Gardening In Strange Times

By Cathy Austin

Oh, boy, has the landscape ever changed! As we continue to self-isolate, shelter in place, ‘social distance’ and stay apart together, and, really, navigate daily through this pandemic, one thing is absolutely certain–spring is unfolding day by day and weekly in our yards, parks and gardens but who will enjoy it, can we still enjoy it?

Yes, yes, we can, just in a slightly different way!
Unless there’s curbside pickup at garden centres–once we’ve called our order in–unless there will be fewer centres, if any, open, unless we go with a season of spring/summer/fall without annuals, new perennials, trees and bushes, what will our gardens and balconies look like?
Let’s calmly take a look at our options. Let’s use an abundance of ingenuity to create the best 2020 garden under the circumstances. We can do it, let’s start here—-

If you have a house you have some sort of shed. Take a browse around, amazing bits and bobs and odds n ends await, things you can make into garden art. Pop something unique into an empty pot (assuming it’s got leftover soil from 2019) or into your existing perennial garden or annual empty beds. Have you any rocks or bricks or flat stones? Pop them into the empty plant-free garden space. Toss in some seeds (again, maybe leftover from last season). Be surprised when things pop up between the stones or rocks!

And remember to drag out all those silly lawn ornaments. Mine have been in place to greet the tulips since early April 🙂 They add a definite bit of cheer when we need it most.

Got bags of potting soil stacked up in the yard? Grab one, position it in an area close to the house, cut out a square in the center and plunk in some rooted veggies. Yes, root some veg in your sunny kitchen windowsill. All you need is a potato or two, remember this experiment from grade school?! Poke three sticks in a potato half, balance over a shallow dish of water. You’ll have action in no time. This works for carrots, too. Cut off the top half with greens, repeat or pop in a small jar. Then there’s celery, avocado, green onions, even pineapples. Ask Google for more and many details! Be sure to make a couple of spaced out holes in the bottom of the bag so nothing gets water logged during a rainfall. And keep your eye on the critters who visit your yard!
Back to that bag–you can toss in some seeds if you like. Bag gardening is quick, easy and in times of ‘needs must’ almost a given!

Egg cartons are ideal for rooting seeds prior to planting outside. In fact, I came across an article saying use the egg shells to pop the seeds in. Very clever!

Those with balconies can enjoy an edible garden using the above tricks. If you’ve inside houseplants, take them outside this year; be mindful of the way the sun hits your unit, you don’t want to fry your favourite plants!

Perennials are the best thing to divide and make more of. This is my plan for our large garden space and bounty of pots (that usually hold annual displays of geranium, etc). I’ve been meaning to divide a bunch of things and just hadn’t done it. No excuse this year, it’s happening! I am going to fill some of my big empty pots with baby perennials! If you have hostas, sedums, monarda, shasta daisy and asters you can divide and share. Call up your friends and do a curbside drop or drive by pick up. Easy sharing!

If you’re crafty with lumber or maybe your spouse or partner is, try a vertical gardening project using old eaves troughs or old pipes layered on a sturdy fence. This is a great way to plant veggies. Be sure the plants get full sun for 6 hours. To protect the fence, fix the troughs against plastic sheeting to avoid moisture seeping into the wood or if a wall, the brick.

A person crafty with the crochet hook, I’ve a garland of flowers and tassels across the back raised bed and a wreath of yarn flowers hanging on the fence. Yes, it all gets wet but it dries and actually, survives the winter, too.
So many possibilities, really, so many ways to be creative this summer in our gardens. Make the most of your ‘floral’ landscape, sit back, grab a book and enjoy!
‘We’re all in this together’