Pandemic Gardening

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Pandemic gardening is big this year. Nothing like a major hitch in the food supply chain to get people back to the traditional kitchen garden. I have never been so glad for my old-fashioned seed-saving and stocking up ways as I am this year. A quick look at the web sites of various seed sellers is illuminating. “Sold out.” “Not taking new orders.” “Expect extended delays in shipments.” If you were prepared because you saved your own seeds or ordered well ahead, I salute you. If you’re empty-handed, there are some ways you may still be able to grow food this year.

Kitchen Scraps

I’ve written about this before. A number of produce items can easily be regrown. Romaine lettuce, bok choy, celery, cabbage and green onions are among the easiest. Put the cut-off base of the first four in some water for about 10 days until roots form, then plant. Kids love these because they’re so quick – and pandemic gardening entertainment for children is a big deal in these days of no school. Soak the bottom half inch of green onions in water overnight and then plant roots down. Cover with about half an inch of soil.

Onions and Potatoes

Sprouting onions and potatoes are another example. The onions may or may not produce bulbs. In my experience, most produce several small bulbs rather than one large one. Even if they don’t form bulbs, you can use them like giant scallions. Just put the whole onion in the ground with the green top of the onion just above ground level. These may also go on to produce seeds, although most are hybrids, so you may or may not get a good variety to go on with. You can plant a whole sprouted potato or cut them in quarters. Just make sure there’s one sprout in each chunk.

Grow for a Neighbor

Many older people don’t have the physical ability to grow a garden this year, but they may still have seeds. Offer to grow for both of you. If the seeds they have are several years old, plant more thickly to ensure a decent crop.

Connect with Farmers and Market Growers

Unless you live in the depths of the cities, there are probably some smaller food growing operations around. Some may have leftover seeds or excess seedlings you can buy. In many areas, workers aren’t available to plant, tend or pick crops. Offer to work in return for a portion of the harvest.

Go Wild

While this isn’t technically pandemic gardening, foraging is another way to improve the food supply. There are dozens of wild foods out there, free for the harvest. Use online references to identify things like miner’s lettuce, pigweed, purslane, dandelions, chickweed and lamb’s quarters are good for salads and greens. Wild onions work just as well as scallions. Cattail corn is considered a delicacy in many areas. Before too much longer, wild berries will be coming along. Abandoned orchards are other sources for tree fruits.

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