Gardening Offers Opportunities for Everyone

Series of 'quickinars' to showcase basic lessons related to home food production, starting with video on garden preparation

April 24, 2020, 8:47 am | Ruth Litchfield, Sarah Francis, Cynthia Haynes

AMES, Iowa – The COVID-19 pandemic has meant many changes and questions for everyone. More food preparation and mealtime at home, wading through the information of how to safely shop for groceries, and using the home as a classroom are all part of the mix.

On the positive side, the pandemic has renewed interest in gardening and food preservation. Gardening can improve food security, decrease the number of trips to the grocery store and provide a source of fresh, quality produce.

hand in soil.To help provide information to gardeners of all ages and skill levels, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will be hosting weekly Sow, Grow, Eat and Keep "quickinars." These quickinars will be 5-15 minute online lessons of seasonally appropriate topics for the garden, food preparation and food preservation.

“The quickinars will provide timely information. There is no time like the present, when social and travel is restricted, to grow your own food,” said Cynthia Haynes, associate professor and extension specialist in horticulture at Iowa State.  “The pandemic has provided us with time. Use that time to reconnect with nature.”

Some of the upcoming topics include:

  • Garden preparation
  • Container gardening
  • Cool weather crops (lettuce, spinach, peas)
  • Freezer jams (rhubarb/strawberry)
  • Scouting for garden pests
  • Tilling and watering basics
  • Produce food safety

Gardening can provide a learning opportunity for children. Planning and planting a garden uses basic math and measurement skills as well as provides the opportunity to augment biology and science lessons.

Gardening also increases Vitamin D production due to the extra exposure to sunlight, decreases risk of dementia, reduces stress and increases physical activity. In addition, gardening is a great form of aerobic exercise. Pulling weeds, reaching for tools, twisting and bending will help with strength, stamina and flexibility.

Gardening is not limited to those with a yard. Whether you live in the city or the country, there are options available.

Container gardens provide those with only an eight-foot balcony the ability to grow their own produce. Almost any type of container can be used as long as it has drainage holes in the bottom and is placed where it can get six hours of direct sunlight each day.

For additional resources visit

Send your food or garden questions to

View the "Start with Soil - Sow, Grow, Eat, Keep" quickinar.


Original photo: Hand in soil.

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