Some of you may be aware that I’ve become a little obsessed with gardening this year. So I figured since I just had my birthday I should celebrate by writing about whatever I want… Okay well, maybe at 48 I should get over myself. But I do want to share a little about my garden adventures.
The birthday bit
Before I move on, yes I did have a birthday recently. Yes, my hair is actually going gray. And yes, I am actually 48. Earlier this year I was not doing well, physically or emotionally. But now on this side of the year, and the birthday, I can confidently say I am looking forward to the second half of my life. I am ready start the next phase with renewed energy.
When news of the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I had just completed a scientific conference (without incident thankfully), and immediately cancelled our family’s large St. Patrick’s Day party. This meant I needed to tell upwards of 100 or so friends and family that we would not be having corned beef and cabbage, shepphard’s pie and homemade brown soda bread in my tiny house all jammed in together. It just seemed like a disaster waiting to happen at the time (and now for that matter). I am so glad we decided to cancel. Though I do hope we are able to revive the tradition at some point.
Food supply chain
Then, with too much time at home, I began to stress out about the food supply chain. At that point I wasn’t even freaking out about transmission at supermarkets. So, I asked my husband how he would feel about us adding a raised bed in the back yard. I was really just thinking about one raised bed and a few plants. I had no idea I would go down the rabbit hole of homesteading.
Gardening as stress relief
When my husband agreed to build me three (not one) raised beds, lay mulch and start composting, I was off to the races. I just needed a little encouragement to start this new adventure. I began binging videos from YouTubers like MIGardener, Garden Answer, Roots and Refuge and The Elliot Homestead. I began obsessing about how to develop a potager garden, and I learned how to pickle my own veggies.
Planning for the next seasons/wave of the virus
As much of a newbie as I am, I have learned a fair amount in my first year of gardening. Here are a few things I picked up along the way:
1 Know your zone
If you are a total newbie Iike I was, then you will need to know your growing zone. A good place to start is the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. But that will only get you so far. If you want to know what plants to start when check out the Urban Farmer’s Planting Schedules.
2 Start small
Don’t try to fill your entire yard with soil or mulch. It will cost a fortune and you will be burned out in the process. Start with plants that have a short maturity timeline like Radishes or Lettuce. These can be grown even indoors because they don’t take up too much room!
3 Don’t be afraid to fail
Sorry: I’m here to tell you that some seeds won’t germinate. Sometimes the weather won’t cooperate. And sometimes an experiment won’t work. But I have found that the experimenting is part of the fun.
4 Winter shouldn’t stop you
Many of you know I live in the northeast. Some of you also know I have been away from home for the month of September. So I won’t be able to put my Fall/Winter plants in until I get home in October. I can’t be sure everything will survive because some things are going in a bit late. But that’s okay. Here’s a quick look at a few things I plan to put in when I get back home.
5 Plan your garden
This is one I didn’t do before. But I am happy I have put the work in to plan it now. I have created a spreadsheet identifying the season the item will go in the ground, the plant, the season to harvest, and whether or not I need the seeds. I have also saved a ton of seeds from this spring and summer. I’m looking forward to getting into seed swaps next year. Yup I’m that level of geek.
A little inspiration
Hopefully this has given you a little inspiration to think about a COVID-19 project that might ease your own stress. Thanks for letting me go off on this tangent. I hope you will share some of your own passion projects here.