With many people finding themselves out of work and told to stay home except maybe to get groceries, and perhaps not wanting to venture even to the store where they may find empty shelves, it may be time to plant a garden.
“We’re at a unique time,” said Brian Wente, who has been a grower at David’s Greenhouses almost a year. “We have time on our hands. It’s a great time to learn a new skill set.”
Besides tasty produce, tending a garden provides a person exercise, fresh air and sunshine, according to David Peirson, who has owned David’s Greenhouses 52 years, the last 42 with his wife, Liane. The two met while majoring in horticulture at Ohio State University.
Located east of Christiansburg at 12184 Christiansburg-Jackson Road, the business offers everything a person needs to plant a vegetable garden, as well as a flower garden.
David’s also offers advice.
“I answer questions all day long,” Peirson said. “If you want to ask, I’ll be glad to help … and we have pamphlets on how to plant, how much seed you need. We have lots of guides here.”
Business hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with extended hours in April and May and Sunday hours in May. Reach the business at 937-857-9810 or email@example.com
Wente recommends having a plan before starting a garden project and getting expert advice to form that plan.
“There’s a million ways to grow a garden,” he said, adding sage advice is needed to determine the best way for each person and for each garden spot.
“Learn from the experts,” he said, suggesting seeking advice from people who have or have had successful gardens.
Peirson said that advice could come from a grandparent.
“I had a neighbor lady who was like a grandmother to me. She taught me to garden,” he said.
“My grandfather did this kind of work,” Peirson added. While his father went into the banking business, Peirson opted for his grandfather’s profession and decided to study greenhouse management.
Besides getting advice from a business like David’s Greenhouses or from gardening individuals, Peirson said another good resource is the Master Gardeners, a program of OSU Extension.
Amanda Douridas, Champaign County Extension’s ag and natural resources educator, said the Master Gardeners typically present spring and fall programs and are available for advice once a week at the Community Gardens on East Market Street. COVID-19 has all that on hold.
Instead of presenting her “Busy People Can Garden Too” in person as planned, Douridas will do a 6 p.m. April 8 webinar on the topic. She said it should be helpful to both novices and seasoned gardeners.
People can register now for the webinar at https://go.osu.edu/BhcJ
Douridas said The Master Gardener Helpline at the Extension office (937-484-1526) will open the week after Memorial Day. And, if the office re-opens by then, people can take in garden samples and leave them for Master Gardeners to examine and provide advice.
She said another info source is ohioline.osu.edu
Douridas agreed this is a good time to start a garden since many people are staying at home.
“I love it,” she said of gardening. “It’s good to learn where your food comes from. One of the benefits is having the freshest produce right outside your door. People who haven’t gardened before will be surprised about the taste difference. And, you can buy varieties you can’t buy in grocery stores.”
Douridas and Peirson noted gardening can become a great family affair.
“He’ll eat anything out of the garden,” Douridas said of her 3-year-old son. He eats asparagus in the garden, but on a plate? “He wouldn’t touch it,” she said.
“Gardening is a great way to get kids to eat vegetables, especially if they’re out there helping you,” she said. “They find it exciting to try stuff they’ve grown.”
“It’s something nice you can do with your family,” Peirson said. “Little children enjoy planting something and watching it grow. It creates good memories for your family.”
Of children collecting strawberries from David’s Greenhouses’ gardens, he said, “Sometimes they eat more than they put in the basket.”
“Some of the most tasty strawberries in Ohio don’t have a good shelf life,” Douridas said, adding that’s why the best-tasting strawberries and other produce come from local gardens.
Asked about growing veggies indoors, she said this works with some plants, such as herbs and microgreens. She said people interested in learning about microgreens can visit the PennState Extension website https://extension.psu.edu/growing-microgreens (or https://bit.ly/3aivN8a). That website defines microgreens as “edible plants harvested when they are young and small, at about 1.5 to 3 inches tall.”
She said local farmers markets can be a good source for plants. Other sources for seeds, plants and gardening items, she said, are garden businesses, hardware stores, feed stores and online options.
The Community Gardens offers those with no gardening space of their own the opportunity to tend their plants at the East Market Street site. If interested in seeing whether space is available, contact Douridas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-342-3829.
Helping one another
“I think community gardens will be a good thing after the dust settles,” Wente said, adding that many people need help right now and that one way to help is for individuals and groups to plant gardens with the idea of sharing their bounty.
As for the spring growing season, Peirson said, “Pray for a decent spring. We don’t need it real wet. We just need lots of sunshine.”
Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331, ext. 1773.