The Return of the Victory-Over-Covid Garden!

In a world beset by impatient adults waiting for vaccines, a homeowner in North Jersey takes another stab at growing vegetables, despite having a gardening IQ on par with the vegetables themselves.

Year one turned out better than expected… much better, thanks to the almighty God throwing me a bone… and consistent watering.

This father and son gardening project kicked off last Spring and despite having limited knowledge about how to maintain a garden, results surpassed expectations. Tomatoes and cucumbers aplenty, we also grew eggplants, peppers, lettuce… but not corn. My maize died on the vine despite having grown four-foot-tall stalks. It was not due to the lack of fertilizer – gobs of Miracle-Gro did nothing to resuscitate these plants, but you can see for yourself how year #1 was a relative success.

This stemmed in part from not having to commute every day, the aforementioned fertilizer, and consistency. My son and I tended to our garden on a regular basis—no vegetable was left behind.

Year #2 wipes the slate clean and this year we will nix the Miracle-Gro. This requires tender care at the onset of the gardening season; quality soil is a must if we are to exceed last year’s harvest.

Fortunately, I had an exceptional teacher growing up—my mother was a fantastic gardener. She was also good at putting honey-do lists together so I was responsible for turning over the soil every year. However, I learned the value of using quality soil, peat moss and some type of fertilizer. Here’s what we used in our gardens.

If you are wondering what’s in the Tupperware container, it’s a collection of eggshells and coffee grinds saved over several months. Our friend, Lyubov (a gifted gardener) suggested doing so as it adds calcium and other organic elements to the soil.

Lobster compost came highly recommended, and unlike cow manure, it doesn’t stink like a bovine’s sphincter. One of my garden beds was built late in the season and with lobster compost out of stock, the manure we used stunk worse than a high school gym locker.

Plant-Tone is a brand I’ve used in the past and it is a slow-releasing and organic fertilizer. Given the results, I decided to stick with it.

Lastly, peat moss helps to retain moisture and it aerates the soil throughout the season. That’s the theory and if it was good enough for my mom… well then, that makes it a fact!

We also used a trellis for one purpose: stringing tomatoes. This ingenious set up is used to wrap string around the stems of the plants so that they grow vertically. It worked brilliantly, however the cucumbers grew up the sides out the top, damaging the netting.

Regarding the netting and fencing we used, a chipmunk or something penetrated it and ruined some vegetables so we’ll try to capture the varmint. He’s still in there digging holes beneath the garden beds. Depending on the day of capture, the critter may receive mercy and find a new home in a nearby park…

…Or it may resemble a scene out of Good Fellas.

Wish us luck!

Picture from last season.

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