Gardening in Quarantine

Stiles Seiler

Disclaimer: Story initially published at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses, schools, and everyday life has come to a halt. Gov. Wolf has ordered a stay at home order, and the CDC recommends practicing social distancing. The people of Hunter’s Valley are taking the necessary precautions with all these changes globally; one thing has stayed the same: the seasons. It is springtime, and for many people, that means it is time to plant.

This year especially, gardening has become a popular pastime in Hunter’s Valley, Pennsylvania. From longtime gardeners like the Moody family on Church Road to first-time gardeners like the Seilers on Route 3/22. All over the community, people have begun to build their gardens.

An elevated garden is created by making a box with no bottom or top and filling it with soil, and a gardener then plants their crops in the soil box. One can use many different materials for the box. The purpose of building an elevated garden is to provide another layer of protection for the plants. Although it is not perfect, the garden’s elevation keeps the plants from getting flooded, and if it is elevated high enough, it deters garden pests like rabbits and other small rodents.

This year, the Moodys are growing a diversified garden. They want all sorts of different herbs, veggies, and even a little fruit, like strawberries.

“Well, we’ve always wanted to be self-sustaining with the animals and the garden, but this year we are giving the garden a lot more attention. This crazy virus has us working a lot harder towards actually becoming a bit more self-reliant,” Sonya Moody said.

And it is that same desire for self-reliance the Moodys felt that prompted the Seilers to start a garden.

“It (the pandemic) really opens your eyes to how fast your world can be flipped upside down,” said Kelly Seiler.

The Seilers’ garden sits behind their house next to three large blueberry bushes. Kevin Seiler works to secure the last corner of the soil box together and get ready to fill it with a more fertile soil than that on the ground.

“Thank God you can still order stuff online,” said Kevin Seiler. “All the seeds are from the mail.”

He said he had difficulty getting materials because the local Farmers Market has been closed down. When asked what the motivation was to build a garden this year, the Seilers cited problems at the grocery store: with the coronavirus pandemic, many items sold out at the market.

“We don’t want to not have access to fresh vegetables if things get worse,” said Kelly Seiler.

Just up the road from the Seilers’ residence is the home of the Penn family. The Penns have been gardening for more than a decade.

Deborah Penn said, “I’m glad people are learning more about gardening and are giving it a try, but I’m sad about why they are.”

The Penns are an elderly couple who live modestly. Their lives have been changed drastically by the pandemic. Their family is delivering their food, but that is the only interaction they get with other people. They believe they can eat from the garden a lot more this year and are growing more vegetables than herbs.

“It’s not like we can go to the store when we want something. We have to wait,” said Richard Penn.

People are getting started on their gardens all over the community and maintaining the ones they already have. During these strange times, it is becoming more critical to have a safety net. Whether it is a financial net like a savings account or something like a garden, people feel the need to have a backup plan. Thankfully, there are seemingly limitless resources online on self-sustainability and self-reliance. A useful website for gardening specifically is It has all sorts of information on gardens and gardening, including plant identification. One can teach themselves everything they need to know about things like gardening and survival. If things are looking desperate, knowing skills like this could save lives not only for the owners of the garden but also for their neighbors.