Oh, how I miss rambling through garden centers. Looking for treasures and talking with the staff — it’s what we gardeners do in the spring. It’s how we learn and share information. But this spring is different.
I admit to recently dashing into Green’s Feed & Seed to buy onion sets and early vegetable seeds. It felt great to dig in the soil. I want more of it and I’m struggling to know how that works, and how I protect my health and the health of others while doing what I love.
Local growers, vendors and business owners are thinking about this, too — thinking about how can they provide a safe environment for those of us longing to begin our spring planting.
Susan Bryant, general manager of Valley Gardens, has put measures in place to meet government guidelines. They are limiting traffic to just 10 customers at a time on their lot, with only one at a time in their hoop houses and inside the store to ensure social distancing. Staff is disinfecting shopping carts after each use and offering curbside pickup. If you prefer to shop from home, you can call the center and arrange for your order to be delivered.
Valley Gardens is just one of the places offering delivery. Social media posts from several local vendors show offers of delivery and websites with pictures of what is available to purchase. Often, it’s more than just plants — they have mulch, fertilizers and even some pots available. If you have a favorite spot to shop, it’s worth a phone call to see what services they are offering.
Gritt’s Farm is delivering gardens to-go. Maggie Parsons, the agritourism and marketing director for Gritt’s Farm, said they will bring flower baskets, vegetable container gardens and everything needed directly to you, so that all you have to do is plant and nurture them. She added the farm is open and spacious, and also has curbside pickup.
The outdoor farmers’ market at Capitol Market opened last week with temporary restrictions in place to ensure the safety of vendors and customers.
Still a little timid about visiting a local shop or stepping out in public? I get it. And as much as I support shopping local, this might be the year to try ordering from a reputable catalog. Johnny’s Select Seeds and Prairie Moon Nursery are two worth checking out.
When straightening up my potting area one afternoon, I found seed packets from last year. I have started them in small containers and with any luck, I might have a few flowering annuals ready to set out after the first frost.
In the past, I’ve had good luck with tomato seeds. I remember one year I nursed them along for weeks on my kitchen counter, they grew and I was quite proud of myself as I transferred them into the garden.
When I think about planning my garden and where the plants will come from, I don’t have a solid answer this year. I’m guessing it will be a combination of all the above.
During these past few weeks, I have been very careful about when and how I approach public spaces, and for me I think the caution will continue. Yet I yearn for the routine of planting my garden and adding color to my doorstep and window planters.