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Online gardening activities

We are all at home looking for things to do while we wait out this virus. There are a few gardening things that you can do in your own home to bring a little spring in and help us all with an activity that is positive. I want to lead parents to the Minnesota Extension webpages, not only for gardening but for the 4-H program as well. There are activities being posted from 4-H for kids to do at home and the Extension has all sorts of information on so many things — many of which are videos to watch.

For adults, this also includes tips on canning or preserving and even drying, which can come in handy once our growing season really gets “growing.” There is also lots and lots of information on gardening on the webpage as well. We can still continue to learn while at home and who knows? You might find something new that you want to try this year.

I am often thinking about what I want to do in the garden and looking for good gardening deals online or even thinking about what I have in the garden right now. There are always new plants coming out that are very interesting and often I think about how fun it will be to have this plant or that plant. We just need to remember if you are looking for new perennials that we are in zone 4 in southwestern Minnesota. There are places here and there that have what we call microclimates. These places are often able to go to a zone 5 but it is risky and sometimes those plants may not make it through an “open” winter or a very cold winter. They certainly will need a little extra TLC with extra mulch in the winter to keep it over. Generally speaking, perennials work well for this but trees, especially fruit trees or anything else that you would have a hard time mulching, might not make it. If you have not started your seeds yet, there are many that can be started now. I think that most flowers can wait until mid-April to be started because we can’t really plant them out until mid-May due to frost concerns. We can get our seeds and planting items ready to go and make sure they are clean. If seed starting equipment is not properly cleaned with good soap and water, you may find that your seedlings can fall victim to damping off disease which is a fungal disease of started seeds.

We can also work on getting our tools ready to go and cleaning up our flowerpots so that when planting time is upon us, we can just roll with it quickly to add flowers into our flowerpots. I would hazard to guess that many of we gardeners have different kinds of tools that need to be cleaned up or sharpened.

And last but not least, there is always pruning. This is the time to tackle that big job. If you have a plant that flowers in the spring, wait to prune it until after it flowers. If it flowers later in the year, prune it now and also prune any broken branches. Oak trees can be pruned now but this will be the last week for them. Gardeners will have to wait until August to prune them again and this is because of disease issues. There are some great videos on pruning trees and shrubs on the U of M Extension webpage. A really good one for apple trees can be found at https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/pruning-trees-and-shrubs#how-to-prune-apple-trees-videos-1335962.

For more information on garden or to learn more about how to become a Master Gardener, please go to the U of M Extension website or the Lyon County Master Gardener’s Facebook page. Please feel free to email me at s.dejaeghere@me.com

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