Pandemic Gardening

I've had a garden for years, and we always like trying something new. This year, as Covid-19 made itself known at the beginning of the year and as we started our social distancing and shut-downs in March, there were several articles about potential food shortages and all kinds of predictions of what was to come. We had the time and we had the supplies, so we decided to increase out planting space from our usual 8'x10' garden plot, and our u-box, by constructing five 2'x3' raised garden boxes. We put these four in the front yard. 

We have our favourites but because we had the space, we decided to try a few new things this year, for a total of 22 types of fruits and vegetables.  It's been two months since we planted; here's how things have progressed. * means it was our first time.

1. Watermelon*.  We planted the seeds. They sprouted and shot up two inches with their bright green leaves. They're still alive and two inches tall. RESULT: utter and complete failure.

2. Pumpkin*.  We planted 12 seeds not expecting them all to sprout. Surprise! 4 went into a box and the remaining 8 lined our backyard fence.  We have 9 remaining plants, averaging 1 viable pumpkin per vine. We say viable because while there are many buds, not all the wee baby pumpkins get fertilized.

3. Spaghetti Squash*. We planted 12 seeds and again they all sprouted. We gave away 7 and planted the remaining 5. We currently have 3 viable squashes.

4. Purple beans. These took up a lot of space in the garden last year so we moved them to a pair of garden boxes. They loved it and climbed the frame. Now we're waiting for them to start producing fruit.

4. Potatoes. We planted two. The first shot up right away. The second had a two to three week delay, but they are growing like mad now. We are using a new potato box this year, and ensured it had very good drainage after our disastrous summer last year. We're leaving these for a while longer, hoping to get a good haul come fall.

5-9. My herb box. Parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme. My basil and parsley have gone wild and I love it. My oregano is a little slow, and the rosemary and thyme are fine.

10. Corn*.  We had 12 stalks come up. They are starting to flower, or whatever the term is for corn, and so far only three stalks are showing signs of producing cobs, but we still have time.

11-14.  Zucchini, onions, carrots, beets (and corn.) This is our main garden. The zucchinis are across the short (far) end. We've had four zucchinis so far this year. The first was about 500gr (1 lb) and the largest was over 1000gr (over 2 lbs.) We thinned the beets for the first time ever this year, and wow, did they take advantage of the space. They're huge! As a bonus, we were able to sauté the beet tops, so that was another meal. The carrots are well on their way. The onions are all tops and no bottoms at the moment, so we wait. 

15. Cucumbers. Some neighbours gave us an open packet of seed, so we started these from scratch. They are good slicer cukes, but did not grow up the ladder like ones we've planted in previous years. We will have to buy cucumbers for pickling, but we did get some fresh ones to eat.

16. Peppers. The selection was limited when we got to the nursery, so we only got three (2 Cajun Reds, and 1 Hungarian Wax). All are hotter than jalapeños. Unfortunately, the thieving squirrels around here ran off with two of them! One was so hot, they took one bite left it in the garden. We'll have a few Cajun ones left for salsa, but they aren't as good as the Mucho Nacho peppers we had last year. No photos because we've had to put covers on them to protect the remaining peppers from the furry thieves. 

17. Tomatoes.  We tried a type of cherry tomato from seed and they look like they are going to produce exceptionally well! They're green right now, but soon! We also bought two large, beefsteak-style tomatoes. They are also looking good. We won't get enough to supply what we need for our canning needs, but we'll definitely be able to contribute some homegrown tomatoes to the sauces.

18. Green onions. We have limited success when we plant these in our main garden. And NO success when we plant them in the tomato box. RESULT: complete and utter failure. Nothing even sprouted.

19-22. Strawberries, Raspberries, Saskatoon berries, and Rhubarb. Our u-box garden has three parts. One has strawberries. We finally had a good year, and got enough for a couple bowls of ice cream. Now that we know how much water they need, we anticipate good things next year.  Our raspberries grow quickly and get quite bushy, but we never get any berries. RESULT: utter and complete failure. It's been 4 years, so we are pulling the plants. Our rhubarb did well; we've pulled a few stalks already and used about 12 cups in baking and jamming.  We have a saskatoon bush at another property, and it does well every other year. This is an other year. We got an ice cream bucket of berries (about 2.2 kg/5lbs) so far - enough for jam, muffins, and pie. 

We're very fortunate to have the space to do this, and to have had it as a hobby for several years so we weren't starting from scratch this summer.  I hope you new gardening are enjoying digging in the dirt, and are getting some tasty veggies to reward your hard work. And to my fellow long-term gardeners, happy hoeing!

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