Field of Science

Gardening in a time of plague

TPP considers himself essential to his garden especially now during the spring cleanup season.  So many leaves that it makes you wonder if any got cleaned up last fall. The dead aerial shoots of herbaceous perennials acted rather like a snow fence and gathered the leaves quite handily but now both the dead shoots and the leaves they captured must be removed to free up the perennial portions to grow. The trick is to figure out how much some plants died back.  Some don't die back at all, Some lose a branch here or there.  And it was a mild winter, so die back may be limited, or even puzzling like our Korean azaleas that were well budded but only a few flowers survived to open this past week.  What killed all the rest?  No idea.  The plants are OK and leafing out normally, must have been the late fall that did not allow buds to form as usual.  But all of our other hardy azaleas seem to be just fine.  For the most part self-quarantined gardening is keeping us safe from contact with infected people, and TPP just heard that in Illinois garden centers are considered essential during May, and of course they are.  Some may ask, "who was that masked man?".  And what kind of tomatoes did he decide to plant?  BYW here in the upper Midwest the weather is still too unsettled and cold for tropical garden plants.  Rule: are the nighttime temperatures above 50 F?  If not hold off on those tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, and squash.  Go ahead and plant some peas and carrots, they will do fine in the cooler weather.  Now how are the garden shops going to handle the social distancing that still remains necessary?  No virus with those tomato plants, please.  It is clear here in Lincolnland that life is not and cannot return to normal yet, or anytime in the near future.  Now who delivers tequila?  TPP has gardening to do and must have the essentials.

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