Stuck at home? Here are 8 family-friendly gardening activities you can do in your own backyard!
By Sara Weber
- Plant a vegetable garden. There are quite a few edibles that can be planted in March here in Florida. Tomatoes, peppers, and sweet potatoes all will generally survive transplanting this time of year. You can use seeds right now for onions, several types of beans, cucumbers, radishes, summer squash, cantaloupe, and peas.
- Plant those seeds you’ve had sitting around. You know, that “stash” you have in your drawer or cupboard – the ones your friend gave you, the ones you gathered in your yard, the ones you bought over the last couple years but never used. Even if a package of seeds is expired, many will still be viable – sometimes for years! Over time, the germination rate may slowly decline, but most seeds are worth trying, even if expired.
- What? You don’t have enough planters for those seeds? Remember anything that holds soil together can be a planter – it doesn’t have to be fancy! Get creative and make your own. You can use eggs shells, egg cartons, yogurt cups, cottage cheese containers, you could cut a milk carton in half– the list is endless. Just remember to make holes in the bottom for good drainage.
- Learn to ID all the plants in your yard. If you’re a beginner and this task seems overwhelming, start with just the landscape plants, or just the wildflowers, or just the trees. Use the UF/IFAS plant databases, the internet, books you may have at home, or send us photos, and we will be glad to help!
- After you’ve figured out what you have, pull out those invasive plants. These are the ones that aren’t native and can aggressively take over the good native and Florida-friendly plants (if they haven’t already!). Some examples are Air potato, Old world climbing fern, Brazilian pepper, and Chinese tallow. For a complete list see UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/.
- Read that gardening book (or if you’re like me, alllll of those gardening books) you have sitting on your shelf that you’ve never read cover to cover. This is a great time to learn, become inspired with new ideas, and freshen up on information you may have learned in the past and long forgotten about.
- ID the insects in your yard. Discover which are pests and learn which are beneficial. Remember not all bugs are bad – take a moment to observe and appreciate the honeybees on your flowers or find a butterfly caterpillar and learn which species it will turn into. UF/IFAS has a landscape pest app – so you can easily ID right from your own phone https://pest.ifas.ufl.edu/ . If you get stuck and still can’t figure it out, once again, email us photos and we will be glad to ID them for you! We love this stuff, we really do!
- Most importantly, take this time to relax, slow down, and embrace those things you seem to never have time for. If you have children or grandchildren at home with you, utilize this opportunity to teach them something new or learn something new together. Take the time to appreciate the beauty and life in your own backyard. You know, as the old saying goes “take time to stop and smell the roses.”
Sara Weber is the Florida Friendly Landscaping™ Educator/Trainer for UF/IFAS Extension Charlotte County. She can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.