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Gardening is a good shelter in place family activity

Most Alabamians have been sheltering in place now for over four weeks. Schools will not actually open again until August, if then, and the grocery stores are still struggling to keep up with demand. There is no spring baseball, softball, or soccer and the fall football and cheering seasons might not happen if the lockdown is extended. Kids have a lot of energy, that really cannot be fully utilized watching TV, doing online class assignments, and surfing the internet. This would be a good opportunity for families to garden.

Growing your own food is the ultimate survival skill to develop yourself. With the U.S. debt at $24,238 billion and climbing rapidly food stamps or EBT cards might not be there the next time we have a pandemic or financial collapse.

While everybody does not have a 200-acre farm to grow their own food crops and livestock on, a lot of food can be grown on a very small plot of very well managed ground.

Our gym memberships are really not getting used this year and most of us could use a physical activity where we do more sit on a couch.

Gardening can be used as a basis for homeschooling lessons and can introduce the whole family to a healthier diet as well as a food source that is not dependent on a paycheck or a a government handout. Many of us have a wealth of experience we learned from our Depression era grandparents we can draw on; but our children and grandchildren don’t have any of that knowledge in their memories. This coronavirus lockdown would be a good time to pass on some of that knowledge and experience and if you don’t have it, it would be a good time to develop those survival skills. You likely won’t need these skills this year; but in the future almost anything is possible and preparing for bad times means more than stockpiling potted meat and canned pineapples to get through a power outage.

Alabama is blessed with a long growing season and lots of water. Crops like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, eggplants, melons, squash, corn, cowpeas, peanuts, sweet potatoes, etc. can be grown here from April 1 to November 1 (and even longer than that with a green house or by moving container plants inside on cold nights). Frost tolerant crops like: lettuce, cabbage celery, broccoli, radishes, onions, spinach, turnips, collards, beets, rutabagas, etc. can be planted even earlier as well as planted in the fall for a second harvest. Parts of Alabama can grow turnip greens and collard greens year round in a mild winter. South Alabama has a a longer growing season than north Alabama; but April is a good month to plant for all of the state.

Many communities have (or could) community gardens. An acre or two or three set aside for the neighborhood to grow food on. Be sure to practice good social distancing during the pandemic.

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The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service has many resources for home gardeners as well as farmers.

The Alabama Vegetable Gardener

This site is also a useful resource:

Here is a video about gardening with kids during the coronavirus lockdown:

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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