I never viewed myself as the type to plant a “victory” garden. After all, I grow vegetables almost every year. But for many folks, growing a Covid-19 victory garden was an exciting new endeavor. The sale of gardening supplies skyrocketed. And like so many other changes during the pandemic, once store shelves became empty, they were slow to be restocked.
Yet, even for an avid gardener like myself, the pandemic drastically changed my gardening style and plans. Due to family health issues, I didn’t anticipate growing a garden last year. That is, until the pandemic hit.
Like many Americans, I was taken aback at how quickly this deadly virus spread across our country and into our communities. As the scramble for household supplies left store shelves void of essentials like toilet paper and cleaning products, I began to rethink my gardening agenda. But for me, a Covid-19 victory garden would take a different shape than the vegetable plots I’d grown in the past.
Lacking the time to till and tend a large in-ground garden, I decided to focus on container veggies. In the past, I’d been successful growing a handful of tomatoes and peppers in containers, but these supplemented the beans, squash, melons and potatoes found in my in-ground garden. It was time to get my hands dirty and do some real container-garden experimenting. Using the seeds I had on hand, here’s what I grew:
- Yellow wax beans: Much to my surprise, one 12 inch (30 cm.) pot containing five bush-type plants provided a weekly side dish of beans for my family of two.
- Onions: Another container success, I thinned the young onions to use fresh and allowed the remaining bulbs to grow large. As the tops died back in late summer, I moved the pots under roof to promote drying.
- Corn: Not one of my best attempts, as I had overplanted this nutrient hungry crop in undersized containers. The stalks reached 3 to 4 feet (.9-1.2 m.), then ceased to grow or produce. Next time I’ll limit one corn plant per 5 gallon bucket and incorporate compost into the soil.
- Watermelon: Using a hanging basket, my one Sugar Baby watermelon plant produced a single baseball-sized melon. Not entirely successful, but it was cute and delicious.
- Radishes: I admittedly never had much success with radishes, even in the ground. As usual, I failed to harvest the tangy red globes before they bolted.
- Chinese cabbage: This Napa variety grew poorly during the heat of the summer, but perked up in the fall. I brought it indoors, but it eventually bolted before producing heads.
- Big Bertha peppers: This full-sized variety of bell peppers did amazing in containers. I used a 5 gallon pot per plant and three plants supplied enough fresh peppers for table use. Toward the end of summer, I let several peppers mature to the brilliant red color.
While not all my Covid-19 victory garden experiments were successful, I gained valuable gardening insight and expanded my horizons. In a year which was difficult for all, even small victories give hope for a brighter future!