The pandemic produced gardening pandemonium, so we know at least one good thing grew out of the COVID-19 spring lockdowns.

Anecdotally, local people’s reasons for digging deep — many for the first time — varied. Some people said they needed a productive activity to fill their time since they couldn’t leave homes. Why not try gardening? Poke a few seeds into the ground, water them and pray for good weather.

(A few seeds turned into millions, by the way. Burpee Seeds, which was founded in 1876, reported selling more this spring than in any other spring in its history.)

Some said they worried about a potential food shortage, so they planted vegetables. They hoped for fresh produce this summer and fall, with enough to try canning for winter.

(You can’t find a Mason jar canning lid anywhere now. Expected delivery date … November.)

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A few people indicated that gardening gave them a sense of cooperating with Mother Nature — in sharp contrast to the fears that climate change and the coronavirus generated.

(Provided you went easy on the fertilizer or even chose organic, summer gardening was good for the environment. Add that to the overall drop in daily global emissions of 17% and 1 billion fewer tons of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, as reported last month by Environment America.)

Growing flowers, other people said, provided creative expression that they could share with neighbors.

(You might not be able to enter your neighbor’s house, but you can admire the flowers growing near the front door or cut a few flowers from your yard, shove them in that Mason jar you won’t be using and leave a bouquet at someone’s doorstep.)

Regardless of the motivation, novice gardeners found themselves learning by trial and error, and many discovered an invaluable resource at their fingertips: Master Gardeners.

These volunteers trained through the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin Extension services help people in their communities better understand horticulture, gardening and the environment. Year after year, they learn more and they give back by sharing that knowledge free of charge. The list includes basic botany, soil science, plant diseases, insects, trees and shrubs, lawn care, flowers and houseplants, wildlife, native plants, composting, fruits and vegetables.

If gardening has become a new passion or an old one that has found new life in the pandemic, consider signing up for Master Gardener training now so you’re ready for spring planting and ready to help. You will join a terrific group of people .

Registration deadline in Pierce and St. Croix counties is Sept. 25, 2020. Email or call the Pierce County Extension office at 715-273-6781.

In Goodhue County, apply online or print an application at, email or send a postal letter to Goodhue County Master Gardeners, 509 W. Fifth St. Unit 102, Red Wing, MN 55066 by Oct. 1.

Dig in!