Appalachia Gardening

Garden or Lawn?

Our spring garden is moving right along-we hope to eat lettuce, radishes, and onions out of it within a week or so. Over the last several years (since the economy took a nose dive) I’ve noticed people tilling up new ground for gardens. This spring-the trend is continuing in my area.

Some folks are giving up part of their lawn-while others are turning fields that have lain barren for most of my lifetime. I noticed one house down the road-they moved their pasture fences in leaving less room for the cows but more room for gardening.

As the increase in gardening country wide has taken hold groups such as Foods Not Lawns International¬†have sprung up and it’s become quite the trendy thing to work in your ‘edible landscape’ instead of trimming the hedges or feeding the roses.

For us the lawn hasn’t never been that important. It’s a good thing cause neither of us have figured out how to grow lush green grass in red clay on the north side of the mountain. I do love a nice yard though-especially if you have kids. As our kids have gotten older-and played in the yard less-we’ve gradually taken parts of it to add a raised bed for vegetables, plant blueberry bushes and fruit trees. In fact we took up a large portion of the backyard this past weekend with a new project-that’s why the swing sets came down (more on what we did later).

I’ll leave you with some questions:

*Do you notice more people gardening where you live?

*Have you made an effort to grow more since the economic downturn?



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  • Reply
    May 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Joe-we say yard too : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    May 4, 2011 at 7:52 am

    A bit late, but we have always refered to the area that we have to mow as the “yard,” rather than the lawn. Gotta mow the yard.
    Otherwise, I always had a garden as a kid, loved to see things grow, and hope to cut a big chunk out of the yard for a garden sometime. Less yard to mow and more fresh food to eat.

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    April 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I’m a little slow. Sorry.
    Whether or not more people are actually gardening in my area, more people are interested in gardening. I have most of my “crops” in the front yard as does my neighbor and good friend a couple of doors down. Lots of people in our neighborhood walk. We have both noticed so many people stopping to comment on what we are growing.
    My arugula is amazing. So peppery. My first year bed asparagus is doing surprisingly well. So so on the tomatoes. Green beans are just taking off. I’m excited.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2011 at 9:30 am

    You know I hear a lot about people planting gardens that never have before. But I haven’t seen much in my area.
    I’m with ya on the trying to grow things in the clay. It doesn’t work out well down here. But we keep trying year after year.

  • Reply
    April 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

    We’ve wanted a garden for years, but the landlady wouldn’t let us, and there was no community garden in our little town. Now that we’ve got the acreage, we’re going nuts with it…probably biting off more than we can chew, but we’re okay with that. It’s not about money so much as about knowing what got sprayed on our food, and how it was grown…and a chance to get our fingers in the dirt…

  • Reply
    April 14, 2011 at 7:27 am

    We’ve always had a large garden and try to produce and preserve as much as we can every year. There’s really no good reason not to.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    April 13, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    We live almost completely in the woods, so no garden. My 84 year old mother is starting to work on her summer patch, though. She always takes pity on her poor shade bound daughter with those home grown tomatoes & believe me, I’m grateful!

  • Reply
    SandyCarlson (USA)
    April 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    These days I think grass is an old-school concept, an anachronistic measure of wealth–how much land don’t you need to use? So much better to grow and to thrive.

  • Reply
    Jerry McKelvy
    April 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Want to try a literal “raised bed” garden? Just fill your pickup truck bed with good rich soil and plant your vegetables. We can’t afford to drive them anyway with these high gas prices.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    April 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Laundry detergent is expensive. Good cuts of beef are expensive. Prepared foods are expensive. Canned green beans, canned corn, a sack of potatoes, a can of tomatoes, basic canned vegetables are not expensive. What we grow and preserve from our garden is not a list of otherwise expensive foodstuffs.
    If my potatoes yielded 100 pounds of potatoes, I know I could have bought that amount for about thirty dollars. And, a hundred pounds of potatoes would last Kasie and me months … years?
    I’m not sure there is an economy in growing and canning foods.
    There is a value beyond the economy, however. It’s found first in the therapy of being outdoors, working the soil, hearing nature, and doing these things with your family. It’s found in the pleasure of watching plants emerge, grow, bloom and produce their fruits. It’s found when we bite into that first ripe tomato, those radishes, the sweet bell peppers, carrots, enjoyed fresh from the earth. It’s found in the awe we feel when we contemplate how much of God’s workings and designs are used and displayed as a garden happens.
    We see the goodness of Providence in a garden.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Most of my neighbours have big gardens with a lawn. Considering our high temps in summer and our water shortage, it’s not easy to grow a lawn in Cyprus. But most people here use recycled water for their lawns. I live in a flat and don’t have a garden. I wish I had!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    April 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Although I love to look at a well manicured lawn with the criss-cross mowing every other mow, etc..To me it just feels more ‘homey and woodsy’ to have a casual lawn but do fight a few out of place wildflowers (weeds) sometimes.
    We shut down our big garden after the boys left home, and put in raised beds in our front yard years ago…
    More garden spots are popping up around here as well. Folks are growing peppers and tomatoes in large pots on patios and decks, more than a novelty nowadays.
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    April 13, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve noticed more gardens in my area and some being enlarged. I’ve been gardening for years and continue to do so, not only to help our pocketbook but also because I enjoy it and IMO it’s better for us.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    April 13, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    we are planting via “Global Bucket” systems – works well and we get to keep our yard space available for great-grandchildren, cookouts, sitting under the oak tree, hiding places for Easter Eggs!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I’ve never cared about a lawn…to much work for something you can’t eat or wear! Everything around my house is asphalt and woods and I do love the woods.
    My little bit of woods allows me to have critters like birds, squirrels, raccoons and bears visit.
    Like you, Tipper, I have noticed more folks converting lawn space to raised beds and gardens I think it is smart and respectable considering our times.
    My friend Saleh, who already has garden and fruit trees is still converting his front lawn into more edible things, including herbs. He has great respect for providing his own food.
    We are relearning what our grandparents already knew….we take care of ourselves!
    Can’t wait to see your post on “more on what we did later” your readers are going to be sooo surprised!

