History: Time to garden once again, despite drama

a sozen gardening dont'sThen or now: Some gardening rules don't change.

By Angela H. Cutrer

April 2020: Nothing but time; that’s how we find ourselves living these days. What to do, what to do? How about gardening?
Wait, don’t knock gardening yet. No really – even a concrete jungle can hold a garden, so-called “black thumb” gardener-wannabes can be successful and even those who have been gardening for eons can learn something new (and teach others best practices).
There is no better time than spring, which continues on no matter what world pandemic chooses to rear its ugly head, to starting plants weeding your outside plot so to be ready for the warmth that’s sure to come soon – and stay – eventually.

Vintage Victory Garden poster

Vintage Victory Garden poster

Historically, when Americans found themselves in times of turmoil, they depended on their own gardening – so-called “Victory Gardens” – to keep their tables filled and their stomachs full. The United States government has encouraged this behavior during wartime to bond people together in the common goal of taking care of themselves while keeping their bodies healthy during lean times.
“Gardening was promoted as a family-friendly activity that provided exercise and stretched food budgets,” reports www.opb.org. “At its peak in 1943, over two-thirds of U.S. households planted fruit and vegetable gardens, producing over 80 billion pounds of food, or 40 percent of the fresh produce eaten by U.S. residents that year.”
Now, in the year 2020, America finds itself amid a global meltdown when it comes to health, safety and production. Salooda, a digital logistics solution company, noted at www.ibtimes.com that manufacturing has taken a massive hit due to the pandemic. If the supply chain breaks down, needed supplies like food can’t be transported to where it needs to be. This is especially true when self isolation takes over a country’s ability to move freely and safely.

A man works in a Fenway Victory Garden

“Although it remains difficult to predict how the outbreak will develop, especially when it reaches its peak, the authorities have indicated that drastic measures to contain the outbreak should be avoided as far as possible due to its significant economic impact,” Salooda’s website said. However, sometimes drastic measures are necessary, which means drastic measures must be enacted to keep people safe.
Elisabeth Braw of the Modern Deterrence project at the Royal United Services Institute (foreignpolicy.com) said that “supply-chain vulnerabilities may only become apparent when there’s a crisis. When a crisis strikes it is, of course, extremely difficult to fix the problem because companies are all looking for substitutes at the same time – and the market doesn’t simply have lots of specialized companies able to spring into action if there’s trouble elsewhere.”
If the supply chain is broken, it means what a community needs may not have a way to get there. Fresh food might be harder to find in the coming weeks and months. Supply chain problems mean what we need can’t always get to where we want it. That’s why creating your own “Victory Garden” could be just the thing that helps you relax, gets in your exercise, helps you share the duty with your fellow housemates and allows you to produce your own vegetable and fruit bounty to ease the effects of potential empty grocery store shelves.

Vintage Victory Garden poster

There are several types of gardens you might plant. Even if you garden annually, you might want to add to it this year with extra amounts of veggies and fruits. Remember that although you want to use your bounty to take the place of what you can’t buy at the store, you may also want to make other items you can enjoy later, such as pickles, spices and vegetables to can.
Here are a few ways to get started on greening that thumb of yours, with some extra suggestions from Nature-and-Garden.com:
Weed – We all hate it, but we all have to do it. The spring rains soften the ground, but that means weeds would have taken advantage. Pull them out, making sure you have included the root system.
Reseed – Lawns have had a rough winter, too, so make sure to take advantage of the weather and reseed your lawn to reintroduce nutrients. What good is a flourishing garden if your lawn looks terrible?
Prune – Roses needed pruning now and shrubs that have finished winter blooming do, too. Don’t forget those hedges, either. Make everything look great!
Repot – Houseplants love when they get a new pot and a [root] trim. Keep some inside to ensure you feel the outside inside, which is sure to brighten anyone’s day. Trim up dead or overun leaves and stems and a simple saucer with clay pebbles will add needed humidity in the air for houseplants to thrive.
Aroma – Carol Cloud Bailey of yard-doc.com suggested nursing plants that smell good, gently sway in their hanging baskets or have a burst of color in order to calm and relax you. She suggests planting herbs like rosemary, lemon thyme and basil.
Be choosy – Plant things you can eat, you can enjoy or you can divide (or all three). Sure, you might be gardening just to have something to do, but don’t let your efforts go to waste. Cultivating your plants means next year you are already good to go with little effort. You might find you enjoy fresh herbs you grew yourself.

Poster for business-provided plots and contests

Educate – Get your kids or grandkids involved. Use the internet to show them different plants and their uses. Let them help you design a garden plot or create a small one for each child. Discuss the reasons for planting what you do. Let them get their hands dirty. Show them how to start cuttings from things right in your kitchen.
Get creative – Who says a garden has to be a certain way? That’s nonsense. Do what makes you happy. Plant what you can throw into a salad later or what can put a smile on your face because of its appearance. And you don’t have to have land to have a garden; use things you have around the house to create a container garden. Plants don’t care where they grow as long as they have light and moisture.
Stay safe – Gardening has to be a near solitary endeavor during the COVID-19 lockdown. Call a local nursery to see if it can accommodate your purchase in a safe manner. It’s always good to support local businesses because those businesses are what keep villages, towns and cities vibrant and healthy. Perhaps a neighbor can leave you some seedlings to get started? (Plus, it’s good to check on your friends and family members.) If it’s not possible to get your hands on what you need, order your plants or seeds from online. Don’t forget to purchase other necessary tools you may need.
Wash your hands. And then wash them again. Next, open that new book and sit outside among your plantings knowing you have done something good - and something different – with your today.
Things to plant
Beans, peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbages, watermelons, strawberries, turnips, squash, onions, melons, radishes, pumpkins, onions, kale, gourds, carrots, leeks, eggplants

Nearby nurseries & greenhouses
Call to see if they are open and how they can accommodate you safely.

Old Well Greenhouse, 491 Market St, Clarington, Ohio, (740) 458-1742
Hannibal Garden Center, 42293 State Route 7, Clarington, Ohio (740) 483-2309
Scots Landscape Nurseries & Southern States Inc., 6303 Grand Central Ave, Parkersburg, WV, (304) 295-6303
Greenleaf Landscapes, 414 Muskingum Dr, Marietta, Ohio, (740) 373-1639
Smith’s Greenhouse, 40 Peerless St, Williamstown, WV, (304) 210-4213

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