Gardening and getting outdoors during the pandemic

Kyle Knox

Gila River Indian News


Though it’s not spring break, the world and Community is mostly confined to our homes and taking advantage of outdoor needs seems like an applicable activity. Around the Community, many are outside clearing weeds from 2019, pruning trees, or preparing or planning new home gardens. The low desert environment we live in means warmer temperatures are here, and now is the best time to try out your green thumb.


Like tending to cattle, gardening and agriculture is a science. Understanding temperature, irrigation, and soil composition factor heavily into gardening as well, but shouldn’t be daunting enough to shy anyone away. The Community has resources to assist green thumbs and beginners alike.


Understanding the  climate will help you decide what to plant as there are excellent beginner plants to consider such as herbs and flowers. 


Sunflowers and their varieties are relatively simple and easy to manage as long as they are well watered and have sufficient sunlight. Herbs vary but require water and good soil to begin cultivation. Keep in mind that many herbs can start inside then can be moved outdoors, or they can remain indoors as long as they are near a window for heat and sunshine.


The soil for herbs and plants, if placed in planting pots or containers, should be labeled as “potting soil,” stay away from outside dirt or regular “gardening soil.” Potting soil has elements that will assist with draining water away from the plant and roots. This soil ensures water doesn’t settle, and you inadvertently “overwater” your plants.


Fruits and vegetables require soil, ample space, and access to water. Many times, gardeners will plant outside their homes with access to a garden hose. And because of the Community’s plentiful water, having enough shouldn’t be an issue. One component to consider is soil, which will also play into the space consideration.


Unfortunately, our local land isn’t the best for plants and requires treatment before successful planting. With that, this leads many to purchase soil from stores or nurseries. Outside compost and dirt are best to start with since enriched from waste from bioproducts like trees, grass cuttings, etc. Those bioproducts will help to nurture and support plants and living things within them.


Because the soil must be purchased or hauled, that may affect how big or small your garden area is. There is no right or wrong way and it is up to your discretion based on what you can manage.


Some fruits and vegetables to consider  between now and the end of April are radishes, potatoes, summer squash, watermelon, melon, corn, beans and peppers.


With the extra time, gardening can prove to be a productive activity for families. The time outside is healthy and can provide additional physical activity. In this time of uncertainty, cultivating a garden is one thing that we can manage and it can be very rewarding.


Lastly, whether you are a seasoned or novice gardener you can find local support by reaching out to David Van Druff at the Gila River Health Care’s Life Center. His program can provide some starter plants, planting tubs, and advice to support your efforts. He can be reached by email at or by calling his office at (520) 562-3321.