The coronavirus has many of us cornered in our homes, locked down, sheltering in place and/or social distancing. Many states, and in some others states each county or city, has a different order or suggestion for how to stay healthy and safe during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
As I write this, Vermont is basically on lock down. Schools are all closed for the rest of the year, and children and their parents are struggling with home schooling and working from home. They are striving to stay patient, tolerant and sane. For the lucky many who have sunny windows and a plot of land for gardening, the promise of spring, and growing and tending vegetables and flowers, can provide a special kind of solace and hope.
We still have access to online seed and plant outlets such as my old favorites Burpee Seeds and Gardeners Supply, and to “essential” businesses like grocery and hardware stores that may offer an assortment of gardening necessities. Constant hand washing, staying six feet apart, and avoiding busy times and places will help protect us from infection while shopping for our garden tools and seeds. If not already done, now is the time to start seedlings, or to repot ones already getting too big for the original pots. It is plenty warm in many states to plant in the ground outside, or inside a cold frame. At the very least, the sunny window sill could be filled with fresh basil, parsley and other herbs plus started seed trays and flowers.
One of Lyman Wood’s favorite phrases was “the joy of gardening.” Garden Way’s book titles, ad headlines and body copy often included that phrase. Bestselling books in the 1980s included Garden Way’s Joy of Gardening by Dick Raymond, still available from Storey Publishing and amazon.com. Dick was what we liked to call the “garden guru” at Garden Way, where for 15 years he shared his wealth of vegetable garden know-how about everything from starting plants, preparing the soil, planting, growing and harvesting vegetables. Hundreds of people flocked to his gardening classes in Vermont and elsewhere, and many more watched his TV show of the same name, walking away with dreams of luscious tomatoes, crisp green peas and tender corn on the cob.
Dick was also involved in starting the first community gardens in Burlington, Vermont, that led to the creation of the non-profit Gardens For All, Lyman’s proudest accomplishment with Garden Way. Now, in a time of stress and economic hardship for many, the joy of community gardening could become as important as it did during the Victory Garden era after the World Wars, and during the oil crisis of the 1970s. I recommend reading a recent “What Ceres Might Say” blog written by “Old Vermonter,” titled “Home Gardens…Can They Help Address Morale and Isolation Issues During the Coronavirus…Like Victory Gardens of the Past?” It traces the history of the community garden movement in the United States, including the role of Gardens For All and Lyman Wood.
Especially for the parents reading this, desperate for more fun things to do to keep the kids busy, I suggest checking out the garden related activities on the Kidsgardening.org website. Kidsgardening.org is the successor organization to Gardens For All. And to learn more about Lyman, Dick, Garden Way and Gardens For All, be sure to read What a Way to Live and Make a Living, The Lyman P. Wood Story.
Stay healthy and joyful during this difficult time,
March 28, 2020