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How to Garden Your Way Through the Coronavirus Pandemic

Brent Warren Brent Warren How to Garden Your Way Through the Coronavirus Pandemic
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Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.

Growing flowers or vegetables in a backyard garden, apartment balcony or windowsill is a rewarding and stress-relieving hobby for many people even in normal times. But with COVID-19 spreading across the country – and the resulting “Stay at Home” orders, closure of businesses, and overall upheaval of just about every aspect of our lives – many more are turning to gardening as they search out fun and socially-distant activities that can be done from home.

Whether your goal is to grow a Coronavirus victory garden, or just to reap the therapeutic rewards of getting your hands dirty and growing something new and beautiful, see below for some basic info on getting started.

Included is a list of online resources for those who are new to the gardening world, as well as the latest on the COVID-19-related policies of some of our local garden centers and stores.

Resources

In Ohio, we are just at the beginning of the gardening season (so in that one, specific way, the timing of this pandemic has actually been pretty good). That means that you still have time to start your own tomato seeds indoors and get them into the ground around the “last frost date,” which in Columbus is in early May. It also means that now is a fine time to plant hardier species outside, like bushes and trees, as well as cold-tolerant vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, or peas.

The Ohio State Extension has a large, searchable archive of fact sheets, and offers a service called “Ask a Master Gardener.” Extension educators have also been posting new videos, tutorials and articles on the Growing Franklin website.

Columbus-based Local Matters has started posting virtual gardening classes on its Facebook page and the Franklin Park Conservatory has many high-quality videos available on its website.

You can find plenty of lists and planting calendars online; this one from the National Gardening Association is customizable by zip code.

There are also lots of gardening-related Facebook groups, including many that are specific to Columbus or Ohio: the Our Ohio Gardening group is a service of the Ohio Farm Bureau, while the Central Ohio Gardening Group and the Columbus Organic Gardening Forum are both full of knowledgable locals.

Local Garden Centers and Stores

Most of the places where you can buy seeds, seedlings, soil, mulch and other gardening items in Columbus are still open – they fall under the essential businesses category of the state’s Stay at Home order – but many have changed their hours and have set up different procedures for safely serving the public. Nearly all of the garden centers, nurseries and greenhouses in the area are offering curbside pickup and delivery options, and most appear to be implementing a credit-card only rule for purchases. Read on for information about some of the local options, but be sure to call or check the business’ website or social media accounts for the latest information.

Oakland Nursery’s four Columbus-area locations are open with reduced hours (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Outdoor cash registers in the open-air Garden Centers will remain available for checkout. Call or order online for curbside or in-store pickup. Delivery of certain items is available for a fee.

The area’s six Strader’s Garden Centers are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The number of customers in a store at one time is being limited, per CDC guidelines, and curbside pickup and front door service is being offered. As for what is currently available, Strader’s website says: “we have cold crop vegetable plants, herbs, potted fruit plants, fruit trees, onion sets, seed potatoes, asparagus roots and vegetable garden seeds.”

DeMonye’s Greenhouse is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily for the general public, and from 8 to 9 a.m. exclusively for older adults and those with underlying chronic medical conditions. Curbside pickup is available.

Dill’s Greenhouse in Groveport is also offering senior-only shopping for its first hour of operations each day.

City Folk’s Farm Shop in Clintonville is open from from Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The shop has posted an online order form for pickup and delivery.

Groovy Plants Ranch in Marengo is offering private shopping by appointment in addition to curbside pickup.

Baker’s Acres Greenhouse near Johnstown is closed for in-person shopping, but is still taking orders for curbside pickup and delivery.

For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

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