We had big plans for the garden this year. Installing a new border in the front yard, laying new paths, and building raised vegetable beds. Then the coronavirus struck. Michigan, along with the rest of planet earth, is living under a quarantine order. People are dying, hospitals are overwhelmed, and countless people are losing their livelihoods. It’s a scary new world.
The Governor of the State of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, has told the citizens of my state that “if you’re not buying food or medicine or other essential items, you should not be going to the store.” Big stores that offer essential items are now required to close off access to the parts of their stores that sell garden supplies, plants, house paint, and furniture. No matter how much I love gardening, it’s not essential. And those beloved trips to the garden center aren’t going to happen any time soon. Right now, it’s about staying home and staying safe.
The quarantine is changing the way I garden. Honestly, with all the economic uncertainty, I’m not comfortable spending money right now. Rather than looking through catalogs and dreaming about new things to buy, I’m looking around the house to figure out how to re-use what we already have. What plants can be divided up? What seeds can be grown in containers? How can I grow food crops on the patio? I’m noticing the clever ways people are recycling and repurposing everyday items, and it’s inspiring me to do the same.
In the spirit of finding solutions and staying positive, these are the things I’m planning to try now that it’s not business as usual. I’d love to hear how the quarantine is changing the way you garden.
Up-Cycled Soup Cans for Plant Containers
Alison Galer posted a wonderful photograph of rusty tin cans that she upcycled into plant containers. She was inspired by the May 2019 issue of Gardens Illustrated. I love this idea. I started saving soup cans with the hope of transforming them into something similar. I’m especially fond of the rusty finish.
Making Plants from Cuttings
I’ve been looking through the plants I have on hand to figure out if I can take cuttings to make more plants by the time the growing season starts. One plant I think will work well for this experiment is Purple Heart or Tradescantia Pallida. Tradescantia Pallida is great in containers. It has bright purple foliage and tiny pink flowers.
Tradescantia Pallida is easy to propagate by taking stem cuttings and rooting them in a glass of water. Once the roots form, you plant the stems into pots and voila, new plants. I have a large Tradescantia Pallida growing under LED lights that I will use for cuttings.
Divide Perennials to Use in Other Areas of the Garden
Spring is a perfect time to divide perennials. I have several clumps of Shasta daisies that I will divide and replant along the border in the Mary garden. Dividing perennials improves the health of over-crowded plants, and repeating plants along the length of a border provides a sense of unity. This is a perfect way to get more plants for the garden.
Growing Plants from Seeds to Use in Containers
I purchased seeds in January and have several varieties that I’m growing under LED lights in my basement. My original plan was to plant the seedlings into the garden, but now I think I will change things up and use some of the seedlings in containers for the patio.
I think silver sage, honeywort, and purple heart will make a great color scheme in containers. I hope I have enough seedlings to plant out several containers. I will group them into single-specimen pots and combine all three plants into a single container to create an interesting arrangement. I’ll also plant red-leaf hibiscus, kale, and white violas into containers. They will coordinate nicely with the other plants.
There you have it. My plan “B”. The quarantine is changing the way I garden, but I know I will be a better gardener as a result. Stay safe. Stay home. Save lives. Happy gardening!