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Growing Together: 2019 gardening predictions hold plenty of surprises

Gardening in 2019 is predicted to be an important incentive for adults to spend less time in front of televisions and computer screens. Forum file photo1 / 4
Don Kinzler, Growing Together and Fielding Questions columnist. The Forum2 / 4
The increasing popularity of houseplants is predicted to continue in 2019, as indoor gardening is an activity nearly everyone can do. Forum file photo3 / 4
The Tertill robotic weeder is already being marketed to help with weeding tasks in the garden. Tertill / Special to The Forum4 / 4

FARGO -- I’ve got to see it to believe it: A robot is being developed that will weed our gardens.

Like a Roomba for the outdoors, the Tertill is a solar-powered robot that whacks weeds for up to three hours per battery charge. That’s fine, but my only question is whether the robot knows not to whack away at the Soft Whisper rosebush for which I shelled out $49.95 plus tax.

Weed-whacking robots are only one of the gardening predictions for 2019 by the Garden Media Group in their annual Garden Trends Report. Each year, the group analyzes trends and predicts hot topics, major goals and concerns for the upcoming year in the world of gardening.

According to their report, the gardening future looks bright, as Americans spent a record $503 per household in 2018, up $100 from the previous year. People are realizing a changing climate is presenting global challenges, and gardening is a natural fit to give Mother Nature a helping hand while improving our own health.

Indoor generation

  • Americans spend 93 percent of their time indoors or in vehicles, which can cause a disconnect from the earth and its natural growth rhythms. Yet people seem to have a natural attraction for the land, plants and nature.
  • Considered old-fashioned for a few decades, houseplant popularity is now exploding, as indoor gardening is something everyone can do.

Screen age

  • Adults spend an average of 11 hours per day looking at the screens of television, social media, internet and video games, which can cause physical and psychological problems, while time to enjoy nature is diminished.
  • Gardening can be a screen-time antidote by encouraging healthy choices while teaching patience, trust, confidence, nurturing and care for the land.

New breed of environmentalist

  • There’s an increasing trend of young and old uniting together for the common good, and volunteerism is on the upswing. A great example is the rapid rise in the participation in community gardening.

Making use of plants from roots to stems

  • One-third of all food is wasted globally.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency says food is the largest waste in landfills, more than diapers, Styrofoam and tires combined.
  • There’s an increasing emphasis on reducing food waste while composting the unusable for soil improvement, instead of just sending it to landfills.

Disappearing insects

  • The decline of flying insects is causing a new biological emergency. Many of us have noticed that our windshields aren’t as bug-spattered as they once were.
  • A German study shows that in the past 30 years, the percentage of flying insects has decreased 75 percent.
  • Invasive, harmful insects have bucked the trend and are quickly increasing and spreading, due to the lack of natural predators.

Robo gardening

  • Gardening technology and apps will be used increasingly to monitor and control growing conditions such as soil health, moisture needs and weeds.
  • Mini bee-like drones are being tested for pollination, which has been 37 percent successful in flowers, as a possible response to the decline of bees.

Gardening by moon phase

  • This is an age-old theory being revisited that the moon’s gravitational pull affects plants the same way it affects the ocean’s tides.
  • To garden by moon phase, plant annuals and vegetables that bear crops above ground during the “light of the moon,” the period from the new moon until the full moon.
  • Plant perennials, bulbs and vegetables that bear crops below ground during the “dark of the moon,” the period from the full moon until the new moon.

Buy a calendar

Looking for a new wall calendar? Consider the 2019 Growing Together Gardening Calendar, which is graced with local gardening photos by Forum photographers and filled with nearly every "when-to" needed by gardeners tailored specifically for our Upper Midwest gardening region of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Montana. Order calendars online at https://www.inforum.com/2019gardencalendar.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, worked as an NDSU Extension horticulturist and owned Kinzler’s Greenhouse in Fargo. Readers can reach him at forumgrowingtogether@hotmail.com.