkids help the grandparents with the big garden but do not necessarily have separate gardens themselves.

I always think there is hope, though, that people will become more and more deeply involved in growing their own food over time. Once you get used to having fresh, home-grown food that can literally go from your garden to the kitchen to be used in the next meal, you get spoiled and want to have that superior form of produce whenever possible.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 9:46AM
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George and Bon, thank you for such a warm welcome! You all are so nice on here! I have been a shadow to these forums for a year or so now, but only just signed up in response to this post! I haven't felt the need to post anything yet as I still don't know nearly enough to start giving advice on things!

I really feel like I already know half of you all! I think Dawn has already said something like this in another post long before, but I have read some of the other forums and you cannot beat the generosity, patience, and kindness of this Oklahoma forum!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 4:31PM
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wannabeGardnr(7 Maryland)

Define young. I suppose most people under 30 would not own a home with a yard to garden, or be too much in student loan debt or just busy getting their life started. You need some time to garden, though the avid gardener will find some time.
Both my parents were into plants. I had a potted ivy plant in my dorm room in college. When I moved to my own rented apartment after 25, I got 1 or two houseplants. Then I moved to an apartment with a balcony where I grew flowers, herbs and tomatoes. Finally bought a house 4 years ago and caught the gardening bug badly. Started tinkering with small existing plantings and finally after fencing the backyard last year, I am on my way to have my own backyard garden. Young people growing up in the country might have a closer connection to the land and more access to it and get their hands into gardening earlier.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 4:51PM
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At 7 yrs old I was out in the fields with my Grandfather digging up tators. He had a HUGE vegetable garden down in McCurtain County. When I moved to Norman I would grow tomatoes in my flower beds at whatever house I was renting at the time. When I bought my first house in my 20's I fenced in an area in the backyard and started my first REAL garden. At a very young 34 yrs old I have a big veggie garden and continue to enjoy the hobby.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 1:34PM
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I come from a family that constantly had the most embarrassing yard on the street. We couldn't keep grass alive let alone anything else. Granted we didn't even try. Then I got married and my wife's father is an avid Iris grower. He has a huge bed with some 200 varieties. When we moved into our rental house I was so excited for Spring. I have spent so much energy and money on this little patch of land that won't even be mine in a few years, but I have loved every minute of it. We call it my hobby money and think the experience and joy is well worth it. I'm 24 and hope to have decades of gardening to come!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 12:02AM
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Lots of great stories on this one!
I'm 56, so no way I qualify as young.
I had an absolute blast getting the 4 grandkids out yesterday to plant a raised bed that has been designated for them. We only planted onions and lettuce, but you would have thought they were doing the greatest thing on earth. The 4 and 5 year old did great, but they've done this before. The 2 two year olds were into it a whole lot more than I expected.
Who knows, maybe we'll get them interested in gardening for the long haul?
My kids, their parents are always interested in some of the stuff I harvest, but to this point haven't started doing gardening on their own.
The onions were some I had potted up for replacements in my main onion patch, once the cutworms do their invasion. As far as the lettuce goes, if by some freak chance what they planted doesn't take off, I have Romaine potted up in the greenhouse. They will grow something, even if I have to cheat!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 7:44PM
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Hey now, remember that age is a 'state of mind'.

At any rate, I will be 29 in 8 days. I very much enjoy gardening.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 8:02PM
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Im 25. My 5 year old son LOVES to work in the garden. My 8 year old enjoys it as well. I agree that many younger people seem to die when the word "yard work" or "gardening" comes up, but I love it.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 8:09PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I recommended Garden Web forums to a young lady who was working at a hotel where we recently stayed. She expressed her love for gardening, and she is 23.

Most of us learn from our parents or grandparents, and we have it inside. Sometimes it takes time to develop.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 8:25PM
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I'm not exactly sure what qualifies as "young" for you.

I'm 34 and I have a vegetable garden. I started gardening 4 years ago.

My daughter is 11, so I know she qualifies as "young". She's raising a salad garden and green beans this spring. This summer she's planning a melon garden. She gardens her areas entirely on her own--she plants, waters, treats for bugs, covers with plastic on cold nights, harvests and washes up her own stuff.

The biggest problem we've found with gardening is it's a really big job to learn the hows, whys and whens. I think the generation who raised us had little interest in gardening so they don't usually have any knowledge to pass down. My mother never gardened. If my grandmother ever did then I didn't know it. My great grandmother had a garden, but she lived so far away from us I only know about it's existence through pictures.

4 years ago I started gardening with my kids. Last year my daughter started her own garden area. And this spring my mother has started lettuce and radishes and a couple of tomato plants. She's not sure she can keep them alive, but she's trying.

I have a friend who lives in California who gardens with her kids. I envy her her raised beds. :) She's 27. Her husband helps her. He's 28. Their kids are 3, 4 and 6.

But I still wish I saw more people my age at the garden centers and more kids learning the joy (and trials) of gardening.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 3:46PM
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It's interesting to see so many young gardeners. I was beginning to wonder if there were many on these boards as well. It's actually a nice sized group.

Mulberryknob...I'm a lurker. I still consider myself new enough to not have anything worthwhile to share. I usually come to these pages to read up and learn what I don't know or what I've done wrong this year...or what to do before I do it wrong! Ha!

Anyway...have loved this thread.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 3:58PM
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I am proud to say both our daughter have gardens. They love it. They do a lot of canning and freezing. We always had a big garden but gave it up a few years back. Then all of a sudden my hubby wanted a garden again. It is funny because when our daughters come they go to the garden before coming In the house. Our youngest daughter always takes the first ripe tomato from her garden to an elderly neighbor.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 4:08PM
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