Experts say there are benefits to gardening during the COVID-19 crisis

Some popular plants to grow here in Nebraska right now are vegetables like tomatoes, peppers,...
Some popular plants to grow here in Nebraska right now are vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash. (SOURCE: KOLN)(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Apr. 14, 2020 at 7:31 AM CDT
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April is National Gardening Month, and with many people staying home during the COVID-19 crisis, experts say now is the perfect opportunity to get outside and start a garden.

While many businesses are struggling to stay open, it's the opposite for garden centers. Every year around this time, garden centers start to see a boom in business, but this year, specifically, Earl May Garden Center in Lincoln is helping twice as many first-time gardeners.

Planting experts tell 10/11 vegetable gardens are a big thing right now. They say many plants can be easily transferred from pots inside your house to patches of dirt in your yard.

Earl May even has cheat sheets available that guide you in planting the right plants at the right time.

One of the most simple and plentiful foods you can grow right now happens to be lettuce. "Everybody buys the bags of the baby greens at the grocery store, but you can grow that so easily at home. It doesn't take much room. It doesn't take much work. It's not much of a set up. You can do it inside in containers or [outside] in the ground," says retail manager at Earl May Garden Center Jessica Jasnoch.

Garden experts tell 10/11 if you begin planting a vegetable garden right now, you'll likely have produce throughout the summer going into the fall.

Professional gardeners say going outside, getting some vitamin D and using your hands can benefit your mental health. Not only that, but it can also make putting food on your table that much easier.

Some popular plants to grow here in Nebraska right now are vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash. These plants are easy starters for first-time gardeners and can provide your family with great nutrition when having access to fresh food isn't the easiest.

Planters say starting a garden can be a personal escape from reality or can help draw your family members closer together. "[It's] good bonding time. The things that you can learn from it [by] just slowing down, watching how nature grows and works and [learning] the responsibilities of being out there to tend to the garden," says Jasnoch.

After you pick vegetables, many can be placed in your freezer or canned. Garden experts tell 10/11 those are easy ways to store your vegetables and can make them last throughout winter and into next spring when you can start planting again.

Expert gardeners say doing an activity, like gardening, where you actually see your work paying off can help you mentally and physically, and they tell 10/11 getting started isn't as hard as you might think.

For both adults and kids, gardening can be a learning experience. Finding out how things in nature work and how to care for your new plants will keep you engaged.

According to the National Gardening Association, you can even burn between 200 and 300 calories while gardening. Not only may you see physical benefits from gardening, but it may help also help lift your spirits these days.

Jasnoch says, "One thing is the mental health of it [with] being outside [and] digging in the dirt. It's just a great feeling. Then, you can eat what you grow. It's just a great hobby."

Gardeners at Earl May tell 10/11 there are different household items you can use when you first start gardening. Until you've gotten all of the gardening tools you'll need, they say empty egg cartons and empty yogurt cups can serve as temporary pots for plants.

Experts say having patience should be the base for anyone starting their garden for the first time. They tell 10/11 in the beginning, gardening will be trial and error, and you just have to learn what works and what doesn't.

If you're gardening for the first time, they say be sure to keep a close eye on the weather forecasts every day. You'll need to know what to do in order to protect your plants and keep them alive as the weather changes.

With seeds for different vegetables in high-demand right now, many garden centers may be out of stock on certain vegetables for the rest of spring. Earl May says it's taking a bit longer to get seed shipments in, but so far, they're keeping plenty of options left in stock.

As of now, the Earl May Garden Center is still open and is helping customers, but they're answering more questions and can help get what you need in the store through email and by phone.

For more information about gardening, you can visit the Earl May Garden Center's website by clicking