14 Ways to Garden Your Way Through the Virus Crisis

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As the virus crisis rages, the best thing you can do for yourself and your community is to stay home. At first we gardeners think great! This time of year we have lots to do, and taking on gardening projects keeps us sane. But some days are still hard. Here is a two-week supply of worthy undertakings to soothe your gardening soul until better times return.

1. Pot Up Pansies

Should you make it out to an open garden center, be sure to pick up enough pansies or mini-pansies to fill several pots, some for keeping and some for sharing. A smiling pansy left on a neighbor’s porch will make their day, as well as yours.

2. Forage Edible Weeds

A friend makes fried dandelion blossoms to eat with a pesto made from stinging nettles. I look forward to the immature flower heads of wild mustard, which taste like broccoli. There are many tasty bits amidst the weeds, like violets to sprinkle on salads. To learn more about foraging, check out Weeds You Can Eat and Useful Winter Weeds.

Exposure to light helps seed potatoes develop dense buds and tough, bitter skins

3. Chit Some Potatoes

Place seed potatoes in a warm, bright place to help them turn green and start sprouting. Bitter solanine that accumulates in the green skins deters predators and protects the tubers from premature rotting.

4. Propagate a Perennial

The best time to propagate perennial flowers and vegetables is early spring, just as they emerge from dormancy. Dig rooted pieces from the edges of established clumps, and move them to new beds or pots right away. If friends have asked for starts from your rhubarb or rudbeckia, the time has come to honor those requests.

5. Plant Herbs in a Pot

The best place to grow herbs is close to the kitchen door, so it’s always wise to grow a few of your favorites in containers. For spring try parsley with chives. As the weather warms, pair basil with oregano or marjoram.

6. Feed the Finches

The bird scene is changing fast, with winter birds leaving and summer species arriving. To better witness the change, keep a platform type bird feeder stocked with sunflower seeds or a bird seed blend made for finches for the next few weeks. Or, feed them on the ground, which is often the birds’ preference.

Doorstep delivery of extra cabbage seedlings

7. Share Extra Veggie Seedlings

Maybe you can’t host a plant swap, but you can still share your riches with gardening friends by dropping off plants in a designated place. Minimize mysteries by writing the name of the plant and variety on the container.

8. Groom a Houseplant

Maybe you can’t get a haircut yourself, but you can give one to an overgrown houseplant. Snip out shriveled leaves, cut back leggy branches, and then give the plant a lukewarm shower in the kitchen sink or bathtub. In a matter of minutes, everybody’s happy.

9. Prep Some Potting Soil

On a fine weather day, combine potting soil saved from last year with a fresh infusion of compost, and tweak the mix with organic amendments such as composted manure or a balanced organic fertilizer. Many gardeners simply mix used potting soil with an equal amount of fresh stuff.

A twig trellis in a pot supports a cardinal climber vine (Ipomoea multifida)

10. Create a Cute Trellis for Annual Vines

When your fingers are itching to create something, make a trellis for a summer climber using rustic materials. This article on twig towers and wattle fences has some neat ideas, or you can plan a bamboo masterpiece tied together with twine. Meanwhile, start seeds of an annual flowering vine you’ve been wanting to try, such as sweet peas, hyacinth beans, runner beans or well-behaved morning glories.

11. Trick Out Your GrowVeg Garden Plan

I’m finally getting around to adding structures to my GrowVeg garden plan, which you can find by clicking on the selection bar drop-down menu in your plan’s toolbar. I also like to look at the plans people publish in the Garden Plans Gallery, which range from highly admirable to “What were they thinking?”

12. Attack an Invasive Shrub

Feeling frustrated? Take out your anger on invasive thug shrubs that have dared to come back yet again. Persist!

A spade with a sharp edge is a joy to use

13. Sharpen Your Spade

I did this earlier this week, and it’s so much easier to dig with a sharp blade. Next up are my weeding tools, which will benefit from the sharpening techniques shown here.

14. Start More Seeds

The list of candidates is long indeed, so keep starting seeds that interest you. Cucumbers today, basil tomorrow. It’s hard to imagine a better use of time.

So there’s a start. Yes, you can garden your way through the virus crisis. Repeat three times, breathe deeply, and dig in.

If you’re missing contact with other gardeners, check out Dig for Victory, an empowering response to the coronavirus crisis, bringing people together to focus on something we can control – our gardens.

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Show Comments


"Is there an App I can use on my cell phone?"
Dan Fink on Saturday 28 March 2020
"Hi Dan. Our Garden Planner currently runs on desktop and laptop computers only, but from next year we'll start work on making it compatible with mobile devices too. Our Garden Journal app (included as part of your subscription) can be used on any Internet-connected smartphone or tablet as well as computers. To use it on your phone, login to your GrowVeg account and tap on Journal in the menu."
GrowVeg Customer Service on Saturday 28 March 2020

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