As the virus crisis rages, the best thing you can do for yourself and your community is to stay home. At first we gardeners think great! This time of year we have lots to do, and taking on gardening projects keeps us sane. But some days are still hard. Here is a two-week supply of worthy undertakings to soothe your gardening soul until better times return.
1. Pot Up Pansies
Should you make it out to an open garden center, be sure to pick up enough pansies or mini-pansies to fill several pots, some for keeping and some for sharing. A smiling pansy left on a neighbour’s porch will make their day, as well as yours.
2. Forage Edible Weeds
A friend makes fried dandelion blossoms to eat with a pesto made from stinging nettles. I look forward to the immature flower heads of wild mustard, which taste like broccoli. There are many tasty bits amidst the weeds, like violets to sprinkle on salads. To learn more about foraging, check out Weeds You Can Eat and Useful Winter Weeds.
3. Chit Some Potatoes
Place seed potatoes in a warm, bright place to help them turn green and start sprouting. Bitter solanine that accumulates in the green skins deters predators and protects the tubers from premature rotting.
4. Propagate a Perennial
The best time to propagate perennial flowers and vegetables is early spring, just as they emerge from dormancy. Dig rooted pieces from the edges of established clumps, and move them to new beds or pots right away. If friends have asked for starts from your rhubarb or rudbeckia, the time has come to honour those requests.
5. Plant Herbs in a Pot
The best place to grow herbs is close to the kitchen door, so it’s always wise to grow a few of your favourites in containers. For spring try parsley with chives. As the weather warms, pair basil with oregano or marjoram.
6. Feed the Finches
The bird scene is changing fast, with winter birds leaving and summer species arriving. To better witness the change, keep a platform type bird feeder stocked with sunflower seeds or a bird seed blend made for finches for the next few weeks. Or, feed them on the ground, which is often the birds’ preference.
7. Share Extra Veggie Seedlings
Maybe you can’t host a plant swap, but you can still share your riches with gardening friends by dropping off plants in a designated place. Minimise mysteries by writing the name of the plant and variety on the container.
8. Groom a Houseplant
Maybe you can’t get a haircut yourself, but you can give one to an overgrown houseplant. Snip out shrivelled leaves, cut back leggy branches, and then give the plant a lukewarm shower in the kitchen sink or bathtub. In a matter of minutes, everybody’s happy.
9. Prep Some Potting Compost
On a fine weather day, combine potting compost saved from last year with a fresh infusion of compost, and tweak the mix with organic amendments such as composted manure or a balanced organic fertiliser. Many gardeners simply mix used potting compost with an equal amount of fresh stuff.
10. Create a Cute Trellis for Annual Vines
When your fingers are itching to create something, make a trellis for a summer climber using rustic materials. This article on twig towers and wattle fences has some neat ideas, or you can plan a bamboo masterpiece tied together with twine. Meanwhile, start seeds of an annual flowering vine you’ve been wanting to try, such as sweet peas, hyacinth beans, runner beans or well-behaved morning glories.
11. Trick Out Your GrowVeg Garden Plan
I’m finally getting around to adding structures to my GrowVeg garden plan, which you can find by clicking on the selection bar drop-down menu in your plan’s toolbar. I also like to look at the plans people publish in the Garden Plans Gallery, which range from highly admirable to “What were they thinking?”
12. Attack an Invasive Shrub
Feeling frustrated? Take out your anger on invasive thug shrubs that have dared to come back yet again. Persist!
13. Sharpen Your Spade
I did this earlier this week, and it’s so much easier to dig with a sharp blade. Next up are my weeding tools, which will benefit from the sharpening techniques shown here.
14. Start More Seeds
The list of candidates is long indeed, so keep starting seeds that interest you. Cucumbers today, basil tomorrow. It’s hard to imagine a better use of time.
So there’s a start. Yes, you can garden your way through the virus crisis. Repeat three times, breathe deeply, and dig in.
If you’re missing contact with other gardeners, check out Dig for Victory, an empowering response to the coronavirus crisis, bringing people together to focus on something we can control – our gardens.