Okay, it’s not actually true. There are a lot of garden gurus in the northeastern US as well. But it seems like every time I check out a new gardening or urban homesteading book, or an inspirational video or story, the authors and subjects always seems to be in California. Even granting that Southern Cal and the Bay Area have a whole lot of people living there, it seems out of proportion.
Part of it, I think, is a sense of joy and wonder that urban dwellers — sometimes multiple generations away from the idea of a garden — feel when they experience the process of growing something you plan to eat. Unlike the dense cities of the northeast, California dwellers often have a little bit of land to grow something on without having to resort to finding odd spots. Here in the south, many if not most of us grew up weeding and stringing and snapping green beans for the rows of mason jars being lined up in the pantry. Whether it was our parents, our grandparents or our neighbors (or all of them!) tilling up a rectangle and planting it, a garden was utterly normal.
“Normal” shouldn’t stop us from experiencing that sense of joy and wonder. Perhaps we need more YouTube videos from excited Los Angeles suburbanites.
There’s three other reasons, though, ones less philosophical. Weather, pests and diseases. California’s major population centers have a lot less of all of them. In the 20 years I lived in California, I don’t recall checking the weather once for my garden, and only rarely to check if it was going to be too hot for some activity. The assumption is it’s going to be warm or hot during the day (depending on the season), rather cooler at night, and it’s not going to rain. Like the under-worked weather forecaster from LA Story said, weather is boring in California. A frost is a major news event, not 5 months of the year. And while California has it’s share of major agricultural pests, I never once lost a plant to a disease or bug there. Dealing with the lack of rainfall isn’t a problem as long as the water keeps coming out of the end of the hose.
That’s not to say gardeners in California don’t have their challenges; gardens everywhere do. But gardeners, as a rule, love to share their successes, and when you have a reliable, warm year-round growing season you are bound to have a lot of successes. I enjoy reading about, watching and celebrating the successes of gardeners everywhere.
But if you are a neophyte gardener, or even a veteran one, and find yourself struggling with challenges while it seems “everyone else” online is having a raging success, remember that gardener in Zone 3 who wonders if their crops will ripen before their utterly normal early first frost happens, the Mississippi gardener who just assumes they’ll lose tomato plants to blight and the gardener in Texas who spends a few minutes in the garden every morning squishing eggs so the leaf-footed squash bugs don’t totally kill their crop. You won’t find many inspirational videos that cover the un-sexy daily challenges people face in their gardens every day, but you have a lot of company.
(By Nicole Castle)