If online orders for seeds and plants are any indication, there will likely be many more backyard gardens around the state this year.

Since mid-March, interest in garden seeds and plants has quadrupled at the Midwest headquarters of Earl May in Shenandoah. Spokeswoman Deanna Anderson says online orders came in at an astonishing pace.

“It was an interesting time for us,” Anderson says. “It was kind of fun, back to the catalog days for us. We really liked that and we love sharing our knowledge with our customers and hope that they continue throughout the next several years.”

Anderson says onion sets and seed potatoes flew off the shelves. Now that the weather is more springlike, she says tomato plants are growing more popular.  “As we’re getting into this warmer weather, especially this last ten days of really nice weather and it looks like we’re going to have great weather for the next few days, you can definitely see that itch for people to get out,” Anderson says. “They’re wanting to put stuff into their yard and their garden so they can do stuff with their kids.”

She says many customers say they‘re planting a garden for the first time or haven’t had one for several years. Earl May has 29 garden centers the Midwest including Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.

(By Pat Blank, Iowa Public Radio)