The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everyday living for the time being; however, there is a positive aspect in that we now get to spend more time at home. If you have a serious case of cabin fever now is a great time to put that "green thumb" to use as long as you take a few precautions and continue to practice social distancing.
Not sure where to start? Below are some potential gardening activities that you can safely accomplish while self-quarantining:
Clean and sanitize your gardening equipment. First, remove all dirt and debris from equipment. You can do this by physically removing dirt and debris followed by wiping a damp cloth or paper towel over the equipment. To sanitize your equipment, mix one part 10 percent chlorine bleach solution to nine parts water and soak for 30 minutes. Household cleaners such as Lysol can be used; however there is little research on effectiveness. Sanitizing equipment is always a good idea prevent the spread of disease causing pathogens for both humans and plants.
Rake up leaves and pick up limbs. With spring already here grass is going to start gearing up for green up and getting rid of leaves that are covering your lawn will expose it to sunlight. Thick build-up of leaves and fallen limbs, particularly under trees, is a great environment for insects. Removal will also aid in eliminating habitats for these insects and a reduction in population.
Prune azaleas once bloom is over. Pruning azaleas after bloom is ideal as pruning them any other time of year can cause a reduction for blossoms the following year. For regular maintenance, only prune dead wood and excessively long branches. Your pruning goal is to allow air circulation and sunlight to penetrate the canopy. If you happen to get pruning fever and want to cut more, now is not the time for all plants to be pruned. With these past few days of warm weather some plants may be coming out of dormancy. If you see spring growth on plants then you’ll have to wait to prune.
Weed and replace mulch in beds and around trees. If you want to go a step farther for future weed control, put down landscape fabric before you apply mulch.
Plant a vegetable garden. Be mindful of site selection and choose an area that will have good sunlight. If you are going to build a raised garden bed be sure that you are using non-chemically treated wood. If that is all you have access to then you can use plastic to line your bed. It is always a good idea to test your soil so you know if you need to amend it. The Extension Office is still processing soil samples at this time. Plants also enjoy social distancing, so be mindful of space requirements when you are planning your garden.