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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Tuesday, April 7, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Inland Northwest events, planting plans altered by pandemic, but home gardening still a go

The Inland Empire Gardeners’ annual Garden Expo at the Spokane Community College Lair in May 2020 has been postponed until Sept. 5 in an effort to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)
The Inland Empire Gardeners’ annual Garden Expo at the Spokane Community College Lair in May 2020 has been postponed until Sept. 5 in an effort to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)

These are strange times to say the least. But the good news is we can go outside and enjoy the fresh air if we practice proper social distancing.

It also means we can still garden. Social distancing still applies, and we shouldn’t share tools. If you do, wipe handles down with an appropriate sanitizer. If you are in a community garden, talk to your garden leadership about their requirements.

The virus has altered the schedules for many local gardening events.

The WSU Spokane County Master Plant Clinic has physically closed to the public but is available for questions by phone or email. Call (509) 477-2181 or email to mgardener@spokanecounty.org. The Master Gardener website also has a lot of free informational fact sheets you can download at extension.wsu.edu.

There have been changes to several garden events for the spring.

The Spokane County Master Gardeners Garden Fair and Plant Sale on April 25 has been canceled. The Inland Empire Gardeners has postponed the Garden Expo in May to Sept. 5.

The Spokane Conservation District has announced new pickup instructions for its annual plant sale April 4-5. If you ordered plants, the district staff will call you with a pickup time to retrieve your order. There will be no surplus plants for sale this year.

There will undoubtedly be more changes for other events so check with the event organizers directly.

Now the question becomes how do we get our gardening supplies?

Right now, retail stores and nurseries are still open so we can still shop for plants and supplies. Each store or nursery will have its own guidelines while you are shopping. Northwest Seed and Pet has a website you can order supplies through nwseed.com. However, they don’t offer their seeds, vegetable and fruit plants, potatoes or onions on the website. If stores get shut down, then we will have to do our shopping online.

Which brings up another emerging challenge. Everybody is already planning ahead. Online seed suppliers are experiencing such high demand for products that delivery times are slowed, and a lot of stock is on back order. Territorial Seed in Cottage Grove, Oregon, has hired local workers laid off from other businesses to start a second shift to pack and ship orders.

This would be a good spring to involve your children in gardening and tie it to the things they are learning at school. You could have them journal about their garden (reading and writing) about how a plant grows (science and observation skills), measuring to plant seeds (math and fractions) and harvesting (cooking skills). Plant a salsa or pizza garden that includes tomatoes, peppers, basil, onions and herbs. When the crops get ripe have the children help prepare the food.

If you don’t have the inclination or space to grow a garden, sign up for a community-supported agriculture box of vegetables from a local farmer. Many of our local farmers sell to restaurants that are now not buying and could use your help. Google “CSAs Spokane” for a list of farms offering a box of fresh vegetables every week.

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