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.
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.
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.
You 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.
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. : )