The green is in the garden

March 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The White House is cultivating a growing trend. Why pay for what you can grow yourself? Home gardening is one business that is booming in this recession.

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Jane Morgan and Brooke Crosland of Palo Alto are testing their green thumbs. These roommates are planting their very own vegetable garden. First order of business was tomatoes.

"It's been really enjoyable and I'm looking forward to eating something at some point," said Brooke Crosland, a home gardener.

Jane and Brooke represent an increasing number of people growing their own food. Garden supply centers throughout the Bay Area say seeds and vegetable plants are selling like crazy. Workers at Common Ground Garden Supply in Palo Alto for instance say sales are up more than 25-percent compared to last year.

"And there are a lot more people signing up for our classes, and a lot more phone calls and a lot more emails," said Patricia Becker, from Common Ground Garden Supply.

Interest is also booming in San Francisco. At a community garden on Page Street, the number of people waiting for a plot has more than tripled over the past several months.

Industry experts cite a number of reasons for the uptick in interest, from concerns over the environment to the economy.

Home gardening not only reduces one's carbon footprint, it can end up being a money saver. The National Gardening Association says $70 worth of seeds and other material can yield $600 worth of produce.

"So you plant these lettuce seeds for $2.79 and you just keep harvesting all summer long or all spring long depending on when you plant it," said Becker.

But it does involve a bit of work and all of the effort doesn't always turn out as planned.

"My tomatoes last year weren't cost effective because they all died, but this year we're hoping to prepare our garden better so it will turn out a good crop," said Jane Morgan, a home gardener.

And that's what more people are counting on, as more people are hoping to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

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