Be Prepared–Plant a Garden

It amazes me, the breadth of opinion out there on disaster preparedness, especially now that we’re in one. During the only other disaster I’ve experienced–the Whittier earthquake in the 80s–everyone was pretty united. Quakes were bad. Cleaning up after them was expensive. It was good to lend a hand.

But this pandemic is completely different. So far, opinions include: it’s a hoax because this is really all due to 5G, it’s the end of the world as we know it, it’s the beginning of a depression that will dwarf the one from the 1930s, or we’ll all be back to business as usual sometime in late spring.

I would’ve thought there’d be more more consensus while we were actually going through the thing. Anyway, I certainly don’t have a crystal ball. Take your pick. : )

So, I figure my basic prepping principle comes into play. Only spend money on things that make your life better, whether or not a disaster occurs. Or in this case, only spend on stuff that will be useful regardless of how severe this thing actually becomes.

garden1--raised bed

A garden totally fits that bill, and just about everyone can come up with something. Tomatoes grown on an apartment balcony. Strawberries in a strawberry pot. A raised bed built with scrap lumber in a suburban backyard. Or in my case, a fenced area to repel the many deer, who apparently spend all their available time plotting how to strip my garden of everything they find tasty.

No matter what form your garden takes or how bad this pandemic becomes, a garden is a good thing. And if the pessimists are right, it may even turn out to be a crucial asset.

garden3--plants on balcony

There’s always a solution if you want one. Plants can be grown in milk cartons and plastic bags if you can’t make it out to buy pots (just be sure to poke holes in the bottom first). Dig up dirt from a spot in your backyard, or dedicate a sunny area to be your new garden. Or upcycle an abandoned pallet. If you don’t have a yard, unless you live in a metropolis, perhaps you could collect a few shovels full of dirt from a neglected, abandoned area and haul it back to your place to fill containers. Or buy from Amazon or other online retailers–they’re still up and running, and they sell potting soil. Lots of people grow tomatoes right in the potting soil bags.


garden4--bean seedYou can also buy seeds online. But if your budget is very constrained, there are lots of seeds you can find just from stuff in your pantry and fridge. Tomatoes have seeds inside, and even the hybrid ones they sell from the store will grow some kind of tomato if you plant them. Ditto squash, melons, and peppers. The dried beans in the plastic bag from your cupboard will grow more beans–this is so easy that I used to do it with my primary students every spring. If you’ve got kids at home, you can germinate beans with a wet paper towel in a clear glass set on a windowsill, and turn gardening into a home-schooling project as well. A trellis can be fashioned from a tripod of three sticks tied at the top with twine.

This video, from MI Gardener, will give you more info on gardening like this: How to Grow a Garden on a Broke Poor Budget. I also recommend this one: Best Crops to Grow for Beginning Gardeners.

You can also re-sprout your celery and green onions from the grocery store. Put them in a glass on your windowsill until new roots develop, and then plant them in a garden bed. This video can tell you more: Growing Fresh Food from Pantry Items in Lockdown.

If you live in the country like me, with deer who think you planted tomatoes and zucchini to keep their adorable little fawns in fine fettle, don’t despair. Even if you can’t get out to buy fencing, there are plants that deer won’t eat. Potatoes are actually poisonous above ground, and you can pick some up at the grocery store or order seed potatoes online. Special seed potatoes work faster, but ordinary sprouting spuds grow just fine, too. I’m planting both this year.


Carrots work well, too, since they live underground. The deer in my area will nip off the tops, but that’s okay–they grow right back. I’ve harvested sweet-tasting carrots from very short tops. Just plan on using a trowel to get them up. This is the best video I’ve seen on growing carrots from seed, which can be tricky: How to Sow Carrot Seeds.

Cabbage is super-easy to grow, and for some reason, the deer in my area completely ignore it. I don’t munch on it in salads, but it’s a great addition to soup. And I’ve stir-fried it with mushrooms and bacon.

Onions are also deer-proof, and I recommend starting them from the little bulbs, instead of seed. Radishes and beets also grow underground, where the four-footed locusts can’t get to them. I’m keeping my small fenced bed for sunflowers, beans, tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini, but I’m expanding my food garden into non-fenced areas with onions, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. Even if those four are all you can grow, that could be worth a lot later.

Truckers and farmers could get sick. It’s entirely possible that the only available vegetables will be found in a can (blech!), and even those might be hard to come by.

Save them for someone else. Grow your own instead–I’m telling you this as a friend.

Besides, it’s fun to watch your veggies grow, and the resulting harvest is far fresher than anything you can buy.

So, come join me. Let’s bring back the Victory Garden.

