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Isolation prompts people to garden, improve home

The coronavirus pandemic may have upended our daily lives, but life goes on. For those in the agriculture industry, springtime in Florida is a time of blossoming, and with most people stuck in their homes, residents have turned their attention to home improvements.

Business at DeBary Nursery has picked up.

“People have got so much time, they’re going out in the yards and fixing them up, which is great,” owner Beverly McCain said. “I’ve sold a tremendous amount of fruit trees and vegetables, because people want to become more self-sufficient.”

Agriculture is considered an essential service, which means places like DeBary Nursery will remain open throughout the pandemic.

“They say sunshine helps with disease, and everybody here is social distancing; people have masks. It’s a very safe environment. And you know, it’s healthy and good for you,” McCain said.

While vegetable season is nearing its end in Florida, potted fruit trees are good to plant anytime, McCain said.

“Life goes on,” she added.


Gardening time: What to plant now

It’s about time for the weather to really heat up, and that means it’s planting time for some of Florida’s heat-loving veggies and herbs.

The University of Florida’s IFAS extension recommends planting Southern favorites like sweet corn, squash, beans, okra, Southern peas and sweet potato in late April and early May.

Other vegetables are nearing the very end of when they can be planted successfully, so if you have any tomato, peppers, cucumber or carrot seeds or seedlings, consider trying them now, lest you have to wait another year.

Herbs to plant now include basil, Mexican tarragon, and rosemary.

Many herbs do very well indoors, so if you haven’t already, now is a great time to cultivate some easy herb plants in your kitchen. Basil, parsley, dill, rosemary and more are all often essential herbs in cooking, and ask for only a well-lit area, like the sill of a kitchen window, and some delicious water.

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/ifasgardening.


St. Johns cleanup, COVID-19 style

An official cleanup effort has been canceled, but Volusia County’s Environmental Management Division is still soliciting residents to pick up trash along the St. Johns River and post pictures of the effort online May 2.

Because large groups cannot gather but the environment still needs TLC, the county encourages groups of two or three, wearing masks and gloves, to pick up the litter. The total poundage of rubbish will be tracked by cleanup coordinator Sondra McCulloch, and participants will earn a free tote bag.

Use Facebook or Twitter to post photos and poundage with the hashtags #sjrcu2020, #protectourriver and #AmericanRiversCleanUp. Contact McCulloch at 386-717-4941 or at smcculloch@volusia.org.

Local farmers can list their services

The Florida Department of Agriculture has launched a listing service to connect local farmers to consumers.

Farmers can fill out an online form to get their commodities listed, and locals can check the list for contact information and more.

Visit https://www.fdacs.gov/Agriculture-Industry/Florida-Farm-To-You.

— Compiled by Eli Witek

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