Planting Bigger Vegetable Garden Because Of COVID-19 Coronavirus?

corn growing

How many of you are going to plant more this year in your vegetable gardens?

And, what more of? I’m curious (as I’m sure many others here are) how gardening plans may be adjusted this year because of this Coronavirus or other reasons.

As I type this there’s snow flying here today. The ground is white, and still frozen once you get several inches below the surface. Wait, isn’t it April? Oh that’s right – I live way up north… HOWEVER, I am formulating plans about my own gardens this upcoming growing season. I do plan to grow more than I did last year.

Why? Because I’m getting the inkling, the gut feeling, that I should be thinking about Level 4 preparedness. Just in case. We might end up somewhere in between Level 3 & 4, given the still unfolding COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic situation – and all the resulting fallout.

Mrs.J and I can survive for a long time without a garden or other external sources of food. But it’s dumb to simply rely on one’s food storage as a crutch – when it looks like our world is likely heading towards harder leaner times ahead. So I’m going to “beef it up” (my gardening, that is…).

I have said this many times. Survival gardening is largely about calories. I am focusing on those few vegetables that are higher in calories, though will supplement with other vegetables that we like.

“Hey Ken, what are you going to be growing this year?” Well, I’m glad you asked. I’m going to keep it short and simple. It’s going to be corn, potatoes, bell peppers, green beans, and some tomatoes. That’s my current plan.

Corn and potatoes are the highest in calories among the vegetables. There will be a combination of canning, freezing, and other storage methods after harvest.

[ Read: Garden Vegetable Calories List ]

We still have lots and lots of tomato sauces that we canned from previous harvests, so we’re pretty set in that department. Will grow some just to have fresh while they’re in season.

The green and red bell peppers that we grew last year (and jalapeno) were so, so, so good during this winter (we froze them). We still have a lot left. But we’re going to do more.

Last year we did not do green beans because we had a good amount leftover that we had canned. But they’re getting low so we’re going to do more this year.

I am increasingly concerned about the state of our world, our food supply, and ease of availability. I am also concerned about simply going to the grocery store with Coronavirus lurking. For those reasons, coupled with the fact that homegrown is so much tastier and better, I’m going to up the garden production this year.

What about you?

[ Read: You Won’t Be Eating Much Meat After SHTF ]

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121 Comments

  1. Ken, that time year in the Northeast, watch the snow melt and plan the garden. Expanding my raised bed garden this year.

    Purchased items need to start seedlings, items to be planted:
    Tomatoes (Beefsteak and Early Girl)
    Blue Lake Bush Beans, I stagger plant these. (the pole bean thing-too much work)
    Cukes, two varieties, one bush
    Swiss Chard, grows well here, many cuttings
    Scallions (plants can overwinter)
    Straight Yellow Squash
    Zucchini

    First time to try growing potatoes in a tiered planter, a learning experience, I live in potato heaven over here, farm trucks sell them everywhere. Also doing container gardening to expand.

    Have done corn before, too many critters here, they get it every time.

    Waiting for the frost to leave too. May is spring here.

    1. I hear ya… I believe you’re over in Maine somewhere – we have a short growing season up here…

      Will be curious to discover regarding your potato experiment. Awhile back I tried growing them in barrels. But had poor results. Oh well. Will be going back to hill rows which I had good production in the past. Just a lot of work keep covering them up.

      I had bad results with squash/zucchini in the past due to short growing season bad luck (frost 1st week of June and then again 1st week of September). I envy those who live in in more lenient growing zones.

      Every year has new experiments! I’m just trying to decide on what that might be this year ;)

      1. Ken

        Don’t give up on the potato barrels yet. I did some web searching on it because I want to try it too. Apparently there are two types of potatoes, determinate and indeterminate. The determinate type will grow fine in 5 gallon buckets. The indeterminate type are the ones that grow several sets of tubers and are ideal for barrels.

        I don’t have room here in Chicago to do the barrels, but I may try some buckets. Just gotta find someplace I can order the seed potatoes.

        Hollis & Nancy’s Homestead on YouTube has some great videos on the bucket method. A little lengthy but he shows the planting and all growth stages. After watching it I feel even I could do it.

        1. Grits
          Make sure anything that produces under the ground is planted during the dark of the moon. Meaning the moon is not visible to us on earth, yes it does make a difference on IF you have tubers that produce or not.
          Learned from my stepdad and he was garden wizard when it came to growing food. He raised peanuts in this area when others said it could not be done.

          Rule of thumb: Anything that produces above the ground in a full moon phase, under the ground dark of the moon. May you have lots of lucky dirt under your finger nails.😎

          1. Antique Collector
            I’m not sure where but I’ve heard that before about the above and below ground moon phases. Sounds reasonable enough to me. 😁

  2. I will be growing more this year seeing i didn’t grow a garden last year. Old man is redoing a raised bed that fell down- almost. He is changing to corrugated metal roofing for sides, and putting it down on the bricks. A little more bending for me. We will be planting the whole garden plus a corn patch and an extra berry patch all enclosed. Probably no hot peppers, although I need about 2 for my relish along with yellow squash and zucchini. Our church is asking for someone with land and water to have a garden to help feed the church. Everyone would help but I find everyone has certain ways they garden and no one wants to follow orders. But we have very rocky land and not much water here so we are out. It is a good idea though. We have always brought some extra in to church, and canned a lot. Hope the weather cooperates. Our growing season is June to Sept, but I cover and stretch it from May to Oct.

  3. You’re smart to plant as much as possible, for exactly the reasons you’ve outlined. The feed stores and nurseries in my area have all had lines of cars because everyone I’ve talked to has the same concerns. They’re letting you order online, then they load your car when you drive through the parking lot because demand has been through the roof and they understand that people share your concerns.

    I’m trying potatoes for the first time, using the potato crates mentioned on Old World Garden because they seem to be the least aggravation for a novice to try. I attempted a large garden years ago, but the squirrels and bugs seemed to undo all my efforts, so I’m going with container gardening this year since I can keep those better protected.

    Strawberries are already turning red, squash is growing larger and tomatoes are about chest high. Spinach is going crazy, as are Brussels sprouts. Lots of fresh herbs are taking off too. Growing zone 8 has some advantages on getting started earlier than y’all, but our heat comes quick and makes it struggle to keep everything from burning up.

