Brian Minter: COVID helping to connect us back to nature

Well, I’m quite sure most of the world’s population will be incredibly glad to see the end of 2020. The new year ahead, however, will still be challenging until all countries around the world can vaccinate the majority of their citizens.

As in most difficult situations, there are usually a few bright spots, and that is true today. Our deepening connection with nature and the environment is certainly one of them, as is the fact that gardening, both indoors and out, has truly gained momentum, particularly among our younger generations.

In one of the many green publications I read, I learned about a marketing firm that had been commissioned to survey the American gardening community for some insights into if and how they were planning to garden in 2021. Based in St. Paul, Minn., Axiom Marketing interviewed 1,200 homeowners to gather information about their gardening plans for the coming year.

Many respondents indicated that they would be gardening because it gave them something creative to do while stuck at home during the pandemic. They appreciated that it also provided them with a source of exercise and helped them cope with stress.

Over 80 per cent surveyed felt they had been very successful in their gardening activities this year. Nearly 86 per cent of homeowners, many of them new gardeners, planned to continue gardening and about half of them said they would be expanding their garden space.

Surprisingly, growing flowers, either annuals or perennials, was, by far, the most popular activity. Planting shrubs and trees was next, and growing vegetables rounded out the top-three garden priorities. About one-third of the folks interviewed ranked container gardening high on their list, and about half said indoor gardening was very important to them. When asked, “Why garden?” the most frequent responses were to add beauty to their lives or to beautify an outdoor space.

We, in Canada, are seeing the same trends. More people are beginning to realize the important connection between growing plants and better health. Starting plants from seed, nurturing seedlings, learning to deal with the challenges of weather and pests, and recognizing the need to provide good organic nutrition are all things that connect us to nature, which in turn leads to a more positive state of mental and physical health.

As we strive to eat a healthier diet, there has been a huge growth in windowsill gardening. Growing micro-greens and herb gardening are now significant year-round activities, resulting in these natural herbs and spices adding nutrition and unique flavours to our foods. Today, folks are growing a wide range of herbs from around the world, particularly those from Asia and South America. Herbs also add new fragrances to our containers and attract bees and other pollinators to our gardens.

Speaking of pollinators, we are also beginning to understand the importance of reconnecting with our best garden allies — birds and beneficial insects. A gentleman contacted me the other day, asking me to remind gardeners to do their pruning as early as possible because many birds begin nesting in mid-winter and late pruning can destroy their nests.

Being more thoughtful when adding new plants to your landscape can make a huge difference to pollinators, hummingbirds and other birds. Planning your garden to provide flowers from January through December is very important, as is providing more berried plants for fall and winter food sources. When controlling harmful pests, try to be as organic as possible, by using biological controls, but never applying them when plants have open flowers. Frogs and other amphibians are in danger, so incorporating a small, still pond into your garden will provide an invaluable habitat.

I’ve also noticed a number of other significant trends. More and more folks are beginning to realize that food growing is far more than just traditional vegetables. People are discovering that new fruits, from Asian persimmons, mulberries and goji berries to haskaps and cranberries, will grow well in our gardens. The demand for berried plants has been over the top. We are learning to become more self-sufficient by stretching the harvest season from haskaps in very early June to winter apples. Where space is limited, espaliered trees are being used to double as fences between properties, and tripods are being employed to train vines vertically, thus taking up far less room. Hanging baskets and containers are now being used to grow everbearing fruits, such as strawberries.

Most new gardeners are members of our younger generations. They are concerned for the environment and are learning how to reconnect with nature. They are also helping their children become more engaged with growing food and respecting wildlife and their habitats.

As we enter the new year, with its many challenges ahead, it’s nice to see people of all ages becoming more engaged in the natural world around us. By planting more trees, perennials, annuals and edible plants and by growing them organically, we are helping the environment and benefitting our own health. Let’s all do our best to be more aware and protective of the natural world, to grow a wider variety of health-sustaining foods, to beautify our surroundings, and to improve our well-being by engaging in activities, such as gardening, that strengthen and broaden our ties to nature.Well, I’m quite sure most of the world’s population will be incredibly glad to see the end of 2020. The new year ahead, however, will still be challenging until all countries around the world can vaccinate the majority of their citizens.

