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Back to gardening
Extra time at home means a chance to try your hand at gardening (Photo by Bonnie Jones Lee).


Stanislaus County Master Gardener


The other day I was thinking that with so many people unable to work because of businesses forced to close, children with no school or day care, and those “self-quarantining” for health reasons, maybe this would be a good time for you to try gardening.

In most cases plants are forgiving, will not lecture you, give away any of your secrets, request money nor the car keys. Those plants in your yard, patio or on the balcony might just need a little love and right now you have the time.

If you are fortunate to have some land around your home perhaps this would not only give you other options of things to do while at home but make your world more attractive and interesting. Wander round your space and reacquaint yourself to what is planted there. This might be a good time to weed, trim, or remove shrubs or plants that are no longer looking their best. Perhaps checking the irrigation system or planning some changes that you might like to make to your outside environment.

At this point all the health experts are telling us that spending time outside is good for us if you are healthy and if we do not congregate with those not in our immediate living situation. Including young people in the exploration of your garden/yard is a wonderful way to talk to them in a relaxed setting and listen to their fears, interests, and frustrations. If there are no young people in your home, then this might be a perfect time for a solo garden experience.

You could review those things you wished you had said or practice what you will say to friends, co-workers, or someone who you find interesting. I find that I can solve all the problems of the world, of my family, and make lots of plans while pulling weeds. Most of the time my heated solo discussions make my garden cleaning speed along.

You could invite that person who shares your home to join you outside in your gardening area to keep you company while you work. A change in routine and space can sometimes produce surprising results. Sharing this time might make communication easier and perhaps alleviate some fears and anxieties.

Getting away from all those screens and looking at something besides the inside of your home could be beneficial to your mental wellbeing. If you have a patio or balcony you can still garden and have the benefits of exercise, stress reduction, beautification, education, and possibly a food source.

Children are especially excited when the seeds they plant in containers begin to sprout little green leaves. You might already have some containers that can be used for your small space garden.

Or consider the next time you make that trip to purchase home supplies at a grocery or variety store you add a container, some soil, and a package or two of seeds. It is amazing how your gardening experiment will be interesting, challenging, and have the bonus of the “I did this” factor for adults as well as for young people.

Although some resources have been curtailed the internet has many sites that can give you gardening advice. Another source is the UCCE Master Gardeners of Stanislaus County. Master Gardeners are volunteers who have completed a rigorous course of classes and would welcome your questions, offer free advice, and encouragement. You can contact us by phone or internet at (209) 525-6802 or  

Adding gardening and outside time to your schedule might help with some of the long and possibly boring days ahead. None of us want to be “stuck” in our homes but expanding our horizons to a little beyond the four walls just might make this time more interesting for you and give you some new skills and interests.

I hope you will join me online to learn how to grow spring vegetables in containers on our new YouTube Channel at