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This tomato plant was among the many kinds of varieties local gardeners tended to this summer as they grew their own food during the COVID-19 pandemic, many turning to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County in Millbrook for virtual guidance. Photo by Whitney Joseph

How does your garden grow… during a global pandemic?

MILLBROOK — While summer is at its tail end, the fact is that there is still some planting that can be done. With a little help from the experts at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County (CCEDC) in Millbrook, come fall, just days away, local gardeners will be able to continue to reap the rewards of their hard work — especially comforting as residents battle long lines and empty shelves at grocery stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether an old hand at gardening or a novice, now can still be a good time to keep busy in the backyard. And what a wonderful opportunity to share pleasant hours with children and spouses who are still home, self-isolating with the rest of society.

A wonderful resource is the CCEDC and its website, www.ccedutchess.org, even though the center is currently closed due to the health crisis. Area residents may call or email the center at any time and one of its staff will return the call as quickly as possible. Its number is 845-677-8223, or email dutchess@cornell.eduDutchess Dirt, produced by CCEDC’s Nancy Halas, Joyce deVries Thomaselli and Master Gardener volunteers, another great resource online. It offers many tutorials and these pros of the gardening world are pleased to share tips and information.

Some of the valuable information shared includes: how to avoid Lyme disease, what is composting, which plants are deer resistant and which species of plants are considered invasive.

On the website, gardeners can find a list of 50 vegetables to grow. Click each name, and a detailed description of the plant and growing instructions will appear, along with information about the type of soil needed, the best zones for growing, how to keep plants healthy and the best ways to plant, weed and feed the individual plants. It will also give details about soil composition and how to get soil tested.

And while the CCEDC is currently closed, gardeners can still ask questions via e-mail  — and get answers.

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