    As many have mentioned in recent weeks, now is the time to try your hand, make your mistakes and learn as much as you can before these gardens become a necessity. I will never have the patience of a Lauren, although I do marvel at her tenacity and spirit. 😃 But we can each become better and with those successes move on to the next phase of things like learning to can.

    Thank you Ken. For all that you teach us, and for using your time and talents on this blog to allow others to inspire and teach as well. It truly is making such a huge difference in each of our lives!

    1. It’s still too early to plant most things but I plan to add potatoes to my garden this year.

  4. I planted the largest garden that I have in several years. Will have to wait until the sweet corn comes off to plant peas and butter beans (that’s cow peas and lima beans for the uneducated :) ) .

    Potatoes don’t do well for me. The last time I tried I didn’t get my seed back. I am planting sweet potatoes instead.

    While making the last big box store trip I ran into two ladies. They were buying a few seed packets and potted peppers, tomatoes etc. Their garden will the back yard and will be small in comparison to most of us but… they were city dwellers and while talking they told me that it would be wise to grow some of your own food this year. Some are waking up, I hope it is not too late for them.

    1. Deep South
      You are not able to do the 3 sisters planting?

      Corn/climbing beans/squash, if I have the right mix of vegetables.

      1. Antique Collector

        I could but I have much much higher yields by planting them separately. In my area the three have such different growth characteristics that it would be impractical. I have to plant my sweet corn in late February to get a harvest and squash mid March or the seed will rot in the ground. The peas and beans won’t germinate until the soil is warm, around the end of April, when the sweet corn is well on it’s way to being ready tassel.

        Everyone has to know their area and how you garden in it I suppose. Good Luck with yours!

  5. I had everything planned out…then I realized this morning that I have planned out the main garden but nothing outside it! The greenhouse is going to be even MORE full. : )

    I’m planting for my brother and his family as well (they’ll probably be moving in early June or late May) so I’m discontinuing some of my projects to plant more “traditional” stuff. Sort-of.

    Not really because of COVID–I’ve been moving in the direction of making the whole yard a food production area for more than five years. Each year I get a little closer. Hopefully I’ll have enough time.

  6. We increased house garden about 20% this year, as well as tilling up again as big a garden in a field that I will help my son with and probably take over responsibility for when he’s tired of it.I am planting 2 rows red Pontiac potatoes which grow well and store for me.1 row sweet potatoes. 6 rows sweet corn , 50 tomatoes 24 peppers various kale, lettuce,cabbage ,brocolli, and parsnips for 1st time because I read you can leave them in the ground thru winter, dig when needed.garden rows are 30 ft long.And you know we have offered garden space to 2 or 3 family members,, and no one wants to garden.I tried to help them!

    1. Maggie’s farm
      Hunger is great motivator.
      It only takes them not receiving the bounty from your labor, mho.

      1. Antique collector, you are probably right we have always given away lots, but it really irks me that so many are so lazy they won’t help themselves or see the writing on the wall.We shouldn’t have to feel responsible for non prepping others.Give a man a fish…………….. Stay well all.

        1. I have had the same response from people that want the food from the garden but are not willing to work in the garden to get it. I share with several people that are unable to help or will help me in some way, but the ones that are able to help by won’t will get nothing.

  7. Like Ken, we will be planting for calories. I have three different corns to try this year and they are all dent, flint, or flour corns. I will see which do best in our area. I do have an early sweet corn to try a test bed, and if it grows well I will save the seeds for it. I also do large areas of winter squashes; all kinds. I’m trying to expand the beds of dry beans. I’ve found the heirlooms do best. Last year I grew borlotti beans and the bugs barely touched them. They last all winter and spring. We still have some small pumpkins and about 9 butternut squash to eat. I grow our potatoes in potatoes boxes, starting with a 12″ high box, and we add sides upward (2×6″) as the plants grow. We staple hardware cloth to the bottom as it keeps rodents out. It’s the only way I have had success. Sweet potatoes go into a full size box made the same way. We just build them about 6-8 boards high (about 2-1/2′ square), fill with soil mixed with vermiculite and some sand and plant the sweet potatoes in them. Drill some drainage holes in the sides for heavy rains. I always harvest here about Halloween. We just un screw the front of the boxes and harvest onto a tarp. They do fantastic. We also had delivered a new disc tiller today to start two more garden bed areas. And each year we expand the orchard, small fruits (berries), grapes and currants. The blackberries do fantastic every year. Must be the chickens’ fertilizer! There are good years and bad years for everything. I also distribute the same plants around the property as some do better in different areas. due to sunlight and/or microclimate. And I keep everything away from the neighbors who spray our plants with Roundup – and laugh.

    I wish everyone much success with their gardens this year. Grow anything and everything. Learn to save seeds. Lauren is a huge contributor here on seed-saving! Blessings to all……

  8. I’m planting potatoes instead of corn because I want some long term stomach filling harvest.

  9. Super worried about the food supply/shortage that I think is coming. I’m tripling the size of my garden this year. Planting tomatoes, peppers, onions and some carrots inside the greenhouse. Squash, cukes, potatoes, lots of beans (dry and green), peas, blueberries, strawberries, garlic, more carrots and onions outside, herbs and some fodder. I’d like corn, but the short grow season isn’t really conducive. Have new fruit trees I planted last fall so don’t expect anything for a few years but at least they are started. Still need to find some elderberry starts.

    Also we are getting a starter flock of sheep in a couple weeks to increase the protein produced on the homestead. A ram, 2 ewes and their lambs. Have to get the fence and shelter up, but has snowed the last two days. Already have the laying chickens and meat rabbits. Had our first rabbit litter 3 days ago, so so cute.

    I’m actually really excited to see how much I can produce this year. We started the homestead/life style last year after moving onto our acreage. This will be only my second year of gardening. I did better than expected last year for a first timer, really good for peppers and tomatoes, not bad on potatoes, one ear of corn….so/so on a few other things, I even got two very small cantalopes and a watermelon.

    1. MontanaHome, there is a very short season corn that was developed in Alaska. It grows very short; 3-4 ft tall, and is ready in about 50 days or so. I think it was called something like Yukon Chief….I read about it on Patrice Lewis’ blog a few years ago: Rural_revolution.com. If you want to try corn in your area.