As in most difficult situations, there are usually a few bright spots, and that is true today. Our deepening connection with nature and the environment is certainly one of them, as is the fact that gardening, both indoors and out, has truly gained momentum, particularly among our younger generations.

In one of the many green publications I read, I learned about a marketing firm that had been commissioned to survey the American gardening community for some insights into if and how they were planning to garden in 2021. Based in St. Paul, Minn., Axiom Marketing interviewed 1,200 homeowners to gather information about their gardening plans for the coming year.

Many respondents indicated that they would be gardening because it gave them something creative to do while stuck at home during the pandemic. They appreciated that it also provided them with a source of exercise and helped them cope with stress.

Over 80 per cent surveyed felt they had been very successful in their gardening activities this year. Nearly 86 per cent of homeowners, many of them new gardeners, planned to continue gardening and about half of them said they would be expanding their garden space.

Surprisingly, growing flowers, either annuals or perennials, was, by far, the most popular activity. Planting shrubs and trees was next, and growing vegetables rounded out the top-three garden priorities. About one-third of the folks interviewed ranked container gardening high on their list, and about half said indoor gardening was very important to them. When asked, “Why garden?” the most frequent responses were to add beauty to their lives or to beautify an outdoor space.

We, in Canada, are seeing the same trends. More people are beginning to realize the important connection between growing plants and better health. Starting plants from seed, nurturing seedlings, learning to deal with the challenges of weather and pests, and recognizing the need to provide good organic nutrition are all things that connect us to nature, which in turn leads to a more positive state of mental and physical health.

As we strive to eat a healthier diet, there has been a huge growth in windowsill gardening. Growing micro-greens and herb gardening are now significant year-round activities, resulting in these natural herbs and spices adding nutrition and unique flavours to our foods. Today, folks are growing a wide range of herbs from around the world, particularly those from Asia and South America. Herbs also add new fragrances to our containers and attract bees and other pollinators to our gardens.

Speaking of pollinators, we are also beginning to understand the importance of reconnecting with our best garden allies — birds and beneficial insects. A gentleman contacted me the other day, asking me to remind gardeners to do their pruning as early as possible because many birds begin nesting in mid-winter and late pruning can destroy their nests.

Being more thoughtful when adding new plants to your landscape can make a huge difference to pollinators, hummingbirds and other birds. Planning your garden to provide flowers from January through December is very important, as is providing more berried plants for fall and winter food sources. When controlling harmful pests, try to be as organic as possible, by using biological controls, but never applying them when plants have open flowers. Frogs and other amphibians are in danger, so incorporating a small, still pond into your garden will provide an invaluable habitat.

I’ve also noticed a number of other significant trends. More and more folks are beginning to realize that food growing is far more than just traditional vegetables. People are discovering that new fruits, from Asian persimmons, mulberries and goji berries to haskaps and cranberries, will grow well in our gardens. The demand for berried plants has been over the top. We are learning to become more self-sufficient by stretching the harvest season from haskaps in very early June to winter apples. Where space is limited, espaliered trees are being used to double as fences between properties, and tripods are being employed to train vines vertically, thus taking up far less room. Hanging baskets and containers are now being used to grow everbearing fruits, such as strawberries.

Most new gardeners are members of our younger generations. They are concerned for the environment and are learning how to reconnect with nature. They are also helping their children become more engaged with growing food and respecting wildlife and their habitats.

As we enter the new year, with its many challenges ahead, it’s nice to see people of all ages becoming more engaged in the natural world around us. By planting more trees, perennials, annuals and edible plants and by growing them organically, we are helping the environment and benefitting our own health. Let’s all do our best to be more aware and protective of the natural world, to grow a wider variety of health-sustaining foods, to beautify our surroundings, and to improve our well-being by engaging in activities, such as gardening, that strengthen and broaden our ties to nature.

By planting more trees, perennials, annuals and edible plants and by growing them organically, we are helping the environment and benefitting our own health.

