Rather than paying $3 or $4 per pound for vegetables and fruits at the grocery store and canned veggies and fruits for $1 or more per can, people are beginning to see the advantage of rolling up their sleeves and growing their own gardens.
According to the National Gardening Association (www.nationalgardenmonth.org), a group that's been monitoring lawn and garden trends for about 30 years, "The amount of money spent on vegetable gardening (in 2007) increased 20 percent." Though numbers from the 2008 survey won't be available until later this year, NGA estimates there may be an increase of 10 percent in vegetable gardening for 2009.
Fulton County Extension Agent Brad McGinley said he has seen a rise in residents bringing in soil samples to be tested so they know whether or not to treat their soil before planting.
Along with growing more gardens, people are also curious about doing their own canning. After all that gardening, gardeners might have too many vegetables and fruits to deal with and throwing out good food isn't very cash-strapped savvy. Canning is a good way to save all those fruits and vegetables for eating during the winter and all through the following year, but there are different ways of canning for each vegetable or fruit that depends on their acidity levels.
Low acid vegetables, such as peas, carrots and corn, require either pickling or the use of a pressure cooker.
Those that are fairly high in acidity such as tomatoes don't have to be pressure cooked. These can be canned by boiling the jars in a vat of water for about 15 minutes.
Fruits can be made into jelly or pie filling.
MaLinda Coffman, of the University Extension office, said she is planning on doing a canning demonstration sometime over the summer for kids and perhaps later on for adults who are interested in knowing how to can.
Another way people can deal with their extra produce is to sell it at a local farmers' market such as on the square at the courthouse in Salem. Farmers' markets are great for those who don't have the time for gardening and yet still want fresh fruits and vegetables. Farmers' markets also keep the market local and supports the local gardeners and farmers.