Children marvel at the miracle of gardening, when they realize they can grow their own food – including but not limited to pumpkins. Look at the delight of this young Langley lad, when he found just the right pumpkin. (Langley Advance Times files)

Children marvel at the miracle of gardening, when they realize they can grow their own food – including but not limited to pumpkins. Look at the delight of this young Langley lad, when he found just the right pumpkin. (Langley Advance Times files)

GREEN THUMB: Prescribing a little gardening therapy

Langley garden expert encourages folks to get out in the garden for a little calm in a chaotic time

By Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times

Every time we turn on the television, the news reports are continually warning about the COVID-19 outbreak.

While this is obviously a very serious issue, we have to remember to find ways to keep ourselves, and our families, calm during this tense time.

I have always believed that gardening is excellent therapy – and now it could not be more relevant.

As a small nursery owner, we have heard from many people during the past couple of weeks.

Due to travel restrictions, many people are choosing to spend those travel dollars at home, especially in the garden where they will obviously be spending more time this year.

Maybe more people will renew their love of gardening, maybe some will discover it, and maybe the rest of us will nod and smile, knowing how therapeutic gardening has always been and how much it can relieve daily stresses – there’s nothing like getting your hands dirty to inspire smiles, just like being a kid again.

In addition to the sheer enjoyment of tending to and watching a garden grow, there are also many practical sides. If you have never grown your own vegetables, maybe this year is a good time to start. Beginners usually have great success with potatoes, radishes, carrots, beans and beets.

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If you have children, get them involved and grow pumpkins.

You can select many kinds of pumpkins to spark the kids interest, all the way from the baby white ones to the Atlantic giants! If the kids are at home for an extended period of time and the weather permits, get them out there working in the soil, preparing it for planting and have them do the tending of the veggies and pumpkins – it’s amazing how interested they will be once they see plants start to grow.

The added bonus of growing your own vegetables is also creating an additional food source for your family – it’s a win-win all around.

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My grandchildren also grew lilies last year as now is the perfect time, to plant the bulbs. They watched those shoots come up and grow every day, and I cannot tell you the joy on those faces when they saw blooms later in the summer – priceless.

With ‘social distancing’ being the norm for this season, choose places to visit with small numbers of people. Many local businesses are all anxious to help you – local farms, markets, and small growers who offer excellent produce and products but are operating outdoors in the fresh air where it is easy to stay away from others.

Other businesses may be offering mail order for seeds, etc – utilize that service.

Spring is upon us and this is normally the most enjoyable time of year for gardeners.

Let’s continue to be calm, enjoy our gardens and teach our children the value that gardening has to uplift our spirits, give us more time together as a family and reaffirm our sense of security.

And look on the bright side – when the kids have played in the dirt all day outside, you will have no problem getting them to wash their hands.

– Pam Erikson is owner of Erikson’s Daylily Gardens and Perennials and president of the Langley Garden Club

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