More than 20 million novice growers picked up shovels and trowels in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we as a nation went from 42 million gardeners to 63 million in the past year, according to a recent report by Better Homes and Gardens.
One of the top reasons millions of newbies hit the dirt in 2020 was to grow their own food. Planting the “victory gardens” or “quarantine gardens” they started because of the pandemic, gardeners savor the taste of homegrown veggies and fruit. Oftentimes, they grow enough to share with family, friends, and neighbors.
“COVID scared a lot of people with the thought of food shortages so we saw a lot of new gardeners,” said Tom Cummins, owner of the Apple House in Terre Haute. “People became more grounded to home, which resulted in our vegetable plant sales [increasing] 102% last year from the year before. And I expect to see the same trend continue this year.”
Spending more time at home, and spending more of that time cooking, has led to a renewed interest in food gardening. And for parents who have kids learning from home, growing veggies, fruits and herbs covers lunchtime, physical education, and science class.
“Take a hands-on approach with kids. Let them know that they don’t need to have a quarter acre of land to garden so that they can become confident with their beginner garden,” Cummins said. “Help your children plant some seeds that they select, then encourage them to water those seeds and watch them grow, telling them that soon they’ll have a beautiful flower or the tastiest tomato they’ve ever eaten.”
In 2020, gardeners experienced deficits in seed and plant supplies. Favorite varieties were sold out and garden center racks were riddled with empty slots. But Cummins said he’s confident that the Apple House will have plenty of inventory throughout the vast majority of this growing season because most of his growers have bumped up their crops considerably to keep up with the unprecedented demand.
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