My knowledge of gardening equated to dirt – literally. I rotated the soil in my mother’s gardens growing up. Online videos and an experienced friend/gardener who shared seeds helped.
The plot of land that received the most sunlight, the one I chose to build my victory garden, has produced a respectable bounty of vegetables. This has shocked me more than anyone else, and by some miracle of luck, I can state with authority that my victory garden (victory over Covid) does not suck.
I will be completely transparent – I outsourced the construction. My wife found a young dude who had worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Namibia, Africa, who had recently returned home due to Covid. He was over there, saving one village at a time (God bless him) by constructing tech labs and private-garden plots. He had the skills… not me… and it was a fair deal.
He saved me three grueling weekends of backbreaking work! The price of the enclosed garden bed – $900 bucks, including eight large 4×4 poles that rest two feet in a root-ridden plot of land. The exterior garden plot cost: $250.
Upon completion, I implemented what my mother made me do every single year when I was growing up in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. I added compost, peat moss, and fertilizer (organic) to the soil – then I flipped the beds and prepped them for planting. That was my only base knowledge base when I started.
Thereafter, I watched a few dozen how-to videos on how to grow tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, and eggplants. Some points were obvious – i.e. when to harvest them, frequency of watering, etc. This was all precipitated by a family friend who shared her seeds – and many of them turned into vegetables. I owe her a big and fat beefsteak tomato, if not half a dozen of them!
A few interesting conundrums that I encountered:
12-foot High Cucumber Vines: They literally grew up the trellis and through the netting. I had one cucumber sprout through and it rested there for two weeks. A gathering with friends prompted me to share some of our veggies but I didn’t have many ripe plants to share at the time. I managed to wiggle the veggie free, it tumbled down the roof netting, and it made a thud when it hit the ground… it weighed over a pound!
Late Plantings / Peppers: If you get them too late into the soil, no dice. I learned that the hard way as I yanked out fruitless and worthless plants that provided zero benefits. A friend with benefits is good (only when you’re single, for the record), but a plant with no benefits is worthless!
When it Comes to Lettuce, Greed is Good: They grow super quick and we enjoyed some of it but I let it linger too long on the vine, per se’. One needs to yield their lettuce harvest earlier than later. Two beds of lettuce ended up tasting too bitter, having lingered too long in the garden itself.
What’s the point of doing this, in light of an unending pandemic, when we’re all doomed anyway? Hope: getting back to basics rejuvenates the soul, and I’ve made this a special project that my son and I have enjoyed. We’ve been tending to our garden for months.
My son, Connor, turned seven last week. When he grows up, he will undoubtedly remember this era we are living through. He’s cementing memories that will last a lifetime. The moments we share when we’re smelling the scent of our tomato plants, picking the ones that are ripe, enjoying an eggplant dish from homegrown veggies, searching through unending cucumber vines to find one that’s ready to pick… he’ll remember these things. And we did it together.
And collectively, we will all get through this together.
Keep calm and carry on, my friends.
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