What, if anything, are you doing differently (garden or prep-wise) due to Covid?

Paradox Posts: 187 ✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in COVID-19/Coronavirus

I see a lot of evidence that more people are gardening and baking and storing TP. But for those of us that were already gardening, baking & stocking supplies, what are you doing different (if anything) in the wake of this mess? (Either Covid or the recent riots)

On our front, this was the kick in the pants for us to get the gardening going. For nearly two decades we've been in "are we going to stay in this house or try to move to more land" mode (we have 1/3 acre in suburbia, where the local gov says chickens are not normal). In the later half of March, just after all the quarantining started, our oldest son was married. His new father-in-law works in food production, so while we were waiting prior to the ceremony, I took the time to ask him if he thought there would be any significant food shortages. He said things were fine, production was chugging along. Then I asked him if he thought there could be issues in a few months due to lack of raw materials, and he said yes, that definitely could produce a problem. Especially for things that come from overseas. Plus, while we've been locavores for years, we have started seeing some of our usual farm suppliers struggling to keep up with sometimes drastically increased demand.

So, that was our cue to do more for ourselves. We started with ordering strawberry & raspberry plants, 150 & 45 respectively. Then the nursery made a mistake, and sent our order twice. (EEP). we managed to give away half the strawberries and most of the raspberries, but ended up planting another 75 strawberries and 11 more raspberries. But we weren't done! We had had raised beds for years, but due to work pressures and laziness, many had been in disarray, cluttered, etc. We set out to clear the beds, weed, repair, etc. we started seedlings (though not well--we're working on that), and ordered add'l seeds. We cut down the bushes along the north fence so we could plant along the fence in pole beans, corn & squash (regrettably, the later two didn't come up). We are trying melon pits (from David the Good's video in the home grown food summit last month). We also got three fruit trees, a gooseberry, some asparagus and a climbing rose and have added those to our area. And yesterday, one of our tall trees that was blocking a lot of light came down and has opened up the space (plus the stump grinder guy did the row of bushes that we'd removed).

Fortunately for us, our neighbor to the south has also been clearing their property in order to put in a permanent fence, but that means they've cleared tons of brush and 10-15' high buckthorn that was also blocking light for many of our beds (which is why they were in disuse).

All in all, we're doing what we can to really move forward and provide our own sustenance where we can! How about you?



  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 620 ✭✭✭✭

    @Christa Maloy You really thought everything through. I haven't been able to plant a garden in the last few years because of where I live (apartment) and no porch and a fall resulting in a hip replacement but decided to find some space to plant kale, spinach and Swiss chard. I have made seed tapes (these are 14 inches by 11 inches from paper towels and Elmer's glue. I have used this method before and it works for me.

    I noticed when I was cleaning the bed out there was a lot of cat poop. So I determined to find some way to deter cats. Please if you have suggestions add to this conversation. I did find a hot water and black pepper solution which I will try first. Does anyone know if cats dislike cayenne pepper?

    I purchased 2 bags of soil which I put on top of the other soil. The soil underneath looks good and I admit that it should have been mixed with the newer stuff but that didn't happen. Then I realized I like to have some soil to add to the top of the seed tapes. The soil underneath was watered today and the soil on top was removed (a small bit).

    Tomorrow is the day for planting and it is not raining.

  • torey
    torey Moderator Posts: 3,540 admin
    edited June 2020

    Cayenne pepper will deter most animals. But you have to apply it every time it rains or after watering.

  • Leediafastje
    Leediafastje WA State, Olympic Mtns, Zone 8Posts: 68 ✭✭✭

    Well @Christa Maloy I have been working on hard-scapes. New raised beds, walking paths through the forested part of the property, rock borders around my Hosta garden (it's nice to know hostas are edible but, I hope I never have to).

