Mommy Minute: Gardening popularity soars amid pandemic; local expert says the hobby greatly benefits kids

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When the pandemic forced everyone to stay at home, many families turned to home gardening for the very first time.

“That was one positive thing, that people were suddently trapped at home looking around and going ‘what am I going to do? I’m going to garden,” said Kathy Quarles of Stauffer’s of Kissel Hill. “And it was great!”

Quarles saw a 50% increase in new gardeners in her stores and says that momentum has stayed very strong in 2021.

“Gardening is such a pleasure,” she said. “It’s a life-long hobby for people, so it’s very exciting.”

Even people with smaller yards are succeeding.

“They don’t have to have a plot of ground,” she Quarles said. “They don’t have to have an acre farm. They just need some big containers and a sunny spot. You can grow just about anything.”

According to Quarles, involving your kids with the process will teach them life-long lessons.

“It’s something they will have all of their lives,” she said. “It teaches many things you don’t think about like nurturing. You can’t ignore a newly-seeded garden. You have to water it, tend it carefully every day.”

Gardening will also get your kids off their devices. It will give them a goal and a delicious reward they can not only see and feel, but enjoy.

“And when they pick that first tomato, that first green bean, the excitement is incredible,” she said smiling. “My grandkids are gardeners and they just love it. They can’t wait to plant it. They can’t wait to pick it and they especially can’t wait to eat it.”

Quarles said tomatoes are always the most popular produce to grow, followed by peppers and cucumbers. Her best advice for new gardeners is to keep it simple their first year. She says you should pick one or two vegetables for your first season so you don’t become overwhelmed or frustrated.

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