By Sherrie Eoff
Sounds like a way to spend more time in the garden to me, and I’m all in.
In these crazy times of the Corona Virus, social distancing and stay- at-home orders, our gardens are our sanctuaries. They are a place to de-stress, stay active and get you outside into the fresh air. During the early spring, weeding remains a necessary task. Some gardeners find weed removal sessions to be meditative, therapeutic and satisfying. It is certainly a safe and welcome distraction from our threatening surroundings, so align your thoughts to emphasize this work as a contributor to the health of your plants and garden.
With schools out due to the virus, it’s a great time to get the kids involved in gardening activities with you. Developing and maintaining a home garden involves scientific, aesthetic and physical concepts. For a wealth of ideas for both indoor and outdoor gardening check out http://kidsgardening.org/garden-activities. I’ve seen lots of ideas for outdoor scavenger hunts that would also be both fun and educational for the kids. And there are always the regular gardening chores to be done.
Now is still a good time for installing new plants in the garden. Some local garden centers have continued business hours with various strategies for enabling customers and staff to maintain social distance. Many of our local garden centers are offering curbside pick-up for gardeners that order plants in advance by phone or email.
Mail-order is another option that offers a great range of choices, and can evolve into a convenient approach to plant buying. Keep in mind that many mail order plants will be small and shipping can get pricy.
The internet provides information on basic concepts and answers to questions quickly and in abundance. Many of our local nurseries have websites that have how-to info and plant information on them. Botanical garden websites also offer a wide variety of information. And don’t forget about the University of Arkansas Extension Office website (uaex.edu) for information on a variety of plant related topics. There are also websites that specialize in a specific plant such as Roses, Iris and Native Plants, etc. The American Horticultural Society lists many of these garden societies. Visit (http://ahsgardening,org) and look under Resources/Societies, Clubs and Organizations.
Other gardening related activities to consider are:
1. Take an online class. Lots of options – both for beginners and advanced special-topics – are available by search. Or go the freebie route and search out YouTube instructional videos on topics that interest you.
2. Catch up on your reading. Dig out those garden books and magazines you’ve never had time to read. Or revisit some of your past favorites. You might be newly inspired.
3. TLC for the houseplants. This is a good time of year to groom, snip, and/or repot the houseplants. Try your hand at taking cuttings to make “starts” to give away later to friends – another project the kids might like.
4. Tree research. If you’ve been thinking about adding more trees to the property, this is a good time to research specific varieties. April is an excellent month to plant them.
5. Virtual tours. In the meantime, visit public-garden websites… many of them are loaded with photos. A good place to start is the Gardenvisit.com website.
If you’re interested in starting a vegetable garden, some of the best advice comes from the National Garden Bureau (NBG.org). The original Victory Gardens arose in response to World War I & II. The National Garden Bureau updated its information with 10 Tips for Victory Garden 2.0.
- Know your growing zone.
- Make a list of vegetables your family likes to eat
- Decide what you can grow from seed and what you should buy as transplants
- Plan your garden space.
- Know your soil or buy good gardening mixes. Soil testing is a great way to get your garden off to a good start.
- Follow the suggested planting and sowing dates.
- Want to get your garden started with starter plants?
- Start Composting
- Don’t forget to plan for pollinator-friendly flowers
- Learn more from the additional resources below…e-newsletters, gardening books, on-line gardening courses, gardening podcasts and gardening videos
Enjoy your gardens and stay healthy.