There are a great many people who are suddenly interested in planting a vegetable garden and who can blame them? For years now, we've rather taken it for granted we'll walk into a grocery store and purchase whatever our heart desires in any season (at a price but alas, that's the cost of heart desires!) and take it home to eat.
Suddenly we're looking at bare grocery shelves...And a great many people are thinking, "Wait a minute...Grandma and Grandpa grew that!"
Well first thing, let's get a clear idea of what is seasonal. Some foods are not going to grow mid-summer, because it is too hot. Some foods prefer cooler weather for growing. We've had access to foods from all around the world (or at least within our own side of the world) and we have no problems at all with picking up strawberries or grapes in winter that were grown in South America. You're going to have to learn this gardening thing. No point in wasting your time. You've got the internet at your fingertips. Read about what you're planting and when it's best planted and when you'll harvest it.
And second let's get over the idea that we simply don't have enough room for a garden if you have only a patio or a flower bed. My eldest daughter had a small flower bed next to her front door when she lived in Public Housing. She grew more food in that small little 2 foot wide, 4 foot long bed! Tomatoes, peppers, collards, herbs and even flowers! I think she had something growing in all seasons except the deepest part of winter, which in the South isn't a very long spell.
I watched a Mary Berry Favorites episode yesterday and she visited a school that was growing a garden in plastic tubs and five gallon buckets. And they managed to grow enough food to feed the school children daily! Their whole plot held chickens and vegetables, and compost in a small area about half the size of a standard back yard in London.
Square foot gardening is a great way too to make the most of space in a small yard (I'm thinking of Mama's apartment sized back yard.) In an area not much larger than a flower border you could grow a season's worth of vegetables.
No kidding, my first (and my only REAL garden) was the width of four clotheslines, about 4 feet wide and about 8 feet long. In that little garden we grew enough food to feed us through the season and I canned jars of vegetables besides to help us through the winter. No, not enough to keep us all winter but enough that when my husband was called up for duty in the Gulf War and I was left with too much debt and only my salary, I managed to keep us afloat with my tiny little stockpile and home canned goods for more than two months.
What a shock for some to find that seed packets are now considered non-essentials as the gardening season moves forward. Their seed stock is as empty as the pantry which reflected the instant sort of society we've become.
So what do you do now? Well for one thing, you can ORDER seeds online. Gracious goodness, you can order just about anything you want from any box store or specialty store and seeds are right there with every thing else. Potting soil, too, if you need that as well. I have no idea if the seeds would reach you in time to plant but I'll wager they will.
You can harvest from home. It might not be much at first but green onion root ends and sprouted potatoes from the vegetable bin can be planted. Butt ends of lettuce or cabbage, too. Most tomatoes are hybrid as are peppers but you can certainly save those seeds for a year and plant them next year and have your own plants. Fruit seeds might also be planted. Look online. You'll find lots of articles about regrowing from things you'd normally toss.
Now I haven't tried this personally but I know a girl who bought dried beans at the grocery store (black eye peas and lima beans, to be exact). She went home and planted them and the darned things grew and grew and she harvested as many as the deer allowed her before they ate them all up. It's worth an experiment if you happen to have the sort of beans on hand you'd care to grow yourself. Seriously, you could plant one and if it sprouts then you could plant as many as you think you'd want to harvest from.
If you know of someone who usually gardens, then I feel it's quite alright to ask if they have any spare seeds. It's always seems to me those who garden are all too happy to add to their ranks by sharing seeds and plants with others. I do know that with social distancing we cannot exchange plants but one might certainly ask about spare seeds. They could be mailed for little expense...and naturally if you've seeds you might offer them to others. After all, it only takes a few to make a great many plants.
All dirt is not created equal, but you might well reuse soil from last year's potted plants. I do this all the time. You can add dirt dug from your own yard and amend it with the soil from the pots. And if you've no good soil at present, you can begin planning ahead for next year and start a compost pile or bucket. You can add vegetable scraps, shredded paper, coffee grounds and any number of other things. I remember a long list somewhere that said all the things you might compost (paper towel rolls for instance). Look it up online...Aren't we just lucky to have internet?
No, this is not a comprehensive guide to gardening by any means, but I hope I've give you a few ideas of ways you might find your way around roadblocks, either your own mental ones, or those put in place by government restrictions at present.
By the way I checked my seed supply. I apparently only have green peas on hand...sigh. I do hope I can find a few of the ones I want at the local store. If not then I'll definitely be sure I get prepared for next year!
(C) Terri Cheney