Pandemic Gardening in Alberta is Real, Here’s How You Can Join in
Local garden centers in Edmonton have seen a spike in interest for indoor and outdoor gardening among consumers due to the pandemic. Ellerslie Gift and Garden center in Edmonton sees more customers this year, buying seed, planting vegetables, and flowers. Many customers are starting at the beginning this year. They only allow two people at a time in their greenhouse, and their interactions with customers have changed. They offer curbside pickup and delivery and practice social distancing.
The general manager Perry Stolhart says they spend more time on the phone with customers and on apps like Skype or Face-time. Greenhouses and garden centers are considered essential services in Alberta. He says they feel good about their role in helping people with gardening during these tough times, according to an interview he had with Global News.
In Calgary, more residents are planting vegetables than ever before. Plantation Garden Center has had one of its busiest seasons since 2002. The owner Colin Atters says that the renewed interest in gardening is due to the pandemic. Many people are going back to growing and gathering food. Colin says that he has run out of seeds because customers are buying large amounts.
Plantation Garden Center is an essential part of the food chain, and they take the pressure off of local supermarkets. Gardening relieves stress and helps customers get through the pandemic. Many customers are finding planting gardens to be very therapeutic during these tough times.
Seven schools in Calgary are participating in a program called Grow Alberta. It is a student-driven program that gives free seed kits to families and gets older kids to plant gardens. It is an effort to get families outside and learn about growing food. Adam Robb, a teacher, says that he has tried to get students interested in gardening, which is the first time the interest is there. He says students and families have contacted him about starting gardens at home.
Students are contacting garden centers to get seeds, writing grant proposals, and seeking donations and partnerships. The seven schools will distribute about 1,000 seed kits to families. The kits have six types of seeds, soil, and online instructions on how to grow the plants. This movement is focusing on finding ways to get families and students interested in growing gardens from seed. The Calgary Edmonton corridor is one of the most urbanized areas in Alberta.
Community gardens in Edmonton must follow some new guidelines due to the pandemic. They must rope off picnic areas and areas for sitting, sanitize common points, and not provide common tools. Only 15 people are allowed in the gardens at a time, and the community garden must schedule times for gardeners. Sheds will be locked, and gardeners must bring their own tools. Peace Garden has 85 plots and a waiting list of 200 residents. The city has produced signs for community gardens to post on the new guidelines.
Edmonton will be adding over 350 gardening plots to 30 temporary garden pop up sites to improve access to fresh locally grown food. There will be raised beds that will help produce vegetables on land owned by the city or community. These sites will have planters, soil, and twice-weekly watering. They are looking for community members to maintain and organize selected sites. Gardeners will have to supply their own seeds and gardening equipment.
More people than ever have turned to gardening due to the shutdown. A local Edmonton horticulturist Jim Hole encourages everyone to try planting a garden and not be afraid to try. He says that good gardeners fail at times, and it is how they learn. Jim says that Edmonton has its share of clay in the soil. It improves the soil when you add compost or decomposed manure. Put down one or the other and only a few inches each year.
This high demand for gardening has sparked a healthy outlook towards gardening at home. Seasoned gardeners are looking for ways to optimize the shape of their backyard to accommodate more vegetables while creating a more lively environment to spend time throughout the season. Residents would be surprised how much use they can get from even the smallest spaces in their backyard with simple design tricks making it possible to create a space they have always wanted.
Alberta’s climate is a great place to grow carrots, potatoes, peas, spinach, Swiss Chard, onions, beets, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli and do well when planted early.
Gardening reduces stress and provides exercise and provides rewarding experiences. Residents across Edmonton are actively designing their backyard layout to accommodate their gardening hobby, along with outdoor entertainment to create a multi-purpose space.
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