Pandemic Gardening

Winter squash in raised bed

Last week we were at our favorite nursery, Harmony Farm Supply in Forestville, California, and we were chatting with someone who works there about the pandemic and how there was a surge in gardening in 2020. We knew that must be the case, as, in the spring, I had waited in an impressively long line for over an hour while getting my own supplies. Besides the long lines, the whole isle of seed packets was almost entirely empty! Just the skeletal wire frames and Out Of Stock cards remained, other than a few lonely packets of brussel sprouts nobody wanted. (What the heck, I bought a packet, just in case.) People had carts full of vegetable seedlings and potting soil. And over at the local feed store, there were no chicks to be had either. I wondered if milk cows and goats were in demand too.

Luckily, I was able to snag a few tomato plants before they sold out, and we still had some leftover seeds at home from which to plant the rest of our summer vegetable garden. Except now we were very careful with each seed. I even used tweezers at one point.

Rouge Vif d’Etampes heirloom pumpkin

Our summer garden supplied the usual abundance of zucchini, cucumbers, kale and more. The pole beans got away from us, as they inevitably do each year. There was a new bed of strawberries, and instead of neglecting them as is my usual wont, I took care to constantly snip off the runners, and no surprise, they yielded much better fruits.

The tomatoes were grown in our (rather small and rickety) greenhouse this year, and given much attention–pruned into cordons. The plants grew well but the fruits were slow to ripen. Perhaps the greenhouse plexiglass was blocking too much sun. Or perhaps it was due to the cool summer, followed by lack of fall sun due to the wildfire smoke in our area. Happily, there were also successes in the greenhouse. I tried okra for the first time ever, grown in nursery pots, and was delighted that the plants grew tall and produced enough pods to be worth it. Also, about 6 or 7 pepper plants were kept there, pruned in V-shapes tied to bamboo stakes, and they did well. When the frosts came, I brought two of them into the house and I still have a few red peppers now in early January.

Heirloom pumpkin of unknown name

The Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkins were the usual picturesque fall treat. It’s my favorite pumpkin of all. Something so artful about the way it looks. In spring, some gardener friends gave us another heirloom pumpkin to grow, and it became quite impressive. Alas, I don’t remember it’s name. I will update the photo caption if I find out. You may notice a paver under the pumpkin in the photo. If you are not from this area, you will not know that we have to do all kinds of protections from gophers here. Our specific neighborhood is particularly rife with them, possibly due to the sandy soil rather than the thick clay most of the region has. Gophers will burrow up from the ground and eat holes in the bottom of the pumpkins.

I would love to hear about your 2020 garden! What were your joys and trials? I’m especially curious to hear from people who gardened for the first time this year, or if you planted more veggies than usual due to the pandemic. How did your “Victory Garden” do? What garden plans do you have for 2021? Gardeners love to share and learn from one another, like we used to do over the garden fence.

I can’t wait to hear about your garden! When you post a comment, please be patient for it to show up–I will be vetting out any trolls because this is a sacred gardening space. Hope you will continue planting in 2021 and stay in touch!

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2 thoughts on “Pandemic Gardening

  1. I had planned to grow more flowers and less food, and had my 2020 plan all finished. But, when March arrived and the virus flourished, the plan was revised and as much food as possible was grown instead. Much of it was shared with elderly friends and neighbors who can no longer garden. I plan to do the same again this year, and will concentrate on growing the most productive varieties of past successes rather than experimenting with a lot of “newbies.”

    1. Thanks for sharing Carolee! That was a great summary. Sounds like a good plan to focus on what you know works this year. So sweet of you to provide for elderly friends and neighbors! We often put out bumper harvest items with a free sign in front of our place. I love your own blog! Thanks for the good work you do. Warmly, lisa

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