This is a tough one.
It is the perfect time to start working on your gardens while you are sheltering at home, but should you go to your local garden center or supply store during this COVID-19 pandemic?
I saw a Facebook post the other day of a person upset someone was going to the store to get mulch. They shouted out on their post about how this is not the time to go to the store, risking contact with others, for mulch.
I thought, I see their point.
But darn it, it IS the time to be outside, to do something meditative, and get fresh air safely at home in your own yard with no one but you and the birds.
People are stuck at home, and I am absolutely sure, people who love plants and gardening want to work on what they may while they have the spare time right now.
We have a conundrum on our hands here. Is it okay to go to the garden center or a supply store for plants or gardening items?
I am not going to answer that question.
I suppose if you are doing your six foot distancing, they have curb side pick-up for individual needed items, and you are not touching bags of soil – maybe.
But, I don’t know.
It kind of sucks for a gardener to not to take advantage of this free time.
After all, as noted above, gardening is very meditative and relaxes the mind. Something we all need right now.
And it is actually a good time to do some clean-up work outdoors in early spring, especially on sunny days.
Gardening and being outside may also help the kids at home now with breaks from at-home schooling.
Things you could do possibly, if you don’t have the need for actual items like mulch or plants, are:
Prune your shrubs – those which should be done in early spring before new growth starts.
Remove dead leaves from your landscape or garden beds you didn’t get to in the fall.
Clean your patio pots and containers with water and bleach per the appropriate mixing directions.
Sow your seeds indoors. If no seedling trays on hand, use alternatives – egg cartons, yogurt cups, or toilet paper rolls. (If you don’t have seedling mix, that is a dilemma however.)
Sharpen your garden tools, clean up your garden shelves, and take inventory of your gardening items on hand and make a list of what is missing so when it is safe to go out, you will be ready.
Plan out a new garden bed you’ve always dreamed of.
Watch the patterns of sun and shade in your yard for a day – see where sun lovers are best suited and look for good places for shade plants, etc.
Dust off and read some of those garden books you have but never had the time to fully read before. You need to clean anyhow.
Get your garden decor items out of storage and place them in your favorite spots.
Grow some micro-greens inside the home (did you go to my sessions on those a couple seasons ago?)
Watch some garden related video’s for inspiration. (I have some on seed sowing on my sites right now). Visit my Container Crazy CT page on Facebook if interested.
Gather some stalks of spring flowering shrubs to force into bloom inside the home (e.g., forsythia).
Order some new container gardens and patio pots online. They may arrive a little later than normal but heck, they may be right on time for May plantings.
Get your tubers and bulbs out of winter storage. Pot them up early to get them started inside the home.
Clean your hummingbird feeders and hang them up – empty, if need be. But they will be ready for when the hummingbirds are and you are ready to make your own sugar water.
Get your patio furniture set up. Okay, maybe risking a last season weird snow fall or spring frost incident, but it will melt fast.
Put your big pots out and dream of planting them. I am! Envision the future.
Collect your tomato cages, trellises, and bamboo poles. Put them where you will be using them when the garden green light is set to go.
Put out your peony hoops around the peony plants starting to pop up now from the ground.
Build a scarecrow with your kids to put in the garden with materials you have on hand. You’ve been cleaning your closets out anyhow, right?
Have your kids search for a hollow log in your landscape if you are near woods to create a planter of sorts. It doesn’t have to be live plants – add some dirt and make twig people. Or find some ferns in the wild to plant in the stump.
Paint some rocks. Another great kid activity. They could pick specific locations in your yard to put them out or place them in gardens. Make them herb markers. Don’t have paint, maybe use nail polish?
Enforcing policies if you have to go:
If we get creative, we can avoid the visits to supply stores or open garden centers, but if we truly do need supplies, then at a minimum, store owners need to enforce policies (see the article below).
And please people, don’t rush to judgement.
Some people may need a propane refill or pet food – which are also at some garden like stores.
Article stated above:
An article by AgCenter Research Extension Teacher outlines some tips in an article titled, “Public Health Emergency Response for Retail Store Managers.”
Container Crazy CT
Broad Brook, CT
P.S. If you are local to me and need seed packets, I still have some in stock for tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, some flowers, herbs, etc for sale. I could mail them to you. The details are on WORKSHOPSCT.com. I will have seedlings for sale in mid-May too.