Happy gardening. : )


Avid writer and reader of Faerie tales and noblebright fantasy.

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31 comments on “Be Prepared–Plant a Garden
  1. Great tips, Cathleen.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Liz says:

    Thank you for such wonderful tips! We restarted our garden a few weeks ago after taking a year off from it. We completely forgot we had potatoes until we dug them up but we’ve returned them under ground (in a better spot) so they can grow more potatoes! Great idea to make them a homeschooling lesson as well. I’ll be doing that with some of the beans in the pantry so my kid can see how they grow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you found it useful, Liz. I, too, have taken time off gardening–mostly because of the deer. But I got a roll of fencing while I still could, so I’m all set to have at least one deer-proof spot in my garden. I’m glad you’re doing the beans–it’s such an easy lesson for the kids. : )

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A lovely idea, Cathleen. If I wasn’t working full time from home, I would do this but I am more strapped for time than ever now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know the feeling. I almost envy the people who say they’re bored. I’ve been frantically building a chicken coop (the next post), and working on my garden.

      All I’ll say about the little chickies here is that they’re absolutely adorable, and they’re a complete bathroom apocalypse. I’m REALLY motivated to get the coop done. It would go better if I was a faster carpenter. : )

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jenanita01 says:

    I have been looking at the grass in my back garden, wondering how hard it would be to turn it into a vegetable plot!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great ideas, Cathleen. I am feeling the need to tighten everything down–what I use, what I throw away, everything. I don’t mind. It almost feels like I’m doing my part.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks, Cathleen! Sharing… Just started planning this year’s garden and are going to try drying a lot of the harvest this year. 🙂 Take good care of you and stay safe, my friend! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Anne Fraser says:

    Hi Cathleen
    I am fron a small town in Western Victoria Australia. A few weeks ago we had horrific bushfires and everyone pulled together. Food and supplies were collected and sent to the hardest hit areas. Even through all of that there was no shortage of anything in the stores.
    We get a warning that there is a bug going round that will be dangerous to some people and suddenly there is not a roll of toilet paper to be bought….still is hard to get . Then rice pasta and now flour are in very short supply .
    People spent hundreds of dollars at the start to “stock up” on toilet paper …….these same people are now complaining about not being able to get rice or pasta etc.
    Hope you stay safe and sane during this trying time.
    Regards fom Australia and keep those books coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree–the urge to stock up can be a good thing, but we need to exercise it with some sanity. I’m so glad your fire emergency is over. If you’re stumped on the toilet paper thing, I recommend those water bottles that you can squeeze and get a stream out of the top. I’m looking at them as a sort of poor woman’s bidet. : )


  8. A veggie or herb garden is always a great idea and your suggestions are terrific. I especially like the wood pallet one, turned on its side to create a cascading garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ann Coleman says:

    I think one of the hardest things about this pandemic is the uncertainty of it, and how many conflicting predictions we get on how this will all play out. It would be nice to see some unity, but we don’t really have much, maybe because it’s an election year? But for whatever reason, I think being prepared is a good response, as is your call to live as simply and self-sufficiently as we can. Great idea about bringing back the victory garden! Not only is it practical, it’s also good for us emotionally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s something inherently optimistic about a garden, and I think it would be wise to find all the silver linings we can right now. Maybe Victory Gardens would be something we could all unite around. : )


  10. I really need to grow my own veggies, Cathleen, so thanks for these great ideas. We have so much shade in our backyard, we struggled to successfully grow even zucchini! Plus our soil is rocky and won’t grow anything except redwoods. We need to bring in more organic soil, whatever we got free two years ago went to my flower garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Spinach and lettuce are fairly shade tolerant, as are some varieties of potatoes. And if you can’t grow in your backyard, consider growing in your front yard. One guy in San Diego–his YouTube channel is called Epic Gardening–couldn’t grow much in his shady backyard, so he turned his entire front yard into a garden. He build his up over time, but maybe you could re-purpose a flower bed into tomatoes or even potatoes.

      Having a food supply may become critical–and then again, it may not. I don’t know any more than anyone else how this will play out. But the more people who grow their own food, the less desperate people there potentially are if things go very badly.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m just like you in this regard, Cathleen. We spent the day in the garden yesterday getting it ready for seeds and fixing fences (those darn deer). Not only do we grow our own veggies but it’s good for the body and soul to be outside. We’re still waiting for spring, but soon.
    Stay safe, my friend, and happy growing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. […] Plant Your Own Garden. Check out Author Cathleen Townsend’s recent post Be Prepared: Plant a Garden. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Green onions are so easy to do. I often wonder if the stores sell a lot of them because everyone should have some at home.

    Liked by 1 person

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