  • chimboodle04
    chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    You sound like my husband and I :) We too live in the suburbs and, while we already did many self-sufficient things, we have taken this opportunity to add a few things that have been stuck in the "well, when we get around to it" list for years :) We doubled the amount of tomatoes that we usually plant and cleared another area that didnt have any particular use to put in additional gardening space. We have planted more fruit shrubs and trees (1 aronia berry, two rosa rugosas, two elderberries, three currents, five blueberries, and two gooseberries), plus added 25 more asparagus roots. We finally took the step and added five laying hens to our property and also bought a breeding pair of Silver Fox rabbits to breed for meat (the doe ended up being pregnant already, so we got eight rabbits for the price of two :) We are currently working on our permanent herb/medicine bed and will have that planted up this weekend once it cools down a bit here... Lots still to do, but it feels great to have so many things here and not just in the planning stage anymore :)

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Central PaPosts: 815 ✭✭✭✭

    @dipat2005 Once the bed has established plants cats are much less likely to be digging. While the plants are young you can lay chicken wire or some sort of netting over them, and I doubt a cat would bother it. They dig in garden beds because it's softer and easier than packed dirt; make it less easy and they probably won't be interested.

    Citrus deters cats. You could try spraying/rubbing some diluted essential oil on containers if you're using them. Leaving citrus peels around might also work.

    I think cayenne is more effective for animals chewing on the plants. A cat is just there for the soft dirt.

    @Christa Maloy We haven't been doing anything drastically different, but we have stepped up our gardening a bit, and stocked up a bit more on food.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,660 admin

    @dipat2005 I read that rue herb repels cats. I planted this in the corners of a small garden once and had no issues, but I don't know if it was the rue or not for sure.

    I haven't tried it since to test it out now in the country with a large garden & lots of farm cats.

  • Paradox
    Paradox Posts: 187 ✭✭✭

    I kind of miss the silver foxes. we used to raise them as well, but I couldn't develop a taste for rabbit meat.

  • Paradox
    Paradox Posts: 187 ✭✭✭

    FINALLY got my potatoes in. Had to buy a bag at the farmer's market that I turned around, cut up and planted.

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 620 ✭✭✭✭

    @blevinandwomba and @LaurieLovesLearning thank you for the great ideas for cats and the garden bed.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,660 admin

    @dipat2005 You are welcome.

  • Jannajo
    Jannajo Ms. Pointe-Claire, QuebecPosts: 173 ✭✭✭

    @crista maloy, I do want to plant potatoes just as u describe, but if I get a bag, do I cut them up? I wanted to plant so many, heard they build up soil very much...not so welcome at my apartment...but I have a little area to try it out!5G summit, on greenmedinfo.com very interesting, part of covid for me, so busy with all this, gardening slowed down somewhat-but for potatoes, that is, very interested for that!ps.I think u shld get 'seed potatoes'?

  • Paradox
    Paradox Posts: 187 ✭✭✭

    we cut most of them in half, but they were fairly small. I can't speak to the rest.. i haven't had real good luck growing potatoes in the past.

  • dottile46
    dottile46 Posts: 437 ✭✭✭

    @2majomix yes, seed potatoes are best. Sometimes regular, not seed potatoes, will work but seed potatoes are best. As for cutting them, the rule of thumb I learned growing up is that there needs to be an inch, 2.54cm, of potato left with each eye. The eye is the little "bud" on a potato.

    Growing up, Dad bought seed potatoes in a burlap bag. Each evening when it came time to get the meal started Mom would have one of us kids get the potatoes ready. We cut off the eyes with the required potato attached, put that in a paper sack, and prepared the rest of that potato for eating. When we found a small one we had to cut it in half as Dad was a firm believer that the wound from cutting it needed to dry before planting to prevent rotting in the ground. Don't know if that worked out 100% of the time but I do know that there were very few bare spots on our potato rows when they came up.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft ✭✭✭ Posts: 1,235 admin

    Hi @dipat2005 you should start a thread "whats the best way to keep cats out of my garden beds" that would be very interesting :)

    My neighbor is having the same problem, except the six cats are his own!

