Gardening with Evelyn: Things to do in the garden during ‘stay at home’

Evelyn Weidner

Several months of “stay at home” brought the challenge of what do you do with all that extra time? You can clean up the garage or you can work in your garden. Now your vegetables and flowers are growing like crazy! More than you can possibly eat. Here are tips, ideas and a bit of humor.

First the popular tomatoes: You may already know all this but just in case: If your tomatoes are growing big and tall be sure to keep them staked or in a cage. We are fighting a virus and your tomatoes can get a virus too. Keep the foliage off the ground. Watch out for branches that get weird looking or start to die. Remove anything like that and clean your clippers between cuts. All those wonderful vegetables are ready for harvest. Enjoy those sweet 100 grape tomatoes plus peppers, eggplants, squash and those wonderful green beans. So good! Watch for caterpillars like the tomato hornworm. Big fat caterpillars that are green and black with a spike in the tail that looks like a stinger but isn’t. Tomato hornworms can devour your tomato plants overnight. Look above the black droppings to find them. For all your other veggies look for those little green looper caterpillars. They are already munching away on most of your veggies.

To kill any of those caterpillars use a spray with either Bt or spinosad. Both are non-toxic and will do the job. It takes a day or two so don’t expect them to curl up and die in an hour. Hint: Remember not to spray your milkweed plants because they are the host plant for monarch butterflies. It is amazing to watch all the stages of life that end with a new monarch butterfly emerging.

All your hard work is now paying off in a bounty of harvest. Be sure to keep your vegetables and herbs picked. The same with all your flowers. Remember, One zucchini is perfect, Two and you need that zucchini cookbook. Three zucchinis and it’s time to put your extra zucchinis in a big paper bag. After dark take a stroll and just casually put that bag of extra zucchinis at the front door of one of your neighbors. Ring the bell and run quickly away. A better way. Set up a “Sell, Share or Barter” curbside store. Put out your extra veggies, lemons, avocados or little bouquets of flowers. Make some creative signage. “Will trade tomatoes for cookies, lemons for some homemade bread.” If you have school-age children you can work an amazing amount of math, science and marketing into a curbside store. No matter what you did with your stay-at-home time do one more thing. Write up your stay-at-home experiences and save them for future generation. Who knows? You may someday become really famous and they may even be worth a fortune. Be sure to add pictures too. Eat your veggies just like your mother told you. Stay well! — Evelyn, your gardening guru