Garden Diary - April 2020

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Growing Greens on a Windowsill in the Days of Covid-19
Thursday, 2 April 2020

Perhaps you are like me, living on a lovely shaded, forested suburban property.
Maybe you live in a city, in a one-room studio, no access to a garden. It is possible
even in both situations - to grow fresh greens to add to a sandwich or an omelet.
Something better than sprouting the leftover butt from a head of romaine lettuce.

Grocery shopping is a fraught situation. Shopping list? Yes, but which items will be available.

Produce is an available / unavailable situation. Never before have I seen broccoli sold out.

So you decide that this will be the year to have a vegetable garden. The New York Times had a recent article on people's search for seeds to plant victory gardens. In these days of Covid-19 the concept may be good but difficult to accomplish. Around World War I and World War II people were encouraged to dig up their front lawn, green space in parks, around office buildings, at schools. They were not sequestered at home. The first year, turning turf into a vegetable garden is hard work. Some vegetables are direct sown in place. Others - tomatoes, for example - are grown from transplants and who knows if these will be available.

I have a friend with an exemplary large, lush, and very productive vegetable garden. She has been at it for over 20 years. Her journals from previous years have notes on what was planted when, the seed source, the harvest with both dates and yields.

Janet raises "all the usual suspects" and also artichokes, peanuts, and sweet potatoes, here in New Jersey. Tongue in cheek, she used to joke that if the stores ever shut down she and her husband would be just fine, with all the stored, canned, frozen food she puts by.

Before covid-19 supermarkets and health food stores sold sprouts and microgreens. For all I know they still do. But being a woman of a certain age I am doing my best to stay home. Are you also of a certain age? Years and years and more years ago I used to grow sprouts. Back then, the only beans sprouts available were canned. Remember how it was done? Take a spoonful of mung beans. Tip them into a glass canning jar. Having cut a piece of window screening to replace the flat lid, screw on the ring. Add water. Let sit overnight to hydrate the beans, then pour the water out. Rinse, add water, swish around, then drain. Repeat twice a day, adding water, swishing around, and promptly pouring out. In just a few days you'd have deliciously fresh and crunchy bean sprouts. Aha, I thought to myself. I could do this again. But today I can do it better. All I need are seeds.

And this is where Johnny's Selected Seeds in Winslow, Maine came to my aid.
An excellent company, very well known for the diversity and quality of their seeds.
They have an amazingly diverse selection of seeds for sprouts and microgreens.
Of course I asked for sprouting seeds of mung beans, also field pea, and buckwheat.
And three microgreen mixes: Confetti mix, Rainbow Sprinkles, and Spicy Micro mix.

As an aside: Covid-19 has disrupted this company along with so many other across the county. Here, it is not a forced shutdown but a tremendous increase in orders. The employee-owners of the company must also be kept safe. Retail orders placed with standard shipping option will take few days longer than usual. And their retail store in Winslow, Maine is closed, and they will not be hosting farm tours until further notice.

This evening I'll be reading the detailed information available in their on-line catalog and
prepare to start my windowsill garden. Come back soon to follow my growing adventures.

Starting to Sprout: Mung Beans

Starting to Sprout: Rainbow Sprinkles Microgreens

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