In these tough times, we can always garden

Photo Provided

Roma and Celebrity tomatoes are both good varieties for Oklahoma.

We are going through a challenging time. Most of us are in our homes, either teleworking or not working, and our children are most likely home with us.

We have an unexpected gift of time on our hands -- no theaters, restaurants, theme parks or shopping malls. We can make use of this gift by doing a variety of things: spring cleaning, decluttering, sorting through files in the desk or on the computer, catching up on correspondence … and we can garden.

We have an opportunity to spend time with our landscapes, communing with nature, and marveling at the beauty the we see as spring arrives.

Why not use this time to plan a new raised bed? In a raised bed, you can control the soil structure, pH and fertilizer nutrient levels. They are great for areas with poorly drained or tight clay soil, because you can add soil purchased or composted and create a great environment in which to grow your veggies.

Other benefits are that you can grow vegetables in a smaller space, and it is easier to water and harvest raised beds.

You can also choose varieties of vegetables and flowers you want to grow in your garden this year. There are many exciting new varieties to grow this upcoming season, and now is the time to purchase your seeds and check out what is available from nurseries online. It's not too late is start seeds, if you create the right environment for them.

Plastic containers, empty 2-liter soda bottles, and even an old hanging basket will work very well. Egg cartons make great transplant containers, or try ice cream cones -- the cup kind, not the sugar cones. Fill them with soil, plant your seeds or plants and set them out in the garden at the right time. The cone will disintegrate, and the plant will have a good start in its development.

You can spend time with your perennials as they come up for the season. Check them for disease, weed around them, feed them, and talk to them. If you have fruit trees, they will soon be blooming and developing fruit for the season.

Enjoy their beauty and fragrance, and anticipate the lovely peaches, pears or plums, etc. that you will harvest in a few weeks. Creeping phlox, Japanese kerria, forsythia, daffodils, tulips and irises are blooming now or will be soon. The bounty of nature and the beauty of spring are all around us. Spend time enjoying your yard.

This is the time to plan your vegetables for the season. It is too early to plant tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and peppers, because the soil is not warm enough, and we still have a chance for a freeze up until early to mid-April.

But you can look at catalogs and online to see what varieties are available and then decide which ones you want to plant. Planning is extremely important in order to have the garden you desire.

Many of you were planning to obtain plants from the Cleveland County Master Gardener Association Garden Party and Plant Sale, scheduled for April 18. Unfortunately, due to our current situation, the party and sale must be postponed. At present, Master Gardeners plan to host their well-attended annual Garden Party in the fall.

Stay tuned for further information about the fall date, children's activities, and gardening demonstrations by checking the Cleveland County Master Gardener Association's Facebook page and website, clevelandcountymastergardeners.org.

In the coming weeks, we will explore alternate ways to bring our plant sale to the public that maximizes public health and keeps in time with Oklahoma planting schedules.

Gardening is an effective stress relief during difficult times and we want you to have access to our high quality, locally propagated plant materials. Stay tuned by checking our Facebook page and website for specific information, and I will provide an update in my weekly articles as we have more information.

In the meantime, use this gift of time to visit your garden and enjoy nature at its finest.

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