    2. MontanaHome
      Know the general area which you are gardening, yes the seasons are rather short there. You may have to look at putting in a gardening dome which can be kept warm and along with grow lights so you can extend the season for foods such as for corn/melons.

      1. AC- besides the greenhouse I was going to look at constructing some hoop houses to extend the season. Is a gardening dome different?

        1. Hoop houses are economically the way to go. The domes cost more but are designed so that they will take high winds, snow from what I have looked at on the sights which sells them. Something to think about for a project later on for your area.

          Hoop houses, try to acquire the plastic covering that are sold through the specialized garden producers. Those materials are constructed for years of endurance in & for the extreme weather conditions that hit that area.

          Kulafarmer may have an idea of what supply houses to these purchase these materials from at a reason price. Had a magazine from Farmtec(believe that is the name), they sold items for the small to major farmer/rancher.

  10. Zone 10 South Florida Checking in I am on my second crop coming out of my winter harvest. Carrots spinach, beets.
    I just expanded my garden by 500 sqft. I use the sqft gardening method. The sand soil is full of root knot nematodes by me and it is difficult to produce in the sand.

    In Early February As an emergency procedure I laid down 4 – 30 ft. rows of bagged top soil, then punctured holes on the bottom with a nail board for drainage then flipped the bags over cut planting holes right into the top of the plastic. I have bush bean and corn growing as my primary crops in the bags. Plus all the other compliment euro veggies. cucumber, mator, squash melon. Next I am working on expanding my stweet tator area and lining out cuttings on raised beds. Its the middle of dry season right now sweet tators need to get rooting in by mid May.
    dang hot n dry right now. Have to keep up with watering and we are also being invaded by dang gum florida jumphoppers by the hundreds aka grass hopper ( what my son calls them).
    Using Seven Pyrethrin to control them for now. Basically killing them off before they reach the garden.
    I walk the garden twice a day now and watching everything grow carefully as if my family’s life depends on it.

  11. Definitely planting bigger and more. Am doing a wide variety of veggies, all heirloom except for our sweet corn and a variety of kabocha squash that my sweety loves. I try to start as much as possible in the greenhouse, that way im planting a growing plant, just makes for a more productive garden, less holes! So the greenhouse has a bunch of trays, started planting saturday and already have stuff poking up.
    Cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, celery, 3 kinds of lettuce, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, thyme, sage, oregano, basil, 3 kinds of onions, 2 kinds of tomato, 3 kinds of peppers. I will start another round in 3 weeks. Most of this will go in ground in 3-4 weeks. I am also direct seeding beans, peas, snow peas, carrots and the corn I mentioned. The peas, corn, and beans will be 1600-2000sf plots double rows about 5’ center to center, started every 14 days till i run out of space. Have about 3 acres i plan on planting to corn, some of that will be 3 sisters, in fact most of it, so after the corn is up at 3’ i will seed pole beans, then after the beans start climbing i will transplant squash started in 4”square pots. The carrots will be a double row, 50’+/- long started every 3 weeks, the field im using is 180’ rows 5 rows wide. I plan on using 2 acres for broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, the birds dont seem to damage this stuff as much. The tomatoes will go in my tunnel, have a 24’x40’ tunnel so going to start 3 separate batches of tomato, will grow lettuce in with that as i can, otherwise everything else is going into my netted garden that is about 7000sf.
    Obviously this will be more than i can use, am thinking i can maybe make my truck payments etc since im not sure about the work i had lined up under the circumstances. Plus figure maybe i can help out with feeding some of the many folks finding themselves unemployed in our community. Its going to be rough.
    God willing it will all work out!

    1. Just a further note
      These are unprecedented times, our state economy is completely into the shitter, there will be problems. Gardens will be how some folks make it, they will be a way for folks like me who are $ poor but have the space and the ability to help some in need. There will be many in need. I can not in good conscience just turn my back on everybody. I just hope that things stay civil.

      1. Kula, in MHO, you definitely win the biggest garden award, I envy your ability to go big!😊

        1. Maggies farm
          I was growing commercially, stopped because of a number of reasons, the one good thing with having stopped is that it gave me time to let my fields go fallow and to plant cover crops, so my organic matter levels are pretty good, i just feel this is a good time to start growing again, for our use and to maybe help out, if nothing else for neighbors and family. I really dont want to grow for market, but the best way to keep a steady flow since we can grow year round is to grow a fairly robust rotation. You can grow a lot on 8 acres even if it is willy nilly,,,, i like doing it too, brings me peace.

          1. That is a noble pursuit, and a very good use of ones time. 😇

    2. Kula
      Your post put a huge smile on my face because this is where you are meant to be! I am really happy that you’re going back to your land to grow a’plenty!

  12. I’ve got lettuce, kale, onions, carrots, asparagus and collards coming up and squash, zucchini, peppers, cucumber and tomato seedlings doing very well but not ready to transplant. My red potatoes are in the ground and the sweet potato slips will be here mid April. I’ll plant my pole/bush beans, corn and pumpkins as soon as frost is not an issue and plan on canning a ton of vegetables this summer as usual not just because of the virus.

  13. Yes, I’m planting a much larger garden, even though my yard has more shady areas than sunny. I’ve got about seventy starts of various veggies in my living room right now. They go out on the deck pretty much every day, and back inside at night. I’ve always started with small plants, but this year I began with seeds for the first time. My deck gets plenty of sun, so I have had many containers with veggies in the past, but I’m just feeling like it’s time to take the step of building some raised beds this year out of concrete blocks. The largest garden I’m planning to make will be about 12-15 feet long and 3-4 feet wide.

    Here’s where I’d like some advice. I’m thinking it would be nice to be able to place a plastic cover over the garden for cold nights in the early spring or late fall, to help extend the season. I’m considering placing something (PVC pipes?) sticking straight up every so often out of the concrete blocks. I could fill the rest of the hole with rocks to hold them in place. (Here in my Ozarks back yard, I’ve got rocks EVERYWHERE; pushing up out of the “soil” every time I mow.) Then what? Should I get connectors for them and have them bridge across the top? I saw a picture on one site where someone used Pex pipe as arches going across. I’ve never done anything with PVC or Pex, so I’m not sure about how hard it is to connect them, whether I’ll need special tools, etc. Anyone got good advice or know of a site that shows this well? I’ve only just started researching this, but I’d like to get it all of the materials ordered by this weekend so I can put it together this next week.

