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As food prices shoot up, so do backyard gardens

Gasoline and food price spikes have had what could be called a 'Miracle-Gro' effect on the backyard garden movement.

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Digging in: Marcie Curry tosses weeds to prepare a plot at a community garden in Boston. She and a friend have been planting vegetables here the past three years for family and friends, and she likes to see the ‘fruits of her labor.’

Mark Thomson

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Think of it as a modern-day Victory Garden.

With gasoline prices soaring and food costs not far behind, the number of Americans planning to grow their own backyard vegetables this year is up sharply.

Gardening organizations, seed wholesalers, and local nurseries are all reporting hikes in the number of people buying vegetable seeds and starter plants.

It's a trend that started slowly several years ago, spurred by concerns about food safety, food quality, and global warming, say garden mavens. But this year's gasoline and food price spikes have had what could be called a "Miracle-Gro" effect on the backyard garden movement. This year, 39 percent of people with backyards told the Garden Writers Association they planned to grow vegetables this year. That's up 5 percent from last year, after remaining relatively stable with only small increases for much of the past decade.

"This is evolving into a perfect storm for vegetable gardening," says Charlie Nardozzi, senior horticulturist at the National Gardening Association in Burlington, Vt. "A lot of the economic things happening, and concerns are rising about global warming and carbon footprints, and so are worries about the quality of food, its price, and freshness – it's all come to a head."

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