gardener's hands planting a tomato seedling

Working in your garden is a sure way to practice social distancing.

With the world essentially shut down for the time being, there are very few things left to do.

One of them is to go out and work in the garden, or start one if you haven’t planted before. Even if you don’t have much space available, remember that gardens come in all sizes, and a small plot of land can yield a good quantity of produce.

In this crisis, many people are concerned about the availability of food. Those of us who have pantries stocked with canned vegetable feel a bit more secure and our present situation will likely encourage more people to learn or re-learn to preserve their produce this summer.

Working in your garden is a sure way to deal with social distancing because most people would rather sit in front of the computer or TV than actually perform physical labor. And when the weeds need pulling, only the very determined will be within 6 feet of you doing all that bending and stooping.

There is still plenty of time to get a garden going and even plant some cool-weather crops. In two weeks, you should be able to think about transplanting tomatoes and peppers and other frost-sensitive plants.

And most seed stores are remaining open because many also sell agricultural products, which are essential to our food supply.

No one knows how long this quarantine business will last, so gardening will at least give you something productive to do if the present situation continues all summer.

My early garden is doing well. My peas, beets, onions and kale are up and hopefully my potatoes will be coming through the top of the soil in a couple of weeks. Potatoes are slow and it usually takes about a month for them to come up.

The first 12 cabbage plants I set out didn’t last long. By the second night, a rabbit—maybe the only one in the county (rabbits are scarce in my area) ate the tender plants down to ground level.

This has happened before, so I was prepared. When I replanted, I covered the cabbage with domes of old dog pen wire that I had fashioned years ago. Hopefully this will keep the bunnies and the groundhogs out.

But just as an added precaution, I sprinkled some 40-year-old fox urine around the area and then added a drop or two of coyote urine. That should keep the rabbits at bay.

Dried blood will often work, too, and it is good fertilizer. You can buy bags of it at many seed stores. Coyote and fox urine is a bit harder to come by.

Living in the country offers me more opportunities to get out of the house than many of my city friends have. My garden gets me out of the house during this quarantine and will keep me increasingly busy as the weather warms.

If you’re a hunter, remember that spring gobbler season starts April 11 and continues through May 16, so there’s an opportunity to get into the woods and stay 6 feet away from everyone.

If you don’t have a hunting license, you can get one from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries online. You can also get a fishing license and spend some time down at the river, again away from people.

This would also be a good time to get in the woods and saw down some trees for next winter’s wood supply. The sap hasn’t started rising too much yet, so if you split the wood now, it will cure well before next December.

These are just a few suggestions to get you out of the house during these trying times, but still keep you away from people. Me? I’m going to do all of the above, maybe even get up before daylight and try to call in a gobbler.

The good thing about all these suggestions is that they are productive. You can get food from the garden and you can eat fish and turkey. The wood will keep you warm next winter.

The bad thing about all this is that you can’t grow, shoot or catch toilet paper, which seems to be the item people are most worried about. And if you live in the city, corncobs aren’t an option.

One thing you have to admit: These are interesting times!

Donnie Johnston:

Load comments