  • One of the things that was always on my list but got moved up due to COVID-19 was getting serious about seed saving. I had experimented with tomato seeds a little bit last year, but I am going to do a lot more now.

    More specifically I made the effort to buy and incorporate two new heirloom and open-pollinated species of tomatoes-- Mortgage Lifter and Abraham Lincoln. Does anyone have experience with these varieties?

  • torey
    torey Moderator Posts: 3,540 admin

    Welcome to the forum @seasparrow32!

    I'm afraid I don't have any hints to offer with these two species but I'm sure someone else on the forum does. Great thing about this forum is there is usually someone with experience for whatever your questions are. The most seed saving I have ever done is the larger, easier-to-harvest seeds like dill.

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Southwestern UtahPosts: 1,636 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Christa Maloy I have never know a cat who could resist a box. A boxed area with sand would perhaps draw the cats away from the garden (assuming that there aren't visible creatures for the cats to watch and hunt.)

  • Paradox
    Paradox Posts: 187 ✭✭✭

    what was funny about that was that he had followed me around the area, walking on the sides and all until I was done.. and THEN he flopped in the bed. Crazy cat. The next weekend, he was out with us, found the catnip patch, got so drunk he passed out and napped for an hour right there.

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Southwestern UtahPosts: 1,636 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Christa Maloy A catnip patch away from food crops is another cat deterrent. (Ah cats, so beautiful, cuddly and yet annoying at times. I have two of them.)

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 271 ✭✭✭

    I have added more chickens and went with heirloom breeds so my flock will sustain itself. I went with straight run chicks so we can put some in the freezer too. We got a greenhouse this year after using a 2x4 frame with regular plastic film for a year to see if we would enjoy it. I spent a tremendous amount of money on seeds but I did get everything with a mind to save seeds this year and not spend so much next year. I had an order get messed up too and ended up with double sweet potato slips so we have loads of them planted. I could only give away a few.

  • Val
    Val Posts: 4 ✭✭✭

    I live in a small terraced house with a long narrow garden and also have an allotment. When I first moved to this house 8 years ago I got rid of the lawn and cultivated it quite intensely. I have 7 fruit trees and several fruit bushes around the edges, have chickens and a greenhouse, and 8 small vegetable beds. On my allotment I have 4 large, (10' x 4'), raised beds, plus a couple of flat beds and a lot more soft fruit.

    Normally I grow stuff in the garden which I want to pick fresh, such as peas, salad stuff and brassicas, and leave the root crops, onions, etc, to the allotment. This year, just as it was time for sowing everything, we were unsure, (in the UK), whether we would be allowed to go to our allotments so I've planted a little of everything at home. (At one point, overzealous police did stop us going to the allotments but that was soon resolved.) I utilised every bit of space, filling every container I could find to give me more growing areas. As an experiment I have even grown a dozen parsnips in deep tubs from an old wormery; so far they seem to be doing well. I

    At the moment everything is the garden is looking good but the seeds I sowed early on the allotment did not do well. When I caught the virus, several friends offered to water for me but a lot either did not germinate or, if they did, then they were eaten by pests. I re-sowed everything a couple of weeks ago which was a bit late but they are just starting to come through.

    Most of my friends have also sown more than normal, partly so that we can give it away to others; every bit we can grow relieves pressure on the shops. We have noticed that prices in the stores have definitely increased. I sell my surplus eggs and find that I have plenty of ready buyers. It looks as though I shall have bumper crops of blackcurrants and gooseberries, and the plum and pear trees are heavily laden, so that's more to share with friends.  I was able to give away about 50 tomato plants but friends have been generous with salad and brassica seedlings when I lost mine, and one person gave me a load of basil which I have always struggled to grow.

