COLUMBIA, South Carolina — Coronavirus has many people “socially distancing” themselves, which might mean a little too much time indoors, especially for the kids. It turns out limiting your exposure to people can bring you closer than ever to nature. 

I’m busy in Gandy’s Garden at News 19, and over the next few weeks we’re on your side sharing ways to bring some cheer and green.

Mid-March is an awkward time for South Carolina gardeners. It’s certainly warm enough on many days for summer fruits and vegetables to thrive, but the South Carolina midlands is still at a risk for brief freezes. Although, we are starting to bring frost sensitive plants into Gandy’s Garden, I’m not planting them in the ground yet.

Holding off on planting is a great opportunity to get your creative juices flowing. Every day I check up on the plants to make sure I’m pairing the right colors and textures together for the perfect pops of color. I’m also checking to make sure the plants are in a spot where they’re getting the right amount of sun.

Many of the plants growing in our garden were started from seed. I sowed spinach and broccoli seeds in January and peas and arugula in February. The spinach and broccoli are starting to reach an adult size and the peas are quickly finding their place in the garden as well. There’s still some time to plant peas, but it’s too late to plant most winter crop seedlings now, but I was able to find some lettuce and kale seedlings. The lettuce and kale were planted in the ground this past weekend and will be ready for harvest in 2 to 4 weeks. These plants are short lived in the spring garden. They fizzle out when the weather gets hot, but they grow very quickly and will give you some greens for dinner without waiting a very long time.

Gardening is a fun and educational way to bring the kids out of the house without actually leaving home. Summer favorites like sunflowers can be planted outside now (with caution to freezing temperatures) and are another plant that brings quick satisfaction for kids because it only takes a few days to pop up. Basil comes up quickly too and can be started in pots right now if they’re brought inside when temperatures drop below 40 degrees. (Although basil will survive temperatures down to freezing, they grow best in warm weather).

This is the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs, and local nurseries are fully stocked with plants to choose from, and there are many vendors online that sell plants and deliver them right to the door. Some of the most important yard work doesn’t involve planting at all! Weeding and fertilizing are great yard chores this time of the year and will put your plants ahead of schedule for the summertime. Local nurseries are beginning to stock up on plenty of