Nearly a year after a pandemic has been declared, people from all over the world have developed different habits and strategies to cope with being stuck inside their homes. As restaurants closed their doors to diners, some turned to home cooking and baking, perfecting loaves of sourdough bread and trying out different recipes from foreign cuisines. Others tried knitting, crocheting, and embroidery to prevent their hands from doom scrolling on Facebook and Twitter.
Many people found peace in nature. During lockdowns, there was an increased interest in lawn and landscape maintenance. The demand for plants, seeds, and gardening supplies was high across the world as people turned their homes and yards into urban oases.
For Food Security
However, gardening during the pandemic is more than just a hobby for some. The restrictions placed by governments to slow the spread of the virus last year led to millions of Americans losing their jobs. While financial aid was handed to those who needed it, sometimes, it was not enough to pay off bills and other necessities.
A disruption in the food supply chain, which was negatively impacted by the pandemic like most industries, meant that there are fewer products available on grocery shelves. While demand remained high, supply was limited and depleting. The pandemic created another problem: high food prices all over the world.
For the first time in a long time, many households had to deal with food insecurity. One poll found that about half of the around 2,000 American adults struggled to afford food while an alarming 37% admitted that they had to skip meals to make sure that their children have enough to eat. Around 67% said that they did not realize that they were experiencing food insecurity.
Gardening, therefore, was a lifeline. Households attempted to save money and provide healthy food for their families by filling their backyards with fruits and vegetables.
A Reason to Get Out of the House
Being cooped up indoors for days feels exhausting. For some, gardening is an excuse to spend time outdoors and breathe in the fresh air.
Although in most places, stepping out of the door is permitted for exercise, most of the time, they still have to wear a mask. Within their backyard, however, there is no chance that they will encounter another person outside of their household. They, therefore, can enjoy a bit of time outdoors without a mask.
Gardening also counts as physical activity for those who do not want to run, ride a bicycle, or create their own indoor gyms as fitness centers close down due to the pandemic.
Medicine for Mental Health
The pandemic has been tough mentally and emotionally. Studies have found that stress, anxiety, and depression are at an all-time high. There is an increasing number of suicides, another unintended consequence of the pandemic because people cannot meet with their therapist, they cannot spend time with their loved ones, or they fear that they or a person they care about would be infected.
Gardening has always been heralded as a calming hobby. It relaxes the mind, emptying the head of intrusive negative thoughts and replacing it with peaceful sceneries. The tasks of a gardener are challenging enough to completely occupy one’s consciousness. The benefits of gardening are similar to meditation in that way.
Moreover, there have been numerous studies that prove that being around nature is good for a person’s overall mental and emotional well-being. Sitting in a garden can lower levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for the body’s fight or flight response, and gets released during a stressful situation.
Previous research also found that gardening helps reduce anxiety. It has therapeutic effects that calm the body and mind. That is why an increasing number of therapists are recommending gardening as a non-medical treatment for mental health conditions.
Moreover, the activity exposes a patient to sunlight, a necessary factor for the body to create vitamin D. Vitamin D, which you can only get from a handful of foods, plays an important role in regulating mood. A lack of the nutrient is associated with depression.
Now is the perfect time to start gardening. Tending to plants is a far more productive activity compared to browsing social media or sitting in front of the television all day, watching Netflix. And, with offices and schools closed, there is nowhere else to go. You need to stay home for your health and for the sake of others around you.
For those who are just starting out, experts recommend easy-to-grow produce such as tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, potatoes, radishes, and beets. These vegetables are low maintenance, and they would thrive in any condition.