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Gardening while sheltering

  • Barbara Robertson
  • As I write this column, I’ve been sheltered for three weeks, hardly leaving the house except for walks around the block. Today, the proverbial phrase, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” came to mind. And, that reminded me it’s time to fertilize the citrus trees. 

    If I must be sheltered, at least I’m doing so in spring. With that in mind, I asked Master Gardener friends for ideas related to gardening that someone can do inside the house, outside in the garden right now, and on short walks in the neighborhood. Some ideas are practical. Some, whimsical. Spring is a wonderful time for all things garden. Here goes:

    Inside Your Home:

    - Explore printed and online seed company and nursery catalogs. Find plants that feed pollinators in all stages of their lives.

    - Re-pot and fertilize your houseplants.

    - Discover which local nurseries can deliver plants and garden supplies, and if delivery isn’t available, look for ones that offer curbside pick-up of online orders.

    - Learn the history of flowers. Discover which flowers are edible.

    - Start seeds in the house. Almost any container two to three inches deep with drainage holes will work.

    - Order prints of your garden photos to hang on the wall.

    - Tune into an online, televised, or streaming show or podcast about gardening, plants, or gardeners.

    - Read a book about gardens, gardening, garden designs, plants, native plants, trees, biologists, naturalists – the possibilities are enormous. You can download digital books from the library or order them online from local bookstores and elsewhere.

    - Start a garden journal – you know you’ve always wanted to do that.

    - Plan a fire-smart, water-wise garden renovation.

    On a Short Walk in the Neighborhood:

    - Identify the plants in your neighbors’ yards. Hint: Download an app that will help. 

    - Carry your garden journal and jot down any plants you’d like to add to your garden.

    - If you can walk to a natural landscape, look for wildflowers.

    Outside in Your Garden:

    - Walk around your house with a fire-smart and water-wise landscape in mind.

    - Count how many pollinators visit your garden in 15 minutes.

    - Take photographs of flowers, bees, birds, plants. Experiment with depth of field and lighting.

    - Identify all the species of bees in your garden.

    - Make a bee house for native bees.

    - Grab your loupe or a magnifying glass and see what hides under leaves.

    - Have a family weeding party. Pull weeds before they set seed.

    - Fertilize the garden with organic fertilizer.

    - Apply compost and mulch – order from a supplier that will deliver.

    - Create a planting bed. April is a good time to sow beets, carrots, lettuce and Swiss chard seeds and to plant potato tubers. Also, summer and fall-blooming annual flowers, and summer bulbs.

    - Prune off dead and diseased parts of plants, trees, and shrubs.

    - Jot down notes about your ecosystem in your garden journal – the amount of water needed, the sunlight and temperature, the insects, what’s growing, what’s blooming, which plants you might want to replace. Do this frequently.

    - Snip cuttings of favorite plants, keep them moist, and see if they’ll root. It can several weeks. Cuttings of succulents, however, need to be air dried until the cut end heals before planting.

    - Thin developing fruit such as apples when they reach dime size.

    - Thoroughly check your irrigation system.

    - Try to video a hummingbird.

    - Sit for a while and enjoy the wonder of Spring.

    And lastly, remember to check the UC Marin Master Gardeners website for ideas, checklists, how-to information, and more. http://marinmg.ucanr.edu .