Tag: homesteading

Growing Your Own Corona Virus Victory Garden

As people pick up new hobbies while they remain in self-quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in gardening and farming is experiencing a boom among Americans. One silver lining of the corona virus lockdown is that it comes at the start of the growing season. Between now and the fall, we have the chance to coax … read more

As people pick up new hobbies while they remain in self-quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in gardening and farming is experiencing a boom among Americans. One silver lining of the corona virus lockdown is that it comes at the start of the growing season. Between now and the fall, we have the chance to coax food from the soil while also feeding the soul.

This year, a vegetable garden may also provide one thing we seem to be lacking at the moment: control over our lives. It includes the satisfaction of raising nutritious and delicious food, exercising outdoors while socially distancing, relieving pressure on the nation’s food supply system, passing essential knowledge on to your children and growing extra to share with others. At the very least, it’s a constructive distraction in a confined environment.

This is what I love the most about our community at GS, the helpfulness, and kindness of the members to mentor, and walk alongside less experienced members, and help them grow (literally in this scenario!)

Developing a green thumb is a way to pass the time for some people, but others are using it as a way to attempt to make sure they have access to fresh food after panic buying led to shortages in grocery stores. In addition to emptying shelves of seeds and gardening tools, Americans are also buying animals, particularly chickens, to produce a steady influx of eggs.

It’s no coincidence that the interest in chickens comes at a time when supermarkets in the country, particularly in the northeast, are experiencing a shortage of eggs. Regionwide, egg retailers’ orders from wholesalers have increased by anywhere from double to 600%, and supply can’t immediately be increased

The makers of GS began having conversations early on as the pandemic and it’s potential implications began to become more evident. We discussed the need for people to become more sustainable, to be able to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables in an uncertain time. We always help each other so our conversations began with the more experienced gardeners sharing tips and advice with easy-to-grow veggies for the beginners.

(< Melonie of Ruby Dew Designs (with her daughter Ruby) in their home garden in Sunny California , Visit Melonie’s shop here: https://thegslife.com/2Si6wBw )

Even if you don’t consider yourself to have a green thumb, these vegetables are considered a good place to start for first-time gardeners. I wouldn’t recommend planting ALL of them your first time growing a garden, but maybe pick 4 or 5 from the list that your family enjoys and see what happens.

Experienced gardeners are expanding or adjusting what they grow, and novices are keen to get digging. Seed companies are seeing unprecedented levels of demand, and America hasn’t been this full of horticultural zeal since the era of World War II victory gardens.

Here’s a list of some of the easier vegetables to grow in your corona virus victory garden, with some really cool garden themed products from the GS Handmade marketplace:

  • Cucumbers like sunlight and warm temperatures, as well as support for climbing. (Thanks to their vertical growth, cukes do well in containers.) Once you give them these and water them regularly, they grow almost like weeds. You’ll probably have enough cucumbers to donate to your neighbors. The National Gardening Association says bush (rather than vine) cucumbers are best for containers or small spaces and have good disease resistance.

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  • Carrots Remember those projects from grade school where you grew carrot greens from their tops? Whole carrots are pretty easy to grow in the ground as well. The only thing about carrots is they might not grow very large, especially if you have rocky soil. Deep, well-drained soil is preferable—a raised bed is a good idea. Nevertheless, carrots are simple and fun to grow (your kids might even want to help). They tolerate light shade too, although, like most plants, they prefer full sun.
  • Radishes : You can slice radishes into a salad, but they’re also much more versatile than that, as appetizers, snacks and side dishes. Even though not everyone loves them, once you see how easy they are to grow, you might add them to your garden. They take just 20 days to reach full size!

(<< Misti of Houkreative planting her “corona virus victory garden” in this awesome bed that her husband built her to ease back strain. Check out her shop  HERE for some equally amazing handmade toys )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Green beans: All sorts of green beans, from snap beans (or string beans) to shell or whole beans are ideal for home gardens. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, and snapping beans to harvest them is kind of entertaining. I’ve had better luck with the vine type compared to the self-support bush types of snap peas, but the bush types require less space. Both types grow easily from seeds. Most beans prefer full sun and well-drained soil.

 

  • Zucchini: Zucchini grow so prolifically that they’re the butt of many a gardener’s joke. (“The only time we lock our doors around these parts is during zucchini season.”) One or two plants should cut it for most people. The blossoms are as delicious as the squash. Like beans and cucumbers, zucchini plants are prolific, whether they are grown in containers or directly in mounded soil. Like beans and radishes, they grow easily from seeds. They need good moisture, though, and prefer warm soil, so it’s best to sow seeds later in the warm season (a good plant for gardening procrastinators!)

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  • Tomatoes: Possibly the most popular vegetable for any size garden, you can grow tomatoes in hanging baskets or other containers or anywhere they’ll get lots of sun and have support for their stalks. Starter plants from a garden center at your local hardware store or a dedicated plant nurseryare the easiest to grow.

 

  • Lettuce : Lettuce grows quickly, is really easy to harvest (just snip the tops off the plants or pick leaves as needed), and takes up very little space. It can even be grown in containers, perhaps accompanied by flowers or tucked under taller plants. I’ve had success directly seeding them even in partly shady areas

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Other things to consider when starting a garden:

Choosing a site

 

Few people will have enough suitable land to become totally or even mostly self-sufficient. Optimally, you would want a garden with a quarter-acre or more in growing area, intensively gardened, and with a henhouse for eggs. Tending all this would be akin to a part-time job.

If you want to can and pickle produce and store root vegetables, you will need a larger garden than one just used seasonally.

Unless you are a seasoned gardener, forget the perfect survival garden for now; start out small so that you are not overwhelmed. You can always enlarge it as you yourself grow as a gardener.

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You need paths separate from growing beds to avoid soil compaction. An ideal, modular growing bed is eight feet by four feet — this permits access without stepping into it — and in normal times might be framed in lumber to allow for efficient raised-bed cultivation. Sally McCabe, associate director of community education for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, notes that such a bed would be formed from three eight-foot boards — about the maximum you can fit into a car — with one board sawed in half. You may want to forget the boards for now; just mound up the growing bed and keep off it. The paths should be at least two feet wide but not much wider, because you are then robbing yourself of growing area.

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(<< A beautiful raised bed garden by Raenita of That’s So Addie in Oregon. Visit her shop to see all of her beautiful clothing HERE )

Size Matters:

In thinking about the appropriate size of the Stick It to the Virus Garden, McCabe has a scale of 1 to 10, from an apartment dweller with a windowsill at the low end to a budding farmer with five acres at the other. She’s more interested in the land-poor range. You can grow sprouts on your windowsill. She has several containers of sprouts grown from bags of dried lentils and beans from the grocery store. “If you combine that with rice and beans, you’ve got everything covered — starches, proteins and fresh vegetables — and you can live off that,” she said. “You’ll get really bored, but you can live off that.”

The next step is to grow herbs in containers; those will spice up any dish. If you have a patio or tiny backyard, you can grow a variety of greens and herbs.

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A few other site considerations:

Sunlight: A few leafy veggies and herbs will take partial shade, but for a garden to be successful, you must have at least six hours of direct sunlight daily, typically afternoon light.

Water: You will need access to water. In summer heat, plants may need watering daily. The problem with rain barrels (apart from mosquitoes) is that they are dry when you need water the most. Also, position growing beds away from areas with poor drainage.

Soil: Ideally, you would build the soil with compost, leaf mold and other organic material before planting a garden. This year, access to off-site soil amendments is difficult, and you may have to work with the soil you have. There may still be many fallen leaves from the autumn around to gather and incorporate into the soil. Start a compost pile.