    COVID19 has brought out the best in folks and with many people being furloughed they have more time to spend on their plots; many of them have never looked so good. I have been saving seeds for years and help to run a local seed swap. Tomatoes and legumes are easy to save and every year I save a different brassica, such as broccoli or kale so that they don't cross pollinate. The difficulty is that the brassicas need to stay in place for a second year before they set seed, which requires a bit of planning with crop rotation.

    The sustainable food group I belong to has created several community fruit and herb plots and have had to find ways of working round the isolation/social distancing rules to keep them tended, but where there's a will there's a way. It's easier now lockdown is easing, and as long as we don't get a second spike we will all hopefully be able to socialise on our plots again soon.

    Take care and stay safe everyone.

  • Paradox
    Paradox Posts: 187 ✭✭✭

    Welcome Val! Sounds like things are going pretty well, despite what this year is throwing at us! I love that you are sharing with others and others sharing with you. That's really what it's all about, eh?

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,660 admin

    Welcome here, @Val!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,660 admin

    We never worry about the cut drying over. We cut & plant. Our rule is 3 eyes per potato/cutting, eyes up if possible.

    If you use store potatoes instead of seed potatoes, you run a greater risk of introducing scab or other diseases into your soil. Some stay in the soil over a long time & can affect future crops.

    What I find a fascinating subject is growing potatoes from seed, although that takes, I think, 3 years to real harvest & certainly has extra work involved. But then again, you will have seeds most suited to your soil type & the specific conditions to that year. If you save the seed from plants not affected by the beetles/foliar diseases, you will end up with your own bug/leaf fungus resistant strain.

  • dianne.misspooz
    dianne.misspooz Posts: 104 ✭✭✭

    This was the year that I planned on having my vegetable garden. I spent last year setting up my raised beds and filling them with organic material to stew over the winter. Because of the Wuhan, I made sure I didn't procrastinate one bit in getting going. So, I guess it spurred me on.

  • annebeloncik
    annebeloncik Posts: 61 ✭✭✭

    I wondered about possible food supply disruptions, too... Then seeing farmers having to throw out or destroy crops and even livestock because they had nowhere to process or sell them, my heart broke. My husband and I have been talking for a couple of years about wanting to be more responsible with our food sources, and I have been trying to buy locally sourced meat and produce as much as I can. My gardening has been mostly for my own enjoyment until this year, I sort of just grew things to grow things! But this year I tried to add more of what we would (or should) eat, and have been more careful about planning spaces. Ironically, having to teach from home allowed me to get started in the garden earlier, which helped!

  • ieducate2008
    ieducate2008 Posts: 40 ✭✭✭

    I decided to plant some different types of veggies. I planted a wasabi radish this year to see how it grows. So far, so good. I also planted some celery and it's doing well. However, my cannabis and scorpion peppers aren't faring too well. Maybe because it's been so cloudy, rainy, and cool for the past two weeks. Hopefully, they'll do better once the weather changes.

    I also had a lot of swiss chard grow from last year. I have a food dehydrator. So, I picked a lot of chard and dried it. I add the dried chard to soups, smoothies, and scrambled eggs. It feels good to use the food that I've grown and harvested!

  • Paradox
    Paradox Posts: 187 ✭✭✭

    It sure does! I'm dehydrating lemon balm & spearmint today in my solar ovens.

  • JaneMcTavish
    JaneMcTavish Posts: 26 ✭✭✭

    This year we've planted the garden space, 4 very large pots, and extra plants in straw bales. Oh, and planted a potato patch where the grass died (a tarp was left there so why not plant there this year?). Another huge part of our yard is being planted with Milkweed for Monarchs. Also plants that can be foraged adding to our food supply. AND trying Oat grass. So much to learn and enjoy.

"Italy is known for tomatoes. Thailand for chilies. Germany for sauerkraut. But tomatoes originated in Peru. Thailand imported chilies from Central America. Sauerkraut started in China. Everything is a remix—and the world is better for it. Share what you know. Learn from others."

-Marjory Wildcraft