The U.S. has enjoyed a home-gardening renaissance in recent years, driven by concerns about health, nutrition and money — and a desire to get back to our roots. Whether you're starting a garden or just curious how yours compares, here's a behind-the-scenes look at gardening in America.
While corn is the top overall crop grown in the U.S. — with 84 million acres harvested in 2011 — home gardeners tend to grow a more biodiverse bounty. Tomatoes are the most popular produce cultivated in yards across the country, followed by cucumbers, sweet peppers, beans, carrots and summer squash.
Home gardeners are relatively evenly spread around the country, although the Southeast has a few more green thumbs than other regions. Most U.S. gardeners have at least some college education, and a slight majority are female. Regardless of their demographics, though, the country's home gardeners seem to be getting their money's worth: After collectively spending $2.5 billion on seeds, supplies and other upfront costs in 2008, American gardeners reaped a whopping $21 billion return on investment. For the average 600-square-foot garden, that comes out to a profit of about $530.
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