The canvas moved from inside to outside with the first few weeks of mild night temperatures. The lure of spring planting is hard to resist for artists who dig dirt.

It could not be much more important to get in the soil than now. For anyone who’s mobile and can piddle in the kitchen, it’s time to piddle outside in the dirt. The list of coronavirus symptoms didn’t include an aversion to soil. Like baking and watercolor-painting, gardening is (generally) a solitary activity.

There’s a reason why we’ve all heard “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” A few pots of growing medium, some seeds or young starts, and you’re good to go. Nobody but you needs to know what you did or failed to do. If things grow, then great. Success. If not, that’s OK too. Pull the dead ones out and start again.

Thankfully, North Dakota has some of the best soil around. Usually, amendments are beneficial but not always required. If you have composted over a winter or two, the worms will have made your best amendment. A shovel here and there will add nutrients for many vegetables and annuals.

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There have been quite a number of posts on social media about gardening since late February. The pandemic has tightened the family circle so “the horses face outward and the family is protected within.” Gardening is a healthy way to protect the unit while simultaneously doing something educational as well as healthful.

“Victory gardens” were what baby boomers and families did following WWII. There was a national push for returning military to own homes (on the G.I. Bill), start a family, buy bonds and plant a vegetable garden. Suburbia grew up around little Victory Gardens. Even Frank Lloyd Wright capitalized on the need for low-cost, well-designed and easily maintained homes on a small plot of land with his Usonian concept.

Military families, on bases and off, shared plots provided by the government to plant and grow vegetables needed to supplement what was available in markets. Social media has been showing quite a number of posts from 30- and 40-somethings who have “found” gardening as a pastime. That’s refreshing.

There have been concerns whether nurseries would be open and have the usual varieties of veggies, annuals and perennials. Of all the summers, this is looking to be one of the most important years for first-time gardeners. Hopefully, plant sellers will make sure there are plenty of ornamentals as well as edible plants so neophytes can find the variety they need and want.

This might be the year for the Extension agents to provide some clear directions online for first-time canners too. As happened after the Great Depression and world wars, people need to have their hands busy doing something valuable. A garden is just that. Shop locally and augment online. Ask questions. People like Laurie Podoll and John Zvirovski are on Facebook and connected to other plant-people. Most are happy to share experiences and make suggestions Even one pot of tomatoes can be something to brag about on social media.

If anyone has an item for this column, please contact Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.