How Horticulturists Turn Quarantine Into ‘Gardentine’

While it seems that everything in our world is different today than it was two months ago, one thing hasn’t changed — nature! Maryland’s stay-at-home order has given everyone the opportunity to explore their natural surroundings and given them the itch to garden to relieve tension and do something productive.

So what do University of Maryland Extension horticulturists do to stay grounded during ‘gardentine?’ Just like you, we take pictures of our flowers, gardening projects, and all things nature and send them to each other, natch!

Stephanie got us started by wishing us a happy Earth Day!

horticultural distancing is not a thing

Stephanie and I went on a socially distant walk, participating in the City Nature Challenge iNaturalist project for the Baltimore area. Here are a few of the 53 species we identified for the project. Not too shabby!

Scroll over or click on the images to see the plant names.

One of my neighbors really upped the game by providing informational signs along the sidewalk for everyone’s enjoyment! Thanks, Kathy!

Christa started her “Sketches from the Yard” journal on the 10th day of quarantine. She says drawing, painting, and writing about her observations around the yard and garden is a creative thing she can do at home and is something that helps her relax during these strange times.

“When I look at the details of a plant and try to document it, it gets my mind off the coronavirus news for a while and helps me focus on what is still normal and beautiful around me. I have appreciated my garden harvests of fresh greens, herbs, and even a few carrots that survived our mild winter. And the new tulips I planted last fall were delightful to see in bloom! At the end of this project, I will have a record of my garden and how meaningful it was to me as a place of serenity during this quarantine time.”

She is quite the garden journalist! You can follow her on Instagram @mrscarignan.

Debbie is growing microgreens in a salad box on her balcony.

microgreens in a salad box

Half of the box is arugula and half is lettuce that has just started to germinate. Proving that you don’t need a lot of space to grow some of your own food! Photo: D. Ricigliano

salad box

This is what a salad box can look like when it’s ready for the first harvest. Yes, you can get multiple harvests from salad greens. Photo: HGIC

Miri has quite the impressive indoor garden! The ridiculous volume of houseplants keeps her sane! (Her words, not mine!) Maybe Miri will write a blog post featuring her various mini orchids and Tillandsias and include the routine she uses to keep them all so happy! (Hint hint!) She also entertains herself by secretly diagnosing plant problems on walks through the neighborhood. No photo evidence of that here!

Marian is helping her daughter plant a salad box from a distance by sharing the Home & Garden Information Center’s salad box instructions. See how you can build and plant a salad box or a salad table too!

salad table

I can see that Marian is also using a floating row cover to protect those seedlings from frost and/or marauding squirrels and chipmunks! Photo: M. Hengemihle

Jon has a huge and very productive garden every year! He always gets his garlic planted in the fall.

garlic

This spring the garlic tips have turned yellow either from the cold or the beginning of his perennial problems with white rot and bulb mites. Oh no! Photo: J. Traunfeld

Jon also grows his own seedlings every year and generously supplies the office with baby plants! Thanks, Jon!

growing transplants on a light stand

Here is Jon’s light stand setup. He’s growing downy mildew resistant ‘Prospera’ basil, many varieties of pepper, tomato, eggplant, zinnia, and tithonia. Photo: J. Traunfeld

Wanda enjoys tending her orchids indoors.

orchids indoors

She soaks them in a container of water for about 10 minutes every 2 weeks in the winter and once a week when it gets warm. Photo: W. MacLachlan

Wanda has lovely gardens outdoors too.

raised beds

Here she and her husband are revamping their raised garden beds in an attempt to exclude deer, raccoons, groundhogs, rabbits and (fingers crossed) chipmunks! When finished, these 3 raised beds will be in a closed cage. Stay tuned for a progress report! Note from Wanda: The dark piles in the 2 beds are castings from her indoor vermicomposting project. Wow! Photo: W. MacLachlan

Jean has a passion for pink and her houseplants prove it!

plants on a windowsill

Luckily, she has a south-facing window so she gets a lot of light. For the succulents, she mixes potting soil with some perlite and avoids overwatering. High sun exposure and good drainage is key to her healthy and happy houseplants! Photo: J. Burchfield

Ria – I sheltered in place for part of the last 6 weeks at the home where I grew up in Virginia. I went on several walks taking photos of things in bloom, but I needed to get my hands in the dirt! I had assured Jon in February that I was absolutely not going to create another garden to manage there. He had a good laugh when he saw the photos of my new garden! So much for my resolve, I needed to garden!

For the last 40 years, only daffodils and a perennial hibiscus have grown in the small triangle of space bordered by the split rail fencing, if you don’t count that sneaky Bermuda grass. If you look closely, you might be able to see the pomegranate that I got in Colonial Williamsburg about 5 years ago. It has never even bloomed, let alone produced fruit!

bare ground new garden

To create the new 24’ x 12’ kitchen garden, I killed the grass (mostly Bermuda grass and various other weeds), spread thick layers of newspaper over the area and covered it with soil that had been excavated to install French drains. Photo: R. Malloy

add organic matter to a garden

Then I spread ten bags (2 cu. ft. each) of media labeled for raised beds in 3 rows each about 2.5’ wide, leaving room for a path between each row. I mulched between the rows and around the perimeter of the garden with wood chips from 3 tree stumps that we ground up last summer. I made sure not to incorporate the wood chips into the soil with the plants. Photo: R. Malloy

planting a new garden

I planted a variety of herbs, sweet cherry and grape tomatoes, salad greens, and flowers to attract pollinators. Photo: R. Malloy

new garden

My husband extended the split rail border. I surrounded the garden with green plastic covered wire mesh fencing to deter the rabbits and groundhogs. I am under no illusions that it will really prevent them from getting in! At some point I will need to add a solar powered electric fence like the one I have in Maryland. Photo: R. Malloy

Please join us by taking time each day to connect in some way with nature and stay grounded during ‘gardentine’ and beyond!

By Ria Malloy, Program Coordinator, Home & Garden Information Center, University of Maryland Extension

3 Comments on “How Horticulturists Turn Quarantine Into ‘Gardentine’

  1. Pingback: May 2020 Garden Tips | Mill Creek Towne Garden Club

  2. Nice job Ria, and fun to see what others are doing creatively and horticulturally.

    Like

  3. Pingback: June 2020 Garden Tips | Mill Creek Towne Garden Club

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