As baby boomers enter their 50s and 60s - the peak years of active home gardening - the number of gardeners is growing. Gardeners inspire new gardeners, so children and even grandchildren are seeing more home gardens being grown each year.
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.
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 – they make people happier and can also curb the effects of depression. In some cases freshly cut blooms work as well as prescribed medicines.
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? 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.