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COVID-19 Gardening Tips for the Procrastinating Gardener

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Buying transplanted seedlings saves time

If you have not started on your garden yet, now is the time to avoid what COVID-19 did for toilet paper that it could do to your gardening plans this spring.

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Many gardeners enjoy the ease and convenience of buying container plants over starting seedlings from scratch. Especially if the gardening bug has bitten late, leaving the procrastinating gardener scrambling to find transplants to harden and transplant.

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However, being a procrastinator and waiting until the last minute has its advantages in that it avoids late season killing frosts and opens up the possibility of finding unsold container plants at discounted prices. Unfortunately, this spring may prove different and leave the procrastinating gardener with fewer options and possibly an unplanted vegetable garden due to COVID-19.

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Recent news sources report that Americans are demonstrating a significant increase toward an interest in planting gardens this year in response to coronavirus-based concerns of food security and fears of unchecked food hoarding. In fact, some seed companies are so backlogged with demands for many of their popular varieties, that they had to temporarily refuse new orders until they were sure they could meet the demand. Furthermore, gardening service websites are also reporting significantly increased traffic.

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Another COVID-19 influence that may affect the procrastinating gardener is that many garden centers, greenhouses and nurseries in some states were under coronavirus-fighting, business-closure rules that have shut off parts of the plant pipeline for getting those transplants ready for sale to the public. Therefore, it is not clear just yet what to expect as far as the availability of container vegetables will be in the immediate future.

What is clear, however, is that following the Boy Scout motto of preparedness is the best bet not for just the procrastinating gardener, but everyone else as well. And as such, here are some COVID-19 gardening tips that could make a difference in your gardening this year:

Research your local sources

Call or visit your local nurseries and garden centers and ask them what their expectations are of providing container plants this Spring. Some may offer preordering, which could help you avoid a potential veggie-container run that exhausts their supply before you can get to their store. Find out if the stores will be open to customers, or if it is providing pickup at the curb service only.

Stop by your local general hardware stores with gardening departments and take a quick look to see what they have on display. If their selection of container vegetables looks sparse in comparison to last year, this may indicate their suppliers might not be able to meet demands. While there, now would be a good time to see if their packaged seed displays are well-stocked. Is there a wide-variety of vegetable seeds, or is it mostly flower and ornamentals?

Go Online
You can actually purchase container plants online. However, there are many cons to this option:

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• Online container veggies are expensive
• Shipping not only could damage the plants (and probably will with today’s shipping services), but weaken them as well due to temperature stresses and rough handling.
• You do not get to select the seedlings to choose the strongest and healthiest appearing.
• It is likely the business will have a no-return/no-refund policy.

Ask a Neighbor

If you live in a neighborhood that sports many small gardens, the chances are that some of your neighbors have seedlings they started from scratch. Gardeners who DIY their plants typically have an excess of seedlings that they may be willing to sell or even give away when asked nicely. Making a habit of sharing produce gleaned from your garden is a good way to build positive relationships within a neighborhood and as a way to repay someone back for their help.

Consider Expanding Your Gardening Repertoire

Tomatoes are possibly the most commonly purchased container-vegetable plants. Now is a good time to get out of your rut and try seed planting other vegetable crops like beans, corn, root vegetables, etc. directly into your garden while the timing is correct for your region. If you are unsure what grows good and when in your area, just go online and check your state’s university agriculture extension services for the needed info.

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If you have some added gardening tips for the procrastinating gardener, feel free to give us your input in the comments section below.

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with a background in farming and an avid home gardener, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between plant biology and gardening for healthy living. For continual updates about plants and health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

References:

Vegetable growing and backyard chickens: Gardening, farming booms during coronavirus pandemicUSA TODAY, April 14, 2020

Seeds in high demand as people try growing their own food during coronavirus pandemicThe News & Observer, April 15, 2020

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