In the midst of a pandemic, nothing is the same, but everything is still familiar. We turn our mind box upside down, or perhaps inside out, to make things function in a manner we recognize and feel somewhat comfortable with. Our brains are on pandemic time, busting out of our creative norm to manage an unknown (in our lifetimes) entity. Pandemic time forces us to adjust our parameters personally and as a society.

I choose to view this time as a gift to evaluate what is important to us, our families, our nation and the world. Since I can only change my own actions, I choose to truly enjoy my yard and garden.

It takes years to get a lawn, borders and gardens into the shape you really want them. In the end they really are a continual work in progress, regardless of how much time and effort you have put into them. Winters are spent drooling over new introductions and their colorful pictures in catalogs. Planning where to plant the new introductions is another matter. As I have become more acquainted with my soil conditions, I know I have some limitations.

All soil in the same place is not created equal. Sun or shade? It seems the sun is not enough when everything has fully leafed out in the back, but the front does not have the soil robustness the plant desires. Soil moisture varies widely throughout the property. And so it goes, so many factors to consider when looking at a highly desirable shrub or plant.

I enjoy the planning now that I do not have a tight schedule with many deadlines. I can have fun with it. I can imagine what would happen if I made all good choices. Think of all the expense and work I will save, if I do what is good for the plant, plus the better results and bloom count. Sometimes the desire for a new introduction must be curbed so it's reasonable. No one has it all. You have to choose from what will work in your environment.

This is a good time to clean and sharpen garden hand tools. Look at your garden protective equipment. Do your gloves have holes? Mend them, or toss them and get new ones. How does your garden hat fit? Look? Do you need another one? Buy one that gives shade to your eyes and protection to the skin. If your Crocs have had it, buy new ones. How about your garden wear? Does it need repair? Repair it, or toss and buy new.

Have you plotted your beds and borders lately? Or ever? If you plot them on paper, with their measurements, you will be more knowledgeable in making a purchase of replacement plants, or decorations for the area such as solar lights or statues. If it won’t fit on the paper, it won’t fit in the garden, either.

Plotting goes along with journaling your garden adventure. Do you write down your thoughts, garden purchases, bed plot maps? You should. You will find there is a ton of information that would have been forgotten, if you had not recorded it. When you go back, even a year back, you will be amazed. A special journal is not required, though they make them, just a dedicated place in a notebook or diary that tells of your garden journey. Take pictures, too!

Seed retailers report their seed sales have gone way over the norm this year. Burpee reports they have sold more seed this year than in any year in their 144-year history. Gardening is coming to the rescue for folks who fret, or are frightened a bit, who want something meaningful to fill their time, feed the family and provide exercise and education for children in the process. The yard will look better, you will feel better and the children will be proud of their efforts as well.

Seeds can even be started indoors by young hands. Directions are on every seed pack for planting outside later. Involve the whole family at a level they can participate.

For the first time in many folks' lives, they are really living at home now. Their entertainment, exercise and time with family members are greatly increased. We have fewer meals out on the way to a meeting or sport class and more time at the table together, for meals and games. A slower pace. More time to listen. More time to tell stories. More time to live.

Stay strong and garden on!

Master gardener Fredi Stangland resides in Medina.

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