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Taking up gardening as a new springtime hobby

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Posted at 2:13 PM, Mar 21, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. -- If you're looking for a new hobby to try this spring, why not give gardening a shot?

Kim Swecker has been gardening for over 20 years.

"This is kind of a transitional garden,” Swecker said as she pointed to a yellow plant at the Knitting Mill Creek Community Garden. “I planted this as a cover crop.”

Swecker owns a plot in the community garden, along with other residents who pay annual fees for gardening plots of their own. The garden is filled with a variety of plants and flowers.

"My mom was an avid gardener and I just started doing it to decompress. Before I retired, we were very busy,” Swecker said. "On the weekends, it was just a way to go, 'Ahh.' So you get food and you get some beauty."

With spring finally here, gardening is a hobby Swecker recommends people take on. More people have already picked it up because of the pandemic, according to Chris Epes, an agent with the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

"The garden center industry had a banner year,” Epes explained. “The master gardeners have been having a great year."

Epes’s job with the VCE is to provide free guidance to residents who want the know-how on gardening.

"I've been getting inundated with calls and it's just been great,” Epes said.

He and Will Redfern, a master gardener, joined us Sunday morning at the community garden. The two plowed a small trench where we planted pea seeds.

“It's one of a number of cool-season things that we can plant,” Epes said as he guided us on how to plant the seeds. "What we're going to do is just line these up about two inches apart down the length of the trench."

Epes reviewed the trench and spread out any seeds that may have been close together. The seeds were then covered with dirt and watered.

There are mistakes people make while gardening, and one of them, Epes said, is people not following directions like those on seed packages. "Some people choose not to water it and let nature take its course,” Epes continued. “This is something you want to be careful with, is to make sure the seeds stay moist."

With care, you could have your very own lush garden.

Resources are available to first-time and experienced users. The Virginia Cooperative Extension has resources available and can be reached for assistance.

Additional resources are available through the Norfolk Master Gardeners. The site offers presentations, updates, and videos – including a series called “Gardening with Gill” – to help gardeners achieve a successful garden.