  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    About everyone around here is
    fixin’ a garden. I plan on doing
    a bit more this year than before
    too. Your onions sure look healthy. That’s one thing I can’t
    raise, they come up, look great
    and when they get about a foot tall, just disappear. I like the
    strong ones to cook with and buy
    lots of them all thru the year.
    I thought about tearing up some
    lawn a bit closer to my shop and
    have an early garden. I believe
    mowing the grass is easier tho.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I have noticed more people making gardens in their backyards. This reminds me of WWII and victory gardens!
    My father is still fighting our yellow clay and spends a lot of time every year aerating, seeding and feeding his lawn. I never did care about a lawn – as long as anything not planted with flowers or vegetables is green, it’s good enough for me!
    It’s not quite gardening season up here yet, so this opportunity to think and write about it is much appreciated! Can’t wait to hear about your new project!

  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I am expanding mine this year and looking forward to reaping the benefits soon. It only makes sense if one has the room.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 11:03 am

    When we moved into our current home, there was a lovely bed of tulips out front – beautiful, coveted by all the neighbors, and plentiful. The only proper thing to do was to tear every one of them out of the ground to make more room for vegetables. So that’s what we did.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Tipper, last year our street had a garden, and we shared all summer long. My son who, as a teen, didn’t even know how to start the mower, planted one, too. This year, we’re trying my hand at it in a small plot in our backyard. Wish us luck!

  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 9:01 am

    No gorgeous lawn here–we have that same red clay soil. I live way out in the sticks, where everyone has always gardened. A lot of our neighbors seem to be in a contest of it most years.
    Our raised bed garden is considered odd around here, as most folks just till the ground and plant.(We are hoping to convert them, LOL!). But, I have noted several lawns being tilled up in the little town 20 miles from us, so I guess even the town folks are looking at those huge grocery prices.
    We also have a huge ‘community’ potato patch over on my brothers property. There are potatoes planted there for at least seven families. Everyone is worried about gas and grocery prices.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    April 13, 2011 at 8:48 am

    A comment on Mary’s comment: We all know that there is a big difference between talkin’ and walkin’! It’ll be interesting to see how many folks talkin’ about doing a garden go forward with it. Getting pretty late to be talkin’.
    Unfortunately, we live in a pretty urbanized area, so not much yard gardening going on.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 7:50 am

    As our age increases and the kids leave we garden even less. However all that means is that we cut down from 3 gardens to 2 : )
    We have always had big gardens regardless of the trends as they come and go. We try to keep our yard neat and mowed and I plant flowers but don’t really get carried away. The fruit trees are always there and I can what fruit I want and then give away the rest or feed it to the pigs and chickens.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 7:47 am

    I try to encourage my facebook friends to at least try to grow something and I try to make posts of what I’m planting but I never get any responses that anyone has. Also, I am really not noticing any additional dark brown squares in anyone’s back yard around here. Guess they haven’t been pinched tight enough yet.

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    April 13, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Yes, gardens do seem to have increased.. what bothers me is they recently voted at the city council as to if chickens could be kept in urban areas. Lots of chickens are now being seen running around loose where people are keeping them in the yards of their suburbanite homes. I do not mind hearing the roosters all around me, its a nice sound. But since the number has increased so much, they took it before the council to vote as to it being ok and how many and such as that. Well, they voted it down! And there are still chickens all over the place. But I guess they can start enforcing it now. They said that they had to vote it down, as there might begin to be ducks, etc. Well.. I have a duck!! A Easter gift for one of the kids, years ago! They better not come and try to take Captain Sebastian! I know chickens are not gardens, but I felt like its sorta connected. Gardens and chickens. And.. ducks.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 6:36 am

    I’ve never had the urge to have a well manicured lawn – ever. I grew up in the hills and their undisturbed beauty was far more eye candy than any well manicured lawn.
    I can’t say that I’ve noticed any more but folks have always had gardens around here.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 5:29 am

    Around here, in the Missouri hills, I know a lot mote people are ‘talking’ about gardening. I wonder though, some of them are the same people who couldn’t manage to drive to our garden last year to pick the bonus tomatoes, green beans etc, we could not even give away.
    Our garden will be a little bigger this year, there are a couple neighbor folks who due to age and health will have to cut theirs back, we are taking up some of the slack for them.

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