A Look Towards the New Year

Happy New Year, gardeners! Here in Florida, we’re fortunate to have all 12 months to garden; there’s something to grow every month. But first, let’s take a look at the whole of 2019. What will the new year bring to us in terms of trends and new interests?

We gardeners are already pretty in tune with nature, but it looks like more people are finally getting the message. According to Garden Media Group, a marketing and public relations firm, people are turning their attention outwards. Last year was all about “self-care,” but 2019 will find people looking for external fulfillment, especially when it comes to the environment. Their Garden Trends Report 2019 is titled “Rooted Together – Reconnecting with the Natural World.”

planting_treeOne statistic in the report stood out – a return to volunteerism. More than a quarter of people between the ages of 18-34 volunteer, exceeding the national average, according to the Corporation for National and Community Services. If they’re interested in gardening, potential volunteers should consider the Master Gardener program. The Florida Master Gardener program has been assisting UF/IFAS Extension agents in providing research-based horticultural education to Florida residents for 40 years (yes, this year is our 40th anniversary! More on that in an upcoming post.).

Other gardening trends reflect our changing world in respect to technology and the environment.

Indoor Gardening – Reports show that Americans spend approximately 93% of their time either indoors or in a car. And with so many of us tied to our desks at work, interest in houseplants has soared. And for good reason – houseplants can make an indoor environment healthier.

A Focus on Flying Insects – or rather, the lack thereof. In “Silent Spring,” Rachel Carson warned us of bird die-offs due to the overuse of aerial pesticide sprays. Today, another “voice” is being silenced: pollinators and other flying insects. A recent German study shocked many when it reported a 75% drop in the number of flying insects in nature preserves over 30 years. Gardeners can fight this in their own backyards with insect gardens (not just attracting pollinators like butterflies), using native plants to encourage native insects, and to “go wild” – that is, let parts of your landscape naturalize to attract wildlife.

A toy dump truck with succulents planted in the backRoot to Stem – Gardeners are becoming interested in ways to produce less waste, and not just with composting (although that’s an excellent example). Instead of sending your trash off to be “recycled,” which uses a lot of energy in of itself, try “upcycling,” which is just a term for creative re-use of things you’d otherwise throw away. A good example would be using empty egg cartons as seed-starting containers.

Robo-gardening – scientists are using drones to assess crop damage, while soil-moisture sensors can reduce over-watering. Wireless plant monitoring systems are in development. And many gardeners are already using apps on their phones to help with plant choices and to tell them when certain foods are in season.

There were also less-serious trends, like the color mint becoming popular, and “moon gardening,” which we’ll actually be talking about in the upcoming Neighborhood Gardener newsletter.

Like many trends, these may be things you’ve been doing for years, but it’s always fun to guess what will be “hot” for the coming year. We’ll see if these trends bear out.

If you’re more interested in what you should be doing in the garden, the Gardening Calendar publications on the UF/IFAS Solutions for Your Life website gives Florida gardeners a monthly guide for what to plant and do in their gardens and includes links to useful gardening websites, all based on University of Florida research and expertise. Three different editions of the calendar provide specific tips for each of Florida’s climate zones—North, Central, and South.

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