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Sacramento community gardens staying open

Artichokes don't stop growing during a shutdown. Community gardens such as Fremont in midtown Sacramento are staying open. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

Gardeners can keep their plots growing during coronavirus crisis

In the greater scheme of our new normal, gardening is essential.

As a food source and open space, Sacramento’s community gardens are being allowed to stay open to members during the current coronavirus shutdown.

“The (community) garden is considered a park and open space,” explained Bill Maynard, the City of Sacramento’s community gardens coordinator. “Also in some ways, (the garden is) a food store, so you can go to it.”

Gardeners are asked to be mindful of social distancing – stay at least 6 feet away from other people while pulling weeds or watering veggies. That shouldn’t be a problem; gardening tends to be a solo activity in general.

Maynard asked that gardeners also use some other precautions, such as bringing their own gloves or tools.

“Wear gloves when using the common tools,” he said. “Wear gloves when touching common things like locks, tables, etc. Wash your hands often! Don’t touch your face.”

Besides the food, community gardens also give gardeners a chance to exercise outside, offering both mental and physical benefits during these stressful times.

On the practical side, gardens need consistent care. If left alone for several weeks during this crisis, weeds would take over and there would be much more work to tackle later on. So, Sacramento is encouraging community gardeners to maintain their plots and pull the weeds.

Like many city employees, Maynard will be off work for the next two or three weeks. But he’ll still be gardening.

“Take care and be healthy,” he said. “Eat your veggies!”


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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