Stay-at-home dads changing gardening trends

Marianne C. Ophardt, WSU Benton County ExtensionJanuary 17, 2014 

The Garden Media Group (GMG) has the crystal ball when it comes to predicting and perhaps even creating gardening trends.

In their annual trends report, GMG said that a role reversal is occurring in our country, with more men staying at home as "Mr. Moms." In fact, the number has doubled in the past 10 years. An increasing number (40 percent) of women are the breadwinners

With more dads taking on the role of the primary care-giver for preschoolers, it is not surprising that parenting styles are shifting. With dads in charge, schedules are more spontaneous and there are more "outdoorsy, playful and risk-taking activities." One of those activities is likely to be gardening, since more young men, ages 18 to 34 years old, are interested in gardening.

Young male gardeners spend about $100 more than the average gardener on lawn and garden. Because men are comfortable shopping at hardware stores, 21 percent do their garden shopping at hardware stores instead of at garden centers.

Also according to GMG, men are particularly interested in hot peppers, "the hotter the better." Plus, men are interested in growing their own hops and grapes because of their increasing interest in making their own wine and beer.

Home winemaking, beer crafting and green smoothies are a trend that GMG calls "drinking your yard." Gardeners are embracing the juicer movement and creating "Groothies," or green smoothies, using homegrown leafy greens and fruit. There are new books that combine the gardening and juicing trends, such as Drink Your Own Garden, and Grow & Juice.

Another trend that GMG points to is the continued increase in food gardening. Surveys indicate that the number of people participating in food gardening has increased each year for the past six years, with more money spent on food gardening than on flower gardening. That's why the number of vegetable transplants offered by big box stores and mass marketers has increased during the past several years. Vegetable transplants had practically disappeared in these stores before that.

It is no shock that billions of dollars are spent on Christmas, weight loss activities, pets, weddings, casinos, flowers and more. GMG said that gardening is also big business, with lawn and garden spending ranking third after Christmas and weight loss spending. It would rank second if the $7 billion spent on garden gnomes and other garden accessories was included.

Keep in mind that the money you spend on gardening is an investment in your well being, whether it is a more nutritious diet, a healthier lifestyle, a greener world, a prettier yard or better mental health.

-- Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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