Plenty of Red Deerians will be bragging about their home-grown vegetables this fall, judging by the interest in gardening as the pandemic takes hold.
Jenny Nelson, owner of Ever-Green Greenhouses Ltd., said the recession had already turned more people into gardeners.
“People are staying home more. They aren’t travelling as much. People take pride in their homes, in their yards. Even when times are tough, people take pride in what they have,” Nelson said.
COVID-19 is likely to do the same thing as people gaze out their windows while they hunker down at home, concerned about virus transmission and the food supply.
Gloria Beck, owner of Parkland Nurseries and Garden Centre, said people can grow a variety of vegetables, such as lettuce, radishes, potatoes, tomatoes and peas in containers on balconies and in small yards.
She agreed there’s been a real surge in people starting to grow their own vegetables.
“It’s all about food. They’re excited about gardening,” Beck said.
She said some people will do research at home, plan their gardens as a family, and come in with lists.
“If you’re new to it, tell us, and we’ll start you off with some of the easier seeds and we’ll help guide you through it.”
Beck said gardening is good for both physical and mental well-being.
“After the wars, it was gardening that offered peace and tranquility to people. Whenever you go back in history, gardening is therapy.”
Staff at Parkland can have orders ready for pickup or delivery, and enhanced cleaning protocols, sanitizing stations, social distancing and sneeze guards are in place.
Ever-Green Greenhouses opens to customers in mid-April, but Nelson said she is still looking into the necessary precautions required to keep customers safe during the pandemic.
Staff already use masks and gloves, because soil has live bacteria. The local greenhouse has also partnered with a local flower shop to make home deliveries.
Work started in Ever-Green’s greenhouses in January and they are now full of thriving plants.
Nelson said dealing with live products during the pandemic has been very concerning as spring approached.
“I feel bad for all businesses, but it’s not like we have a product that we can save until September, when things are back to normal. Greenhouses make their entire income in two months.”
Nelson said people new to gardening should not be worried about the current weather.
“By mid-April, it usually starts to pick up everywhere. Even if there’s a little bit of snow at the end of April, early May, it doesn’t really affect much.”
And gardening isn’t as difficult as people may think, she said.
“It’s hard to kill anything in the garden. All they need is water and sunlight, unless you’re doing things that are complicated, which most people don’t want anyway.”
“Gardening is easy, and there’s always Google,” Nelson said with a smile.
Nelson said gardening is also a way to keep busy at home, and isolated seniors may especially appreciate the gift of a plant they can grow on their balcony.