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Gardening Grows In Popularity Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic

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Nick Passalis
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As the coronavirus pandemic causes food prices to rise and grocers are working hard to keep some items on the shelves, people are thinking about planting their own gardens this spring.

If you haven’t planted one before, there are some things you should know before you get started.

Paul Armstrong, owner of Smiling Sun Gardens in Forsyth, said cold-season crops can be planted now.  Those include things like beets, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, onions and peas.

Warm-season crops have to wait until at least April 15, which is the average date of the last spring frost in much of southern Missouri.  Those include vegetables like beans, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and squash. 

You can start seeds indoors right now in containers with drain holes.  Just make sure they get plenty of light and the seeds and soil surface stay moist.

You can plant them outside either in the ground or in containers.

Once they’re outside, Armstrong said, the plants will tell you what they need.

"As far as like leaf color, it's going to tell you it's deficient in some sort of mineral or needs some fertilization.  If they're wilting too much they're dry," he said.  "Sometimes the wilting of the leaves can also indicate a pest problem as well."

Armstrong encourages first-time gardeners to have patience and not to give up.

"Patience is going to be key," he said.  "You just have to have patience with your plants and just remember that this is, you know, something that you're starting to do for yourself.  It's a really good thing to do for yourself, and you're going to have failures, and you're going to have successes and just be patient."

Armstrong said a great place for first-time gardeners to find information is the University Extension’s website, extension2.missouri.edu.