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Garden through the coronavirus crisis

The natural world is still there -- get out and enjoy it. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)
Reasons why getting outdoors is good for you

At least you can still garden.

During the coronavirus crisis, people are re-evaluating what they can and cannot do. The list of “cannots” seems to be getting longer by the minute.

But gardening is a relatively solo activity. Plants are not coronavirus carriers. We can be safe while tending our flowers and vegetables.

Here are some reasons to keep gardening during the coronavirus closures:

1. Gardening relieves stress. The current atmosphere of crisis has been extremely stressful. Our immune systems are more vulnerable when we’re stressed out. Less stress; we’re automatically healthier.

2. Gardening is good exercise. Getting outdoors and doing something physical helps keep us healthier, too.

3. Our garden needs us. Its care is our responsibility. Go out and see how things are growing, especially during this ever-changing almost-spring weather. What’s sprouting? What’s about to bloom?

4. Gardening feels normal. We need some normalcy during such uncertain times. In gardening, we (almost) have a sense of control that’s lacking in everything else right now.

5. Our garden can feed us. (Especially if we concentrate on growing edibles.) We may need those fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs.

6. Gardens lift our spirits. Bring some flowers indoors to enjoy. Share a bouquet with a friend. It will bring some much-needed joy.

7. Gardens help us focus on the future. Gardeners are always planning ahead – what to plant, when to harvest. By looking ahead, we help assure ourselves that there is a positive outcome, that life will get back to normal and we will have time and reason to smell the roses.

So, be healthy, stay safe and keep gardening! We’ll be there to help.


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Garden Checklist for week of April 14

It's still not warm enough to transplant tomatoes directly in the ground, but we’re getting there.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden needs nutrients. Fertilize shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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