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In the Garden: Events are canceled, but there’s still plenty of good to harvest

Growing a garden is a positive outlet for the many gardeners impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)

I know I’m not the only one who has been stunned by the way the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our daily lives. The past three months have been surreal. In addition to disrupting so many of our routines, it has affected gardeners of the Inland Northwest and across the nation.

The most positive impact is the surge of interest in growing edible gardens. I personally am delighted because it’s a skill everyone should have, and the end result is that gardeners get to eat healthy, delicious produce.

Unfortunately, the popularity of gardening has made it challenging to locate garden staples such as seeds, plants and tools. Many suppliers have been overwhelmed with online orders and forced to temporarily close in an effort to catch up.

The good news is that most garden centers are now open, but they do require customers to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. Online seed companies are back in business as well, but some items are either sold out or difficult to obtain.

On a personal level, the stay-home restrictions have changed quite a few of my plans for this year. The majority of my speaking engagements have been canceled. The summertime tour of English gardens that I would have led also was canceled – a painful but sensible decision.

I’ve been shifting the focus of most of my columns to cover what new gardeners need to know to successfully grow vegetables. I feel it’s important to pass along the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years.

Every year, I always enjoy writing about the annual events that gardeners look forward to, but they have been impacted as well.

The Spokane County Master Gardeners’ two premier events – Cabin Fever Gardening Symposium and its Garden Fair & Plant Sale – had to be shelved this year, along with the many helpful classes they conduct each spring.

The hardworking members of the Inland Empire Gardeners have had to postpone their wildly popular Garden Expo – usually on Mother’s Day weekend – to Sept. 5. The group also canceled its Spokane in Bloom garden tour, which normally takes place each year in mid-June.

The Friends of Manito canceled its spring plant sale, which would have been this Saturday. Plant shoppers will be happy to hear the the group still intends to host its fall plant sale on Aug. 29.

The Coeur d’Alene Garden Club has had to cancel its annual garden tour, which was originally scheduled for late July.

While garden tours are always a pleasure to participate in, these cancellations have a larger impact than the disappointment gardeners feel upon learning they won’t take place: The proceeds from the tours benefit local charitable organizations and fund scholarships.

It’s discouraging that events have been canceled this year, but they will be back. The best thing we can do is keep a positive outlook.

For one thing, we gardeners have been devoting a lot of extra attention to our gardens this year, and they are looking better than ever. I fear I’ve turned into a “helicopter gardener” by making frequent trips outdoors each day to see if the plants have grown any taller. And woe be unto any insect pest that dares to munch any of my veggie plants, because I’m going to be on it in a flash.

One thing I repeatedly hear my gardening friends say is “Thank heavens for my garden.” This is so true: Enjoy the peace of your garden and delight in watching things grow.

Contact Susan Mulvihill at Watch this week’s “Everyone Can Grow a Garden” video at youtube. com/c/susansinthegarden.