2020 could be the year of the garden
By Michelle Thompson
I laughed when I saw the meme of the before and after self-quarantine garden. The before picture showed an overgrown, wild landscape needing a lot of work. The after picture featured maintained garden plots in rows with new borders, colorful flowers, an abundance of edibles and a nice bench for pondering in the garden.
I wondered if we were indeed in the forefront of a gardening movement. With additional time at home or perhaps concerns with fresh food availability were more people starting gardens?
No doubt, home garden seed companies nationwide are reporting unprecedented seed sales. One of my favorite seed providers, Renee’s Garden of Felton, California, declared seed orders topped 2,000 during a time when 300 orders were typical. Burpee Seed Company has sold more seed than any time in its 144-year history. Others quote “online seed sales have tripled” and “vegetable sales are through the roof”. Greenhouse growers, nurseries and retailers posted record setting March sales.
Inexperienced gardeners are navigating online resources for help. Gardeners who have ‘been there, done that’ are happy to share their knowledge and expertise. Online gardening groups are growing in leaps and bounds. I recently joined the South Texas Gardener Facebook group along with 90 other followers the same week. The administrator revealed there were over 10,000 posts that week.
One Facebook follower summed up her experience “I have begged friends and neighbors for years to join me in gardening. Nada. Until this year. Now everyone is asking for advice and I’m giving away seedlings like crazy.”
Local online gardening groups will have information geared toward zone 9 or south east Texas growing conditions and pest problems. Nationwide groups are useful resources for more general gardening topics, such as starting seeds or photos of landscape ideas. You will have to sort through a plethora of information for problems and solutions specific to our area.
Other online gardening resources include YouTube channels (Garden Answer is one of my favorites), blogs, podcasts and online gardening magazines.
There are many motivating reasons to start a garden or continue as a hobbyist. Probably at the top of the list, is the ability to grow healthy organic food. Nothing matches the convenience of a short walk to the garden with the self-sufficiency to feed our own family.
Gardening can be a fun outdoor family activity which encourages kids to learn about plants and teaches a useful life long skill.
Getting out in the sun increases our vitamin D levels, so important for immunity and calcium and phosphorus absorption. Kids and adults benefit by knowing where their food comes from. Gardening and being around plants have physical and psychological benefits. Share your abundant harvest with neighbors or those in need.
One last benefit, at the end of the day, we will all have a new respect for farmers and their expertise.
Michelle Thompson is a Galveston County Master Gardener and is a member of Heritage Gardeners of Friendswood. She served as President 2018-2020.