    1. Hi Wendy, If you want to use PVC pipe you should be able to use the thinwall PVC used in a lot of lawn irrigation in half inch or three quarters inch diameter. If I remember correctly it is termed “schedule 20” pvc. You would be able to ask an associate at HD, Lowes, or whatever store you have available to point you to it. I think it comes in 10 and 20 foot lengths. It is flexible enough that you should be able to make a “U” shape out of it and stick it in your cinder block holes and you shouldn’t need any connectors. If you are in a cold area you may have to lay it in the sun for a while to warm it so that you can form it. Maybe wrap it around a barrel to get the shape you want. On the subject of cinder blocks though, I have heard of differing opinions over time of the “fly-ash” that is incorporated into them during manufacture and different chemicals that leach out into your veggie bed over time. Your choice. Good luck, Loclyokel

    2. Wendy,

      I started with concrete raised beds, but regret the decision now. I have rocky soil as well, and consequently, the blocks have shifted and lifted, making what originally was nicely lined up looking pretty ragged. Unless you do a heck of a lot of prep work grading and graveling, there might not be a way to keep things from shifting, and if more than one block high, is a lot of work to maintain.

      I started with 2 4’x20′ beds and have been building out around them using untreated cedar instead of block. Menards has the right size boards if you don’t have a local mill nearby. Another thought, those concrete blocks have gotten heavier and heavier as the years have passed, lol! Replacing my original beds is next winter’s project but I’m not looking forward to it!

      GardeningRevolution was the initial “raised beds from concrete block” proponent (I think), but then Len Pense, who started it, passed away and it’s been taken over by another couple. Their products are pretty pricey. The website has changed so there’s not that many photos of the raised beds he had, tho’ I think they’re still selling his original video class.

      To answer your question directly, yes, you can use PVC pipe, but if the pipe is just in the concrete blocks, even filled with smaller rocks, you may find those “ribs” will shift also. Just something to think about.

      Good luck!

    3. Thank you, loclyokel, Kulafarmer, and FinallyOuttaCA for your responses on my garden question a few days ago. Based especially on FOC’s regrets on concrete blocks on rocky soil, I decided to just invest in additional pots and keep expanding my garden that way.

      To this end, I made my first venture out of the house in over two weeks. I ordered some stuff to ship to me, but went to a big box store to pick up the stuff they wouldn’t ship or deliver without a huge charge. I wore a mask and gloves; saw a couple of other people wearing one or the other, though no one with both. Several people gave me a second look, but didn’t make any comments. The line to pick up orders placed on line was the busiest part of the store. People were polite and stayed apart from each other, except for a couple of folks who just seemed oblivious. Since I was there, I was going to buy a few plants that I didn’t already have planted, but they closed before I could do that. Bummer. Got home, unloaded the truck, and immediately took a shower–don’t want to bring in any more germs!

      My little baby plants are doing so well; I wish I could plant them outside now, but the temperature swings (40 degrees between this afternoon and this evening) are probably a little much for them, not to mention us not being past the frost date. They’re not so big that they need to be replanted yet, so I’ll wait a little longer.

      Stay safe, everyone!

  14. I’m trying potatoes for the first time, and mangel wurzel too. I learned about mangel wurzel from the great Harry Turtledove trilogy “Supervolcano”. Its a fodder beet that grows up to 15 lbs, a tremendous amount of storable food.

    Here in central Texas we can get a spring crop and fall crop, so we going to max out our calorie production.

      1. Lots of options on Amazon, although shipping may be backed up now.

        I started mine in December, when the outbreak started. Almost ready for harvest.

  15. Question: my parents used to use store bought potatoes for starts, can you still do this or are they treated to not produce eyes? Also, can you do it with sweet potato? Trying to go with calorie dense easily stored things. Going to give beans for drying a shot this year…a grand experiment I should have done sooner.

    1. Kevin H,
      I believe most store potatoes are sprayed to keep them from sprouting.They don’t look good in the store with sprouts. A friend last year tried some store bought spuds and grew nothing. You are better off to buy seed potatoes from a garden store.

      1. If I forget a bag in the fridge for a couple of weeks, they sprout. That’s how I’ve started my potato beds.

        1. Bobcat and all yall,
          Costco sells bags of small organic potatos, usually red, purple, yellow/white, these readily start growing, are inexpensive and prolific, that is if you dont eat them all first!

        2. I’ve done that in the past too. Even though grocery-store bought non-organic potatoes are said to be less than ideal, I’ve had success. Though I do look for organic “seed potatoes” these days…

          1. Ken, a nice organic potato grower in Maine: Maine Potato Lady (dot com). I have used her for years. She sells lots of reds, yellows, whites, fingerlings. Super business, check it out!!

    2. KevinH, I bought a few organic store sweet potatoes, cut them in half, put toothpicks in them to hold picks on rim in red solo cups with water. Within two weeks, I have multiple plants starting on these. The name was Sweet Crimson. I let these develop nice root system before pulling free from potato.

      I Only have one window that lets good light in, the other windows have special glass that keeps out some of the beneficial rays (what was I thinking 30 years ago?). So this year, I ordered four LED grow lights to help my plant starts get a much better start.

      Find organic sweet potatoes if you can for better start.

    3. Store bought potatoes are treated with chemicals to reduce sprouting. I would look into finding seed potatoes. Often available during the spring at various retailers.

      1. Ken/ all yall,
        Most potatos that are organic are un treated, they will generally grow,

        Dont eat potatoes turning green, they will make you sick

        1. Thanks for pointing that out regarding organic potatoes. You don’t necessarily need to buy “seed potatoes” – so long as what you’re getting are organic. Typical (non-organic) grocery-store potatoes have been treated to minimize sprouting – which is not what you want when trying to grow your own!

    4. KevinH, if available get potatoes prepared for seed potatoes, generally they are more productive.When purchasing from the grocery ,there is the risk of getting the potato blight…a virus in the ground. no way tog et rid of it… Sweetpotato’s can get organic from grocery store, an d put in ground on side and they will sprout, but no time for that in zone 7 now., they do not handle frost at all..and need a long grow season.. from 80-130 days…last i heard hoss tools had sweet potato slips.I have grown my own from last years potatoes… I have better production for sweetpotatoes than regular potatoes..
      Beans for drying is not hard..You can do it…. can plant pinto beans, and get a half runner bean… pick them small for snap beans, string beans and allow them to remain on vine until bean inside matures for “shelly beans”,. let them dry for pinto’s,and seed.

