Highline College

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Grow some love with gardening during quarantine

Della Verdi Staff Reporter May 07

Local gardening experts say anyone can have a garden, and it’s just the kind of thing that might help you get through the coronavirus quarantine.

Michaele Blakely has had her farm business since 1989. She raises goats for milk and sells starter plants, such as vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

“Early season vegetable starts are moving fast,” Blakely said. “Since most of my sales are at the farmers markets this has hit very hard. I've now gone six weeks with very little income.”

While under lockdown, most farmer’s markets have closed to the public in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Blakely has been struggling to sell her plants widely because of this.

“Farmers are not able to apply for the SBA loans or grants, nor are they able to apply for unemployment as they are self-employed,” Blakely said.

Although these closures have made her business shaky, Blakely is still able to sell her plants from home. Starter plants are already sprouting, which makes growing plants easier and perfect for beginners in gardening.

“Growing plants is like baking bread. Attention to detail is key,” Blakely said. “Reading up on it is key and YouTube should provide a wealth of information for people.”

Although growing plants might be new for some people, it can definitely be a mood booster.

“Hard to explain but it always calms me,” Blakely said. “Gardening is a soothing activity and I firmly believe you get some strength from the soil itself.”

Gina Grubb is a horticulture teacher at Auburn Mountainview High School, and another gardening lover. She said she fell in love with horticulture as a career in college and has been at it for 35 years.

“The usual big annual seeds are always the easiest to grow: squash, peas, beans, zinnia, sunflower,” Grubb said. “Once you understand the seed/seedling needs, most things are easy from seed.”

Most of the plants and seeds Grubb mentioned can be found at local stores and nurseries.

“The hardest plants to grow are those that are not suited to your growing region,” Grubb said. “It’s not impossible, it just takes a lot of knowledge and care to get them to flower or fruit.”

Plants also bring comfort and joy, Grubb said. “They sustain us emotionally, mentally, and physically.”

“There is the tending, seeing progress, seeing beauty, and tasting flavor,” Grubb said.

Planting and caring for seedlings can be a fun, calming hobby to take on amid a pandemic. Grubb finds her place to meditate in the garden.

“Watering, weeding, planting, gardening. It’s my best thinking space too,” Grubb said. “These activities can also be work, but not when you attune to the beauty and sounds of nature.”

Plants can also result in food if they are cared for properly, resulting in satisfaction. Grubb said she especially enjoys finding new seeds to experiment with.

“Start with favorite veggies and then branch to new stuff,” Grubb said. “For fruits, stick with small fruits. They will produce within the first few years.”

Gardening can help relieve stress and occupy the mind. Grubb and Blakely both say find peace while gardening and strive to inspire others to take on the gardening hobby alongside them.