Get outside and get gardening

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Bearded Iris "Nice and Nifty" is one of many plants blooming now in the garden.
Bearded Iris "Nice and Nifty" is one of many plants blooming now in the garden.
Karen Blume | Special to Wide Awake Wilson

There is no better time to get gardening than right now while we are spending more time at home. Here are some of the top things to do while social distancing.

• If you are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or another social media platform, be sure to like/follow the Wilson Botanical Gardens. While the gardens are closed currently, we have stepped up our videos on “how to” and “garden tours.” You can also go to other public garden pages like Lewis Ginter or Longwood that have also put a lot of pretty pictures and tours online. You get to visit without paying an admission fee.

• Visit N.C, State and other state’s Extension resources. Oregon Extension is offering free online classes, and while the gardening zones (i.e. timing) may be different, the horticulture advice is sound.

• Your local Master Gardeners are also available to help. You can call the Wilson Extension office Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 252-237-0111, and leave a message for the Master Gardener to return your call within 24 hours or send an email to wilsonemgv@hotmail.com.

• If you have never planted a vegetable garden before, now is the time. Start with making a list of what vegetables you and your family enjoy eating. Then determine if you can buy seeds (cucumbers, beans, zucchini, corn) or if you need to buy plants (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant). You can plant in-ground beds, raised beds or even large containers.

Have your children help and make it a science experiment.

• Since we are eating at home more, be sure to compost newspaper, used coffee grounds with filters, vegetable and fruit scraps. If you have already been composting, now is the perfect time to incorporate the compost into your vegetable or other planting beds.

• For older children, pruning can be educational, looking for buds, and angling the correct cut, learning to safely sharpen blades, etc. There are a lot of great videos out there how to tend to your gardening tools.

• Take a daily walk of your property and notice where you would like to incorporate more plants. It is amazing how quickly plants change in the garden. N.C. State has a new plant finder https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/ to help you select plants depending on what your needs are such as native, pollinator, white flowers, height, sun exposure, etc.

They are also looking to add to their photo collection, so if you have awesome plant photos you want to share, send them to the Wilson Master Gardener email, and you will get photo credit.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a green thumb, gardening is fun, but if gardening really isn’t for you, don’t let that stop you from going outside and getting a little sunshine to charge up your vitamin D, eating a meal, or enjoying a cup of coffee. The fresh air from the plants and the sounds of birds will recharge you!

For more gardening information, call the Wilson County Master Gardener Volunteers at 252-237-0111 or email anytime at wilsonemgv@hotmail.com.

Cyndi Lauderdale is horticulture extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension.