The human needs driving the rise in gardening, and how to start one

Customers shop at Fort Collins Nursery in Fort Collins, Colo., on April 30, 2020. Local garden centers and Colorado master gardeners say they've seen a huge surge of interest in growing food crops in home gardens since the coronavirus pandemic upended daily life almost two months ago, leaving nearly 300,000 Coloradans unemployed and most of its residents at home under strict social distancing guidelines.

(CNN)Local plant nurseries are seeing spikes in seed sales.

People are starting vegetable gardens big and small, including a plethora of backyard plots and windowsill herbs.
Some plant lovers are engaged in community gardens where they work in timed shifts, maintaining proper distance while wearing masks and cleansing tools for the next use.
    As people sheltering in place take up hobbies and start projects to fill the time during the coronavirus pandemic, gardening is blooming.
      Caring for a garden can be a respite from the horrors of the pandemic, as it serves several natural desires related to accomplishment, community and belonging and staying connected with nature.
      It can get partners and the whole family outside, happily bonding while doing an activity together.
      It can also help to alleviate food insecurity as some incomes dwindle and concerns about the food supply grow.
        "There's just a greater cohesiveness within the family unit that occurs outside with your hands in the dirt," said Charlie Hall, professor and Ellison Chair of the department of horticultural sciences at Texas A&M University.
        "There's not as much eye-rolling when teenagers are told to do something, not as much fighting between siblings. There's fewer harsh words between spouses."

        Fulfilling human needs

        Getting your hands in the dirt keeps you connected to nature while we're staying indoors more these days. The orderliness gardening requires, with its rules and rows, can carry over into the manageability of other life tasks, Hall said. And the calmness of the activity may relieve some pent-up frustrations.
        "Your cortisol levels go down dramatically when you're in the midst of gardening," Hall said. "And cortisol is the stress hormone in your body, so you're less stressed."
        There's a risk-reward ratio inherent in gardening. You have to learn to balance weather that may thwart your efforts. But that experience bears sweet tomatoes or refreshing cucumbers -- offering a tangible sense of accomplishment when we're floundering around, looking for something to focus our minds.
        "You're able to see the fruit of that effort," Hall said. "That's a teachable moment in people's lives."
        And gardening may have a fitting philosophical lesson for us during this time.
        "Sometimes pruning occurs," Hall said. "That's where the [correction in times of stress comes from]. You prune a plant so that it's even healthier when it comes out from its pruning."
        As plants need water, fertilizer and sunlight to grow, we're nurtured by challenge and engagement with things we enjoy, Hall added. And when plants grow so well they outgrow the space in which they're needed, gardeners must replant them in a different space where they have the room to thrive.
        "People move up into bigger areas of responsibilit