Since at least 2008 we’ve been championing that people with land should plant a food garden. The best time to start your garden is today, the second best time is tomorrow. Being stuck at home to slow the spread of COVID-19 has inspired people to start growing their own gardens – great! Interest in gardening has grown this year and this means (very) local produce for more people. Gardening is fun and a great way to better understand food you eat, give it a shot!
For a city boy like me, born and raised in Brooklyn, where I had spent most of my adult life, this was all very new. Once you get your hands in soil—really get dirty with it, feel it under your fingernails—there’s a change in perspective, and you’re someone different. You’ve opened the tiniest of windows onto the ecological reality of the forces that sustain human existence, the biogeophysical relationships of water, sunlight, air, earth. Quite suddenly, what seemed mysterious quotients—say, the balance of phosphorus, nitrogen, carbon, and potassium—become commonalities of understanding and, eventually, of wisdom. The plants that depend on all those factors in harmony rise up, or they don’t.
It’s hard to express the pride and lovingness and delight in seeing a plant germinate, and grow tall and hardy, and then flower and put fruit out. When the crop came fresh and healthy last summer—there wasn’t a hint of blight, and no insects attacked it—I felt a bit like Viva and I had brought green babies into adulthood. We will never not do it again.
Smart people have been following the advice from health officials to limit trips outside the home to slow the spread of COVID-19, which means bigger grocery trips. This sounds innocuous until you realize that since this is a time a lot of people are regularly cooking at home they don’t know how to manage their filled fridges. Produce goes bad faster than expected and people might by stuff with good intentions only to forget about it.
How do we deal with this increase of potential food waste? Make a list.
Keeping your fridge stocked without much of its contents ending up in your compost bin (note: this is also a great time to get a compost bin if you don’t already have one) isn’t hard, but it does take a modicum of effort. To that end, I made up a very basic, fly-by-night system to organize yourself, your groceries, and your cooking. You can basically modify it however works for you! The idea is just to keep track of what you buy and when it will go bad using lists, and keeping that information in plain sight on your refrigerator.
The system is extremely low-tech, and it’s based on a series of lists: picking out a few exciting things you want to try cooking before you go to the grocery store, putting ingredients for those meals on your grocery list, writing down when all the food items you’ve purchased will start to go bad, and then making a cooking schedule to accommodate all those (approximate — we’re all guessing) expiration dates. I suggest putting these lists in plain sight, like on your fridge, to keep your meal plan front-of-mind.
People panic buying at grocery stores have messed up with the normal operations of industrial supply chains, including food. Not to worry though as toilet paper is still being made and crops are still growing around the world. Due to borders being closed and transportation being limited there is a coming issue around labour migration and farming. Over the last few decades migrant workers have been increasingly relied upon on farms to help with operation and now that labour pool won’t be able to help as they did in the past. There is something you can do this month (or even next month or the month after that…) is to plant a “victory garden”. If we need to keep the practice of social distancing going then having fresh food on hand will save trips to the grocery store.
“The warehouse is full and there are more containers arriving so we haven’t felt it,” she said.
“But I am not sure how we will go for the orders we are placing now because these containers are from orders we placed many months ago.
“We have to keep working and do our best; and hope that in a few months time things will be better and things will be back to normal.”
Stuck inside due to the coronavirus? Why not learn to garden so when the good weather comes you can socially isolate yourself while also feeding yourself?
Rob Greenfield was nervous and hesitant gardner when he started and wants you to know that it’s ok to be intimidated by growing your own fruits and veggies. He’s created a great guide to help you get started in converting your lawn (which are not good) to a bountiful land of crops!
My goal with this guