The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

Signs of a Serious Gardner

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
State Master Gardener Coordinator

According to a 1995 survey conducted by National Family Opinion Research, gardening is America's favorite outdoor leisure activity with two out of every five adults gardening or 42 percent of the total adult population. The survey showed a 30 percent increase in the three years since a 1992 study.

During the growing season gardeners spend an average of three hours a week on flower and ornamental gardening and an average of four hours a week on vegetable gardening. However, gardeners range from the dedicated to the dabbler.

A couple of years ago I started a list of the signs of the dedicated, serious gardener. Through numerous observations and suggestions from other gardeners, here is the continuing list.

You know you are a serious gardener when:

  • You can remember the date to plant the potatoes better than you can remember your own birthday.
  • You suffer from zone envy. No matter what winter hardiness zone you live in, you wished you could grow plants in the next warmest zone.
  • You're running out of places to garden, but under your fingernails looks promising.
  • You don't hesitate to book an extra moving van just to move your plants.
  • You would rather share your toothbrush than your hand pruners.
  • You carry more photos of your garden in your wallet than photos of the kids.
  • In the middle of winter, you start cultivating the mold in the refrigerator just to see something grow.
  • On vacation your car automatically turns into every garden center and botanic garden along the way.
  • You know far too much about manure and you insist on sharing that information with your friends during dinner parties.
  • You never have dinner before sunset during the summer.
  • You delight in the harvest of the first carrot. The $25 and 20 hours of work to produce it seems irrelevant.
  • Your neighbors don't recognize your face because that's usually not the end they see.
  • You hesitate when your spouse says there's not enough room in the house for both her/him and the house plants.
  • Your house guests are afraid to stay in the guest bedroom because the philodendron looks hungry.
  • In your will it states your final resting place will be a companion planting with your spouse in the garden.
  • You insist on saving all 225 tomato seedlings even though you only need 6.
  • Your hands have furrows deep enough to plant bean seeds.
  • You have to kill a favorite kind of plant at least three times before you decide maybe you should quit trying.
  • You know exactly how to run the leaf shredder, but you haven't quite figured out how to get the VCR clock to quit flashing.
  • Your idea of winter fun is sticking your hand in the compost pile to feel if it's hot.
  • While you are waiting in the doctor's office, you find yourself removing dead leaves from the houseplants.
  • Your criteria for a good doctor includes the appearance of the waiting room plants.
  • Your children have names like Hyacinth, Iris, Flora Bunda, Lon Moore, and Phil O'Dendron.

If any of the above signs apply to you or if the idea that they might apply to you someday doesn't cause you to run screaming into traffic, the Master Gardener program may be for you. All you need is an interest in gardening, an open mind and a desire to share your knowledge with others in the community.

Sign up now for the Master Gardener program. Training starts in January in Champaign, Vermilion, Piatt, Macon, Ford/Iroquois and Moultrie\Douglas County Extension Units. For more information about the Champaign program, contact:

University of Illinois Extension–Champaign County
801 North Country Fair Drive, Suite D
Champaign, IL 61821
(217) 333-7672

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