Amid a global pandemic, it’s still spring, time for new life and especially gardening to begin. WSU agricultural sciences librarian David Luftig has created a library guide of open-access gardening and horticulture resources to help people make the most of their growing efforts this year.

“I’m actually new to the area, and I wanted to learn about gardening in the Palouse,” he said. “Also, I’ve read a few articles stating that with the current pandemic and self-isolation, there is a rise of interest in gardening.”

The resources listed on the guide range from more advanced research (such as the “Find Open-Access Journals” page) to more basic how-to guides (like the “Find Easy-to-Use Guides and Resources” page).

Why open access?

Luftig said he wanted to focus on open access for several reasons. As the land-grant university in the state and the home of fantastic Extension programs, WSU has a responsibility to share some of these resources with everyone in the state.

“Additionally, not everyone can access our paid resources, so I wanted to allow them to find important and useful information, especially as it pertains to local gardening,” he said. “Also, the Extensions have produced so many great open resources and publications. I just wanted to offer another access point to a lot of that great information.”

Luftig created another library guide on the history of agriculture and land use on the Palouse for more resources for the curious.

“I love the local history. The Extension programs and community members have been building a knowledge network going back over 100 years, and its legacy is fascinating,” he said. “I am also amazed by the important and dedicated research being created by Washington researchers and community members.”

More interest in local gardening too

Closeup of David Luftig
David Luftig

A New York Times article on the return of victory gardens and another on how community gardens are responding to the COVID-19 epidemic show that interest in gardening is growing across the nation even as people are practicing social distancing and other actions to flatten the curve of the epidemic’s spread.

Tim Paulitz, plot coordinator for Pullman Community Garden at Koppel Farm, has seen an increase in local gardening interest the last few weeks. Even so, open plots are still available for this year; to rent a plot, visit the organization’s website.

A board member of Pullman Community Garden for the last 20 years, Paulitz remembers another time when people sought to garden at Koppel Farm.

“When the 2008-2009 Great Recession hit, we had a huge spike in demand and added about 15 more plots to the garden by using some of the border areas,” he said. “For the next three or four years, we had waiting lists and were pretty full. But in the last few years, we have had about 25 percent of the plots vacant.”

In terms of a COVID-19 response, Pullman Community Garden plans on being open this season and asks gardeners to maintain social distance, use their own tools if possible, and wear gloves.

“We will set up some kind of hand-washing station once the water is turned on,” Paulitz said. “We have cancelled all our work parties, socials, and our main event, the Spring Fair, Open House and Plant Sale.”