  16. Double down. Trying potatoes this year and about to add snap peas and corn this weekend. I’ll likely have to go raised bed as that has been the most successful for us in the past. Ordering a green house kit next commission check so I can build a better winter garden. We still buy from the store and our small garden was just enough to augment our needs when we couldn’t locate good fresh vegetables. Have 3 new peach trees , a loquat and 2 new figs planted. They won’t produce fruit this year but my goal was to add 5 + fruit trees every year for at least 5 years running. On the second year of the fruit trees and am learning a lot. They should start producing by year 5. I allocated 7 acres to just fruit trees so I won’t stop until it is producing enough to make me feel as comfortable as NRP does with TP

  17. I am doing the intense square foot gardening again. In an urban area with limited space. Adding containers as well as repurposing some flower beds. Ordered bedding plants for delivery 1st of May. They showed up yesterday. I think the company was afraid they would be shut down or maybe concerned about workforce. I plant a wide variety of vegetables and can the excess. My seed starts went well so I will share tomatoes and peppers with my kids and neighbors. Wish I had already moved out of town. My last garden before I left the farm for college had over an acre by the field well plus a large plot by the house. 36 tomatoes 6 rows green beans planted with tractor 12 zucchini plants (we shredded and froze). Also 2 quarter mile rows sweet corn. Strawberry bed and large rhubarb plants. I hope someday to be doing that again. I miss it.

  18. I’m thinking about having a garden again this year, but not because of the virus, but because # 1 it will give me something to do and give me a purpose in life and # 2, my great grandson wants pumpkins. The last time I had a garden was when my wife of 48 yrs was in the nursing home and then later in hospice, then after she was gone I just let the gardens go and the deer and the racoons had a field day with all the yummy stuff that they got. Maybe this year.

    1. alfie:
      I believe we has conversations last time you posted…..
      Do a Garden for your grandson AND to honor your late wife.
      As i did at first, than it becomes something more than just a Garden it becomes part of your soul.
      Most will not understand this, but many here on MSB do.
      Trust an old fart. You will never forget the feeling of seeing the expression of your grandson as you tell him stories of your wife as you share the Garden with him….

      1. NRP
        “Do a Garden for your grandson AND to honor your late wife”
        I take my grandkids to the garden often and I feel like I’m following in my Dad’s footsteps when I am in the garden. Thanks for sparking some good memories.

  19. We also are mindful and concerned with the situation of the world and our country. A large concern is of course food availability . Everyone we talk to has an uneasy concern about the future.One of the reasons we moved to our locale is that it is a rural area and most folks here,but not all, have a garden and put up food in a pantry.
    We are growing more potatoes this year. We are shooting for 140-150 pounds.We need about 15 pounds out of that for next year seed.We are planting more carrots, squash,cabbage and peas this year. We grow 45# of sweet storage onions and that is a year supply.
    It takes some calculating but we try to figure what 2 people use over the year and plant accordingly.

  20. Gardening: Received an email from the younger sister with a photo of a seed vault.
    The caption was from the one niece who had received it for a Christmas gift from her sister and this year they are going to put it use.

    The baby sister said…well it is about time the other half of the family finally got it. lol

  21. As I mentioned before, I’m trying potatoes in rows with the tractor. 50# at first, maybe add more later. Rows of carrots, maybe try growing some sugar beets for grins. Pumpkins for the DH, and maybe tomatoes under some plastic. I am fortunate they grow sweet corn, onions,and pintos all around me, so I will buy direct or barter for what we and the kids need. Planting by the phases of the moon this year.

  22. I am definitely going to up the stuff I plant in my garden this year. However, I’m going to be a little behind on getting things in the ground this year, as it’s still snowing on and off here in North Idaho. In fact I’ve been planting a second garden out in front for a couple of years now. I call it my give away garden. Almost everything I grow in it I give to the neighbors or the food bank, or whoever needs it. I figure if times get bad, and people start garden raiding, they’ll go for the one up front and not look in back.(I hope). This year I’ll be growing tomatoes, potatoes, corn, spinach, broccoli, carrots, onions, eggplant, yellow and green beans, blue lake pole beans, radishes, lettuce, romaine, chard, a variety of peppers, cucumbers, and cabbage, and whatever else looks good. Got that feeling we’re going to need it this year.

  23. Yes,Planting more because I want to control what is in my food.Chemicals in the food chain increases nerve pain..Watching others in pain is not fun nor is having increased pain ones self.. Each nerve toxin we can eliminate, helps.
    We are also concerned about the food supply and all the crop losses of the previous year. Foods we are seeing sold now have short expiration dates. Flour normally has 12-14 months, and some now has 4.
    By every one possible growing food for their family and some for a neighbor if possible, it will relieve some of the pressure of those requiring more than normal…because of a change in routines.
    Potatoes and sweetpotatoes are in the works, onions, garlic ,tomatoes,Okra, poblano pepper, plan is for pole beans in raised bed, and wicking tubs wlll contain the contenders.corn and some greens. have several herbals to interplant. basil on the window sill…

  24. We are raised bed gardeners. Have bush beans, beets, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and butternut squash growing. A neighbor near us went to a big box store to buy plants to start a garden and they were all sold out of them and seeds too. Had to settle on some herb plants.

    Stay safe & Healthy

    Saw an article today that home burglaries in PA are up 20%, it will get worse?

    1. Mmmm, nice soft bake sweet potato with a dash of salt and some cinnamon butter. Joined by a nice tender butterfly-cut filet mignon. A side of fresh cut green beans steamed till they’re just slightly less than firm. And finally a nice tall glass of Knob Creek 100 proof.

      1. Dang Grits. It’s 9 in the morning and with how you described it I now want all of that

    2. I wish I had a longer and warmer growing season for sweet potatoes. They’re yummy – and supposedly healthier than regular white variety potatoes (meaning I can eat more steak with a given meal) (if only that were true ;) )

      1. Ken, having a brown thumb, I haven’t tried this..But….have had folks tell me that sweet potatoes will grow/produce well in large pot in house….

