Pandemic Garden Planning – The Third Year

From somewhere on the interwebs

Have you decided to take the plunge and try to grow a garden in 2022? If not, why not? 

If the past two years of supply chain chaos hasn’t taught you anything, then the current inflationary hell and threat of war in Ukraine should be showing you the wisdom of growing at least “some” of your own food cheaply.

Add the current situation to the reality that if things REALLY go south, it will be too late to teach yourself the skills you need to keep your family’s tummies full. Rice, beans, and MRE’s only go so far. Eventually you will need fresh vegetables to keep your nutrition and spirits up, and the most reliable way to have that is to grow it yourself. With Spring waiting around the corner, why not start now?

I personally learned a lot with my 2020 and 2021 gardening efforts. 2022 looks to be no different. Let’s talk about what I’m trying this year, and see if that doesn’t further convince you.

2022 things I haven’t tried before…

Seeding from the grocery store

With the success of growing dry beans for storage for the first time last year, I’m ready to try to grow even more high-protein food crops. Except this time I’m gonna try seeding with what I already have. 

We use a lot of lentils in my house so I’m going to grab a handful from the bag of store lentils and stick them in the ground. Every thing I have read says that you can do it. I have even heard of people buying one of those 15 bean variety dry soup bags and planting all of those kinds of beans. I don’t have the space for that, but red lentils and green lentils are do-able. I might even have one spare tub to stick some chickpeas in just to see. (Homemade hummus – mmmm)

Growing onions from seed

Up until last year I didn’t even know you could buy onion seed. I had only ever seen onion “sets” (pre-started mini onion bulbs). But I found some in my seed catalogs and decide to try.  Not wanting to waste money buying commercial seed trays, I decided to use egg cartons and start the seeds in my big south window. My hope is that before they outgrow the “cells” in the egg cartons, the onions will be ready to put outside. In this USDA growing zone (6b) I can set them out in mid-March or so. That will free up window space when it’s time to start the tomatoes and peppers.

Starting from seed instead of “sets”.
Onion sprouts chasing the winter blahs away.

Bunching Onions in a window container

Although I had a great onion harvest last year, I discovered that it wasn’t enough. I go through a lot more onions in my cooking than I ever imagined. I was able to “cure” the biggest ones and store them in the basement, and the smallest ones I chopped and dehydrated for future recipes. But I’m running low already and what’s left will likely not get me to the next harvest. So I’m trying to grow “bunching onions” in the window to get me through.

Bunching onions never bulb-up and you eat them as green onions, and they only take 60 days (according to the seed packet). So I put some in a large-ish pot in the window and we’ll see what they do. My hope is that these will be up and producing for the cook pot around the time that last year’s onions have been used up. (Yes, I know I could just go buy more from the store, but this is an experiment durn it!) 

If it works, this will be a good SHTF prep. If you can grow bunching onions in a window without even going outside, then that is a secure food source and tasty adjunct to stored food supplies for those stuck in apartments and houses without yards.

Indoor Carrots – one more try

This is something I have already tried before – without great success. But I want to try one more time. My outside efforts proved that I CAN grow carrots in containers, I just think my indoor containers were too short and the carrot variety too long. 

So this time I’m growing in a laundry detergent container (I am not a hoarder) which is a few inches taller than my previous indoor pots. And this carrot variety only gets 4 inches long. I’ve got a few spouts already, but it will take a few months for results. We shall see. IF it works, then this is another apartment-dweller’s option for adjunctive nutrition.

Indoor short carrots in a laundry detergent container.

Row covers/Cloches

Something else I’m going to try within the next month or so is setting some garden seedlings out early under cover. Covering tender seedlings allows the soil around them to warm a few degrees, while still allowing the sun to penetrate. The covers also protect from wind and overnight frosts when it’s still a wee bit early in the season.

You can buy commercial “cloches” as they are called, from garden supply places – but at ridiculous prices. Priding myself on being a CheapAss Gardener(tm) however, I’m going to use leftover takeout salad bowls (from three years ago before I started growing my own – I’ve got at least a dozen) and a bakery cake cover I salvaged from our garbage (I am not a hoarder). I’ll use small tent stakes and landscape staples to anchor them in the wind and we’ll see what happens.

Trash to Gardening Treasure

More CheapAss Gardening

Besides being a CheapAss It is important for me to note that I’m also doing these kinds of “salvage” experiments to provide examples of how in an economic downturn or collapse you can use the “trash” that is around you to grow edible plants without needing to use expensive and hard to find resources.

-I’m still using the same duct tape covered takeout bowls from three years ago to start some new herbs in the window this year. 

-I’ve still got plastic lined shoeboxes from the other year that I’m starting leaf lettuce and spinach in. 

-My first raised bed that I made out of old bookshelves is holding together (although sprouting fungi) and though it looks worse for wear I’m going to get a third growing season out of it for free.

-I made a third raised bed out of lumber left over from last year’s deck build, and still have more of that and a couple pallets left to make some raised strawberry beds.

-I paid a tree guy to come take down a volunteer Bradford Pear (invasive and does not bear fruit), and he told me they sometimes leave loads of wood chips for people for their gardens – also free.

-I’m debating the cost of additional fencing to expand the garden again to make room for the strawberries and save them from the deer. That definitely will NOT be free, but hopefully will be “paid for” through the money that I didn’t spend on everything else.

So that’s the plan (or at least part of it) for this year’s [Hopefully END of] Pandemic Garden. Have I convinced you yet?

Dr LateBloomer is a female general pediatrician who bought her first firearm at the age of 46. She now enjoys many different shooting disciplines including self-defense, IDPA, USPSA, Steel/Rimfire Challenge, 3-Gun, Sporting clays, and is getting started in hunting. She is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and works to enlighten her medical colleagues whenever possible.