Emily Buckley, editor in chief 

Mark and Ronnette Anderson, owners of Anderson’s Seed and Garden in Downtown Logan were just beginning their busiest season of the year after a long Cache Valley winter when the local “stay home, stay safe” recommendation came from Governor Herbert on March 27. Suddenly, what seemed like busy before was only a preview of what was to come.

Garden supply stores were considered essential during the shutdown, and the lines at Anderson’s seed counter were literally out the door as Cache Valley residents came in to buy plants, seeds, and other supplies to plant their gardens. “When times get tough, Anderson’s gets busier,” Mark said.

Mark and Ronnette felt it was important to continue serving Cache Valley residents, but they knew they couldn’t do it alone. “We gathered our employees together and gave them the option,” Mark said. “We told them we wanted them to feel safe and to stay healthy, so we wouldn’t ask them to work if they didn’t feel comfortable, but they all agreed that this was an important way they could help our community. I have been so proud of our employees as they’ve felt the drive to fill this need for our community during a tough time.”

Anderson’s has seen all kinds of gardeners this spring: the seasoned, the green, and everyone in between. Whether you are new to gardening and are simply looking for a way to keep your family busy during this unique time, or if you have gardened in the past and are using gardening as a way to increase your food storage, Mark offers the following three tips to help you have the best chance at success:

Don’t overwhelm yourself. “Some people come in and say they want to try everything,” Mark said. “Keep in mind that some things have very specific care requirements and it can get overwhelming fast.” He suggests, “Only plant your favorites — if you aren’t going to eat it, don’t plant it.”

Be realistic about the space you have available. “If you only have a small area to work with, be realistic about what will fit,” Mark said. He explains that, for example, a cauliflower plant will flower once and can take up a lot of space while a tomato plant may take the same amount of space and can produce a bushel and a half of tomatoes.

“Consider what is going to give you the most return on the space that you have,” Mark said. “The best return on your investment is going to be your core vegetables: beans, corn, tomatoes, carrots, beets, potatoes — these things don’t take up a lot of space and will provide you with food you can store and use all winter long.”

Keep it fun. “Let the kids participate,” Mark said. “Let them make mistakes and then fix them together. The trick is taking them out to ‘play’ and work in the garden in 15- to 30-minute bursts, not for hours on end — then it is fun, not work. It is a great activity you can do together as a family.”

Mark suggests that kids will enjoy seeing that they took part in planting and caring for the garden so much that the results will extend beyond learning how to be self-sufficient and to be hard workers. “Our kids are all veggie eaters because they’ve grown up enjoying what they’ve harvested,” he said.

If you have questions about anything you are growing in Cache Valley, check the Knowledge Center on andersonseedandgarden.com for a wealth of information, or stop into their store at 69 West Center Street in Logan to pick up their Vegetable Information Guide or even ask the experts themselves.