  25. Yes, we plan to expand our garden efforts because of solar minimum (food shortages already), Covid (stay out of public areas even more than usual) and the economy crashing (more difficult to find food, want to be less of a burden on the system, help friends and family as we are able). We are also fencing in more of our garden area to protect our efforts from the animal that would devour our work.

    It is our intention to plant more root vegetables this year, specifically expand plantings of beets, parsnips, and potatoes. We will expand areas to include raised beds with hardware clothe on bottom because we Do not plant acres of food so the mole and mice destruction hits us hard. But we will continue to plant hidden garden areas well. Between herds of deer and the occasional loose pig or goat, these do not do as well.

    We also plan to do more with seed saving. Each year we get better in this area. Additionally, I purchased LED grow lights to do all our plants from seed and cuttings this year. In past year, we have done some as seed starts and purchased started plants locally. I already had purchased twice as many potato seedlings this year and have plenty of my own from last year. We have a strong supply of seeds on hand, both saved and purchased and will continue to grow both which are heirloom.

    A garden is critical to plant this year just like it was for our ancestors who grew their own so they could eat. Keeping small animals (chickens, rabbits, pigs) is also critical to improve our soils and for meat. We feel it is even more important than it was for our grandparents during the depression because of the need to restore our soils from what has been taken and not replaced over the years.

    Garden up people, it will keep you healthier and sane…..well, except for when critters invade and then you have to turn them into food or garden amendment.

    By the way, the 22 CMT has a very loud report! Thought I was going to have to dispatch a bobcat when I heard a dog scream, was worried it was my girl when she didn’t come immediately. Grabbed the closest tool handy,,,one I had not tried yet. Don’t think I will pick that one up again if given a choice. Other than that, felt good in my hand and was easy to manage.

      1. Oh my gosh! I never thought about living without coffee. Guess I’d better check my supply.

  26. We are planning a larger garden this year, and intentionally pushing the growing season into earlier and later growing. Our greenhouse is filling up and this year we converted it from a table-based greenhouse for flats and plants to a raised-bed greenhouse. We have rods for hanging baskets, so we are now growing in the raised beds, containers, and hanging baskets. We also have some 5-gal buckets with tomato seedlings growing for a little ‘jump’ in the regular tomato season, and a 5-gal bucket for some early cucs.

    All seeds are open-pollinated/heirloom, and most are from my own saved seeds.

    The greenhouse garden is growing 4 types of lettuces (romaine, cos, butter), pac choi, turnips, bok choi, beets, swiss chard, a few Nero kale bunches, spinach, green peppers, carrots, onions,and a few annual herbs.

    Outdoor gardens are double-rows (except potatoes) and we grow organically. We will be ready to plant by Sunday: potatoes and a number of direct-seeded/transplanted cool weather crops (onions, broccoli, turnips, beets, lettuces and Asian greens, etc).

    By mid-May, we’ll have tomatoes, green beans, celery, chards, squash, cucs.

    For us, the garden is about getting the maximum foods that we are able to. We plan to stagger plantings more than our normal, and we will extend the season as best as we can. We’ll follow up with Fall plantings in the greenhouse to keep ‘fresh’ veggies on the table longer.

    Like we usually do, we produce veggies to eat fresh and preserve by freezing or canning. We won’t see family, unless family has moved here temporarily, so all excess will remain with us.

    1. MT
      Thats sort of where im at with staggering plantings, and doing smaller plantings so i can hopefully manage the weeds etc, and spread out the harvest, some of the veggies keep going, the kales, spinach, broccoli and chards especially, will try and spread these out so theres always dinner to be had walking through the garden. I think this year will be my first trying my hand at tomato sauce, 🤞🏻

      1. Kula, We plan Kale in late summer for a Fall crop, then it over-winters. We keep it growing through the following Spring, then allow the plants to set seeds. By the time kale plants are finished and the seed pods are ripe, the plants are about 7-8 feet high. The bees love the yellow kale flowers, and so do the hummers. I can be in the field with bees and hummers darting all around me. It’s so tranquil….

        We use a tarp to cut at base of kale plants, then get into production mode on the tarp. Eventually everything breaks down into the debris, pods, and seeds. Takes time, but I can get several pounds of fresh kale seeds. Lots are used for sprouting! Kale is my favorite veggie for so many reasons, it’s the veggie that keeps on giving. :-)

        I do the same with a few onions, broccoli, and some swiss chard — grow through winter and spring for the seeds.

        Good for you with tomato sauce. I like to cook mine down to get some of the water out. I also make tomato paste (takes hours to cook down), and ketchup.

        BTW, since I read you like the big honkin’ tomatoes, get some Dr. Wyche’s Yellow, a large, sweet, yellow (low-acid) beefsteak type (heirloom). I’ve grown it for about a decade (and save seeds). VERY large and sweet, eat it like an apple. lol

  27. Planting extra of most everything this year. One thing I will be trying is planting the “Three Sisters”, Beans/winter squash/corn among each other this year. With the corn being a field of a neighbor farm, just called and asked permission that was more than willingly given, to plant my beans (for dry beans only, not green beans) and winter squash along the property line (I have about 300 yards) and next to/among his corn. He advised that I could do so anywhere along that field that I pleased, even on his property, as he advised it is also good for his corn…. they are Mennonite folks who have their own huge garden and sell at their roadside stand. I will be using some of my seeds stashed away in the “Non-GMO” seed vaults purchased several years ago….

  28. Looking for one of the fastest producing vegetables to get a quick result?

    RADISHES
    (20 – 30 days)

    Though not everyone likes radishes!

    Beets are pretty quick too.

    1. Ken;
      Have you tried a radish called “French breakfast”? They are YUMMIE! I’ll bet even a borderline radish eater would love them.

  29. QUESTION:

    Those of you who have raised garden beds made from wood…

    What do you do (if anything) to the exterior of the wood after awhile? Do you treat it at all? Or just let it eventually weather/rot/decay?

    1. Hi Ken:

      Mine never lasted longer than one growing season. Subterranean termites destroyed them from the inside-out. I figured anything I might do to treat the problem would involve the inner aspect of the wood, with untold contamination of the crops.