Well, I’m quite sure most of the world’s population will be incredibly glad to see the end of 2020. The new year ahead, however, will still be challenging until all countries around the world can vaccinate the majority of their citizens.

As in most difficult situations, there are usually a few bright spots, and that is true today. Our deepening connection with nature and the environment is certainly one of them, as is the fact that gardening, both indoors and out, has truly gained momentum, particularly among our younger generations.

In one of the many green publications I read, I learned about a marketing firm that had been commissioned to survey the American gardening community for some insights into if and how they were planning to garden in 2021. Based in St. Paul, Minn., Axiom Marketing interviewed 1,200 homeowners to gather information about their gardening plans for the coming year.

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Many respondents indicated that they would be gardening because it gave them something creative to do while stuck at home during the pandemic. They appreciated that it also provided them with a source of exercise and helped them cope with stress.

Over 80 per cent surveyed felt they had been very successful in their gardening activities this year. Nearly 86 per cent of homeowners, many of them new gardeners, planned to continue gardening and about half of them said they would be expanding their garden space.

Surprisingly, growing flowers, either annuals or perennials, was, by far, the most popular activity. Planting shrubs and trees was next, and growing vegetables rounded out the top-three garden priorities. About one-third of the folks interviewed ranked container gardening high on their list, and about half said indoor gardening was very important to them. When asked, “Why garden?” the most frequent responses were to add beauty to their lives or to beautify an outdoor space.

We, in Canada, are seeing the same trends. More people are beginning to realize the important connection between growing plants and better health. Starting plants from seed, nurturing seedlings, learning to deal with the challenges of weather and pests, and recognizing the need to provide good organic nutrition are all things that connect us to nature, which in turn leads to a more positive state of mental and physical health.

As we strive to eat a healthier diet, there has been a huge growth in windowsill gardening. Growing micro-greens and herb gardening are now significant year-round activities, resulting in these natural herbs and spices adding nutrition and unique flavours to our foods. Today, folks are growing a wide range of herbs from around the world, particularly those from Asia and South America. Herbs also add new fragrances to our containers and attract bees and other pollinators to our gardens.

Story continues below

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Speaking of pollinators, we are also beginning to understand the importance of reconnecting with our best garden allies — birds and beneficial insects. A gentleman contacted me the other day, asking me to remind gardeners to do their pruning as early as possible because many birds begin nesting in mid-winter and late pruning can destroy their nests.

Being more thoughtful when adding new plants to your landscape can make a huge difference to pollinators, hummingbirds and other birds. Planning your garden to provide flowers from January through December is very important, as is providing more berried plants for fall and winter food sources. When controlling harmful pests, try to be as organic as possible, by using biological controls, but never applying them when plants have open flowers. Frogs and other amphibians are in danger, so incorporating a small, still pond into your garden will provide an invaluable habitat.

I’ve also noticed a number of other significant trends. More and more folks are beginning to realize that food growing is far more than just traditional vegetables. People are discovering that new fruits, from Asian persimmons, mulberries and goji berries to haskaps and cranberries, will grow well in our gardens. The demand for berried plants has been over the top. We are learning to become more self-sufficient by stretching the harvest season from haskaps in very early June to winter apples. Where space is limited, espaliered trees are being used to double as fences between properties, and tripods are being employed to train vines vertically, thus taking up far less room. Hanging baskets and containers are now being used to grow everbearing fruits, such as strawberries.

Story continues below

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Most new gardeners are members of our younger generations. They are concerned for the environment and are learning how to reconnect with nature. They are also helping their children become more engaged with growing food and respecting wildlife and their habitats.

As we enter the new year, with its many challenges ahead, it’s nice to see people of all ages becoming more engaged in the natural world around us. By planting more trees, perennials, annuals and edible plants and by growing them organically, we are helping the environment and benefitting our own health. Let’s all do our best to be more aware and protective of the natural world, to grow a wider variety of health-sustaining foods, to beautify our surroundings, and to improve our well-being by engaging in activities, such as gardening, that strengthen and broaden our ties to nature.

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