Gardening Under Attack Online on “Garden” Blogs
The internet has been a boon to gardeners seeking information. A simple click of the mouse brings up thousands of pages on any topic of gardening. Gardening professionals as well are clicking away to find information, treatments and cures for insects disease and even for finding new products to offer. The internet also offers a tool to find the best deals at competitors as well. But a look below the surface finds a growing grass root effort to change the way Americans garden.
Blogs have grown very popular over the last five years. It only makes sense since the term blogging has gone from geek speak to main stream. Once the realm of late night political radicals, bloggers now cover every topic imaginable from politics to yes even petunias. A recent survey by a Washington newspaper showed there are now at least 800 blogs dedicated just to the subject of gardening.
Within the gardening blogosphere one finds sub topics covering all the differing aspects of gardening. There are dozens of blogs on organic gardening, sustainable gardening, city gardening, gardening in the desert and herbs. The list goes on. Many of the blogs offer up little more than a gardener’s personal journal documenting that gardener’s trial and error with new varieties, weather and animal encroachments. These personal gardening journals are amongst the best reading garden blogs with comments from other gardeners encouraging each other to continue trying to grow that top sized tomatoes or prize pumpkins.
One of the more popular garden blogs is one called Garden Rant. Garden Rant is unusual in the fact is written by four authors. Most blogs are the personal creations of one individual. Garden Rant is also unusual in that the four contributors are admittedly not avid gardeners but writers who write about gardening. They do have gardens but they are by self proclamation writers first who started gardening as a hobby.
Their manifesto statement is to amongst other things, to cause a horticultural revolution while uprooting the garden industry, love bug ridden overgrown gardens all while being suspicious of the horticultural industry. Upon reading this feisty manifesto and opening statements my curiosity was piqued and I was ready to defend my industry. It has been a lonely fight most of the way. These ladies wanted to start a “revolution.”
So far I am about the only one regularly defending the garden business and “normal” gardeners from an onslaught of attacks on the way we garden and conduct business in the garden industry.
One of the icons of the American Dream, a green lawn, has come under a barrage of attacks from Garden Rant and others in the blogosphere. Lawns to these bloggers are unnecessary, time consuming, polluting, over fertilized, water hogging, and out dated.
The online groundswell against the American lawn has grown to the point of calling for the Great Lawn in Washington to be replaced with a vegetable garden!
The Great Lawn in Washington is a symbol of American independence. This lawn has enabled the greatest of American rights, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. The greatest protests in American history have taken place on this lawn. From the Million Man March, Viet Nam War protests, rallies to support troops and veterans have all taken place on this lawn. A smaller version of the Great Lawn sits in front of millions of American homes. These great lawns in miniature are the work and pride of homeowners who embody the same over riding principle behind the Great Lawn in Washington, freedom and pride of accomplishment.
Freedom of assembly is represented in home lawns by the gathering of families and friends for picnics on Memorial Day, Labor Day and the Fourth of July. Accomplishment is represented by home lawns in pride of ownership. A well kept lawn shows pride of the homeowner not only in his home but the neighborhood in which he lives.
Lawns are places where kids play, babies learn to crawl and great childhood memories made. Front lawns and back yard lawns are places for families to gather, play games or just look longingly into the sky. These time honored American traditions are hard to do from the middle of a vegetable garden!
This not to say that the anti lawn crowd do not have some good points. Large lawns that are heavily fertilized can add to fertilizer run off and excess use of water in arid climates.
Some neighborhoods do consider lawn mowers a noise pollution issue. In fact many homeowners associations place limits on when mowers can be run. And fertilizers do cost money and most are made from petro industry byproducts.
However the trend in the size of American lawns is shrinking. Homeowners with large expanses of manicured green lawns are reducing the size the area under intense care.
Time is an issue as well. Many do not want to spend the entire weekend mowing raking and fertilizing a big lawn.
Americans still do love lawns just smaller ones. So why is there all this banter about getting rid of lawns? Some in the anti lawn movement want lawns outlawed altogether.
It would be a strange scene indeed to see front lawns across the country replaced with vegetable and herb gardens. They would be nice to look at but still strange things to see next to the driveway.
I think this anti lawn groundswell is a product of mob mentality. When someone in a controlled atmosphere, such as a blog, a political speech at a convention get the crowd excited they follow the leader and climb aboard the band wagon. When people of like minds gather on a regular basis with no opposition it is easy for the leader to get all on their side.
If you love your lawn though, all is not lost. What has made the garden industry a unique business is that is an industry of small businesses. There are some giants in the industry but the traditional garden outlet is family run. The garden industry is still thankfully a wonderfully fragmented industry with thousands of small businesses. This is replicated in the gardening blogosphere as well. Top read blogs in electronics, autos and politics have tens of thousands of readers daily. Garden Rant one of the top read garden blogs has less than 1500 readers daily. While there is a movement to rid the American front yard of its green lawn it is a small movement that may be limited by the very thing that makes gardening such a wonderful industry. It is a small industry dominated another icon of the American experience, small business.