      1. This is a good reason to consider alternatives to wood,
        Concrete blocks, plastic wood, stones?
        Over here even treated lumber would be rotten after a couple seasons, so yea, short term maybe can work but long term a waste of money, so looking at it from a long term perspective, cost wise, labor wise, a more permanent material could well be warranted. It will all come down to budget and ability.

      2. Wood is always an eventual losing proposition. My latest and greatest raised bed is constructed to be 4 x 16 x 2′-tall. Built this one a few years ago using treated lumber (the latest way they treat lumber isn’t as bad as it once was years ago). The exterior is really getting weathered. Debating to just paint the exterior / stain it / treat it — with minimal toxicity repercussions. Though exterior treatment shouldn’t be an issue.

    2. Few years back we dropped 24 tall alders that were leaning the wrong way. Some were cut into slabs. Beautiful white wood with the straightest grain. Some into firewood. And some were drug into place for garden beds. Rounds too long to split for the stoves became end pieces. Very comfortable seating all around. Mossy in spots. An amazing array of fungi, toadstools, squirrel seats have grown on them over the seasons. For a white wood, they’re black sitting out in the weather.

      Not the most durable wood, but what to do with them will be an issue for beloved offspring long after I’m gone.

      1. Anonymee
        Ive been thinking about using something similar for beds, or at least terracing, have an abundance of black wattle trees, they just keep popping up in borders and edge of the gulch, i think for semi raised beds would be excellent, wont last forever but should last a good long time.

        Something ive been toying with is using bamboo, it doesnt seem to rot, we have a timber bamboo planted on our place, 4″ at the base, thick walls, grows about 50′ tall, thinking semi weaving it together to make the sides of raised beds, a bit o work but its free, so thats good. Thought about just lashing it together too,

        1. Kulafarmer

          Guy a couple miles up the road from me has been slowly cleaning up his forested parcel. Taking brush and branches and weaving the most amazing perimeter fence from them. Squashed down, bet it would make nice garden bed border.

          One might plant between the bits too. Sort of a green wall or strawberry jar look.

        2. Kula,
          Bamboo. wow. really miss bamboo. I have planted a cold hearty variety, but nothing like would grow in California when I was a kid. Around here, we get Chinese elm growing like weeds. I have used these in the past to build make shift raised beds. lasted 5 years, and grew some good stuff.

          1. Miner J
            Just watched a couple youtube vids on using bamboo for raised beds, gave me some good ideas

      2. I’ve considered using trees of sufficient diameter too. Maybe I’ll revisit that thought when I build my next raised bed… Thanks for the reminder.

    3. Ken….about fifteen yrs back, Husband made some raised garden beds. Only raised the width of 12 inch thick board. So, that is what he used, was just these “boards”. No treatment. What he did though, was put metal “corners” (repurposed angles from something else …maybe roofing? decking? cant recall)…on each corner. They have held together quite well (especially considering not treated). Some of the corners are now starting to rot off, but most still “holding”. As well, by now the dirt is sort of packed in, and guess it is sort of holding its own.

    4. Ken,

      As I posted somewhere earlier, I started with concrete blocks and switched to untreated cedar. Beds are 4′ x 8′ x 16″, made out of 2″ local cut cedar. My oldest cedar bed is about 5 years old, and they have weathered well, with one exception. That exception was one 8′ board on the bottom that warped and started spilling out a small amount of soil. This winter, I pulled the soil away from that side, unscrewed the warped board, turned it over and reattached. Everything fine for this season. I suspect location and ground soil type makes a difference. No insect issues here with the wood, just what’s planted in the beds, lol. They were originally placed on landscape cloth over hardware cloth to inhibit burrowing critters, but I’ve stopped using the hardware cloth since moles/voles/gophers don’t seem to be an issue.

    5. Ken, we use pine or homegrown cedar. No treatments for preserving the wood. We know it’s a losing proposition but why grow organically if you use toxins to preserve wood?

  30. I’m increasing my Garden footage by approx. 20-25%. Yes all raised beds.
    Not because of the C-19, but because I’m retiring in 4 weeks, I really REALLY enjoy Gardening and find it extremely comforting to gaze into that Deep Pantry and see those Home Canned foods sitting there.

    Also I am increasing the varieties of vegies I’m trying, is 8 different types of Peppers really too much? HAHAHA

    Have had a seemingly shortage of Tomatoes in the past, so increasing the numbers to 50 plants. LOVE fresh Tomatoes in Salads and on a hunk of fresh baked bread.

    My planting starts is Memorial Day, so have well over 200 pots in the house going, and will be planting some of the cold weather seeds this weekend. Need to wait till end of April to get the Beets and other root crops in the ground (seeds).

    On the subject of Raised Beds, I use Concrete Forms in the 2’X4’ size laid down so beds are 2’ high, makes a perfect bed at 4’X20’ long.
    Also a lot of 55 gallon plastic drums cut in 1/2 so about 25 gallon size, perfect for Tomatoes, one per barrel.
    Lastly I have a lot of old 12” square milk crates, line them with Landscape Fabric, and fill with soil.

    Happy Gardening Y-all hehehe

    1. 50 tomato plants are going to bring you an insane amount of maters. I typically have done just 8 plants – which provide way more than we need (made / canned tomato sauce with the rest). Varieties do produce differently – though regardless of that your 50 should have you floating in sauce!

      1. Geez, NRP, now you’re growing ‘maters at my level! Do you know that you will be canning every.day.for.quite.a.while??? Got jars? Got lids??? lol

        The most tomatoes I did was 76 tomato plants that were just Romas. I had to harvest them w/ the help of the bed of the pickup truck because there were so many and those Romas ripen in a very short timespan, so egads!! I was canning beyond my capacity to can! ;-)

      2. You can never have too many tomatoes, we plant 50 and when ripe eat 2or 3 times a day. Make salsa, marinara, can juice, whole, and we can something we call soup base with a lot of diced bell peppers, mild tam jalapenos and onions. This works great for any soup or chili.And they are high in lycopene.

    2. NRP
      8 different peppers? Too much?
      Na,,,
      Especially where you live, you could string them up and dry them and have excellent dried peppers to use for all sorts of stuff, or pickled!
      If NRP picked a peck of pickled peppers,,,,,,
      50 tomato plants is a lot,
      I tried to do that out in the open last year, got a heavy downpour one afternoon, and that was the end of that! All turned to brown goo and died, really disappointing, but thems the breaks with gardening.
      Honestly, i think i will end up close to 50, the one im really curious to see how it does is a beefsteak heirloom, supposedly a softball sized tomato, pictures looked really good, gave me visions of BLTs dancing through my mind!
      I got to watch that, counting chickens before they hatch and all, same with the garden, just because ya plant it, doesnt mean it will produce!
      This year is a make or break, everything being put to the test.
      Seeing deficiencies in my prepping, and such, is quite entertaining, livin on the edge, but not really, but entertaining and informative.

      1. Kula, beefsteak heirloom is one of my top 3 favs.With jetstar, Oregon spring and better boys.

  31. Haven’t really gardened since I was young so this year should be quite an adventure. Hope to get a medicinal garden going. And some permanent herb beds. Going to try a variety of heirlooms, and some landrace seeds from Lauren.

    Most plantings will be for winter forage and food for pigs. This wonderful bottom land can’t take their abuse when it’s as wet as this winter has been, so plan to confine next winter’s pigs most of the time.

    Dent corn, pumpkins, winter squash, sugar beets, kale, sunflowers, potatoes, and thanks Bobcat for mentioning mangel wurzel. Ordering some now from Victory Seed. They have an amazing array of colorful corns as well. Probably a couple acres altogether. That’s the plan. We’ll see how it goes.

  32. Living where the dirt is rock and sterile soil doesn’t make for good gardens. However I do have 4 or 5 large pots that came with trees in them. Would potatoes grow in something like this? I will get a couple of tomato plants and can also probably do small containers on the deck although one side gets to much sun and the other not enough (sigh) I put shade cloth up last year over the tomato plant.

    1. Potatoes should work in your large pots. Kind of like potatoes in a barrel – which has worked prolifically for some people (though my experiment failed).

      You should try a pot. Be sure it has good drainage. Start with enough soil to cover potatoes. Then as the green shoots grow and are at least several inches up, then cover some more. Repeat. When soils reaches the top of pot, just let it grow till the shoots eventually die off. In theory, you should have lots or taters in there.

      A problem with growing in pots, above ground, is they will dry out quick from the heat of the sun.

      Come to think of it, since my experiment failed, you shouldn’t be listening to me ;)

      1. Thanks Ken- I have nothing to lose by trying so….. got a few seed potatoes yesterday and will pick up some soil in the next 2 or 3 weeks. Planting time here seems to be end of May. I will start them inside and from what the box says it will take a couple of weeks anyway. I can put them on the very sunny back deck and cover as needed at night. I think that I will move one pot to the front more shady deck as it gets warmer and see if anything grows. Same strategy with the tomatoes.

  33. I am thinking of doing a bigger garden this year… Any Advice for keeping grey squirrels from eating my tomatoes? I want to try potatoes in 5 gal. buckets.
    I am going to plant green beans, tomatoes, egg plant, bell peppers, acorn squash.

    1. Jabba;
      Two ways I know of to keep squirrels from the Garden.
      1. Rugger 10-22
      2. Urinal Cakes

      1. Fried squirrel, peaches and cream sweet corn, sliced tomatoes, broiled new potatoes and green beans.😋

          1. BigBadCat;
            I agree with Maggie’s farm, fried with Taters and Cream Gravy

  34. You might be wise to think about planting stealth gardens as a backup. Scout out creek banks, remote meadows, etc.. Sprinkle a few seeds of your favorites here and there in places (virgin soil) off the beaten path and map it so you don’t forget locations. Not cultivated rows, but the way the Lord plants, in little patches.You don’t have to own the land, just go to remote area or public land. A couple locations might be discovered, but they won’t get them all and the property owner might even be thankful you left them a gift. The heirloom seeds will keep the party going year after year. And don’t forget about Jerusalem artichokes. They are already out there if you know what they look like. No excuse for apartment dwellers to starve. And…. you can use these locations as bate for your meat needs. Trap and snare. A gun will announce your score and draw two legged predators to take what you got. Hope it helps. Don’t stay safe, stay free. The easy day was yesterday. P.S. For those who say it is trespass, think again. Don’t pay your tax this year and you will be the trespasser next year even though you “think” you own the land. I am talking public land in the near term here.

  35. I started our garden early this year. I planted all of it last weekend except for half of the corn. I didn’t want to wait to late and all of the stores be closed because of the virus and not be able to get what we needed. We have a small garden in the front yard, about 30’x30′, but I try to get as much as possible from our small spot. We have corn, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions, peppers, squash and cukes. I am trying to grow strawberries in a barrel with slots cut in the sides. Don’t know how good it will work but I saw it on the internet so it must be true.

  36. We have been away from gardening for a number of years, however, the latest series of events has us back at it. Just got a deal today on some cedar raised bed boxes and I have a directive from DW to clear out our garden space (now overgrown with ivy) and get going.

    That said I am a hunter/gatherer type not a gardener, managing to pretty much kill any plant I come in contact with (except weeds).

    Resistance is futile, the grandkids started some seeds last week and have been spraying them with water every day. (they need water? :) )

    So a garden it shall be. Uncommon times, uncommon measures!

  37. Does anyone here do hydroponics? I sprout seeds but have been thinking about trying hydroponics on a really small scale.

    1. My knowledge is limited to one attempt last year. I decided on Kratky hydroponics because it doesn’t need electricity.

      I grew a tomato and two cucumbers, but nearly lost both when I allowed the water level to drop too far. All three recovered, eventually. I can’t give you advice on equipment or nutrients, as I was doing natural nutrients.

    2. aka , look at he wicking pots… Gardening with Leon on you tube. he addresses fertilizers… and there is another channel that did dutch bucket tomatoes… mhpgardener.. He tells exactly and how much of what to use. breaks it down and explains it.Put in you tube search bar “mhpgardener hydroponic fertilizer.”. It should pull right up.

    1. Moonair,
      Tobacco is pretty easy to grow, is a good companion plant for a lot of stuff, goes to seed fast so safe the pods as they dry, can make a brew of the dried leaves to spray on your other plants for pest control, is moderately affective but better than nothing, especially against aphids.
      It is also an addiction of many, a note though, fresh dried home grown tobacco will give you a hell of a buzz

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