The LSU AgCenter wants to know how your gardening life has changed during the coronavirus pandemic.
The online survey, which takes about 10 minutes, is open to anyone 18 or older at bit.ly/lsugarcensurvey.
“It’s a consumer survey,” said Heather Kirk-Ballard, assistant professor of consumer horticulture. “That could be gardening at home with fruits, vegetables or flowers, in containers or indoor plants. Almost everyone’s a gardener.”
Summer is the best time to just kick back and enjoy your garden.
During the pandemic and its stay-at-home orders, the number of first-time gardeners has shot up across the state as well as on a national level, she said.
This spring, Kirk-Ballard conducted a survey of independent retail garden centers, mass merchandiser garden centers and feed and farm supply stores in Louisiana, who reported a 30% increase in sales over the same time last year.
Retail garden stores and local co-ops reported that vegetable crops, seeds, garden soils, mulch, fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides and related supplies were flying off shelves, she said.
LSU AgCenter extension agents also reported a huge increase in the number of gardening questions, Kirk-Ballard said. “Phone call, emails and text volumes have increased statewide, and the demand for AgCenter expertise has been growing exponentially,” she said.
In early May, Kirk-Ballard contacted AgCenter agents across the state and asked them to keep a record of the number and types of calls they were getting pertaining to gardening and plants.
“Most every parish agreed that the volume of gardening calls had gone up with an increase in new gardeners,” she said.
From the air we breathe to the food we eat to the medicines we use and the beauty we seek, plants are essential to life.
Through the survey, Kirk-Ballard hopes to discover how many people are gardening for the first time and how many others have increased their gardening activities. She also is asking what motivated them to garden and what type of gardening are they doing.
“We’ve seen a resurgence of victory gardens, and retail nurseries across the state and nationwide are selling out of vegetable transplants and vegetable seeds,” she said.
The survey also asks how people are finding gardening information — through internet searches, social media, the LSU AgCenter or neighbors.
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Finally, Kirk-Ballard wants to find out if people will continue to garden when things go back to “normal.”
She will use the results to inform wholesale growers and retail outlets so they can meet consumer demand.
Kirk-Ballard said some of the lessons to be learned may include how to better disseminate information to first-time gardeners in a timely manner, how to meet and conduct learning activities from a distance and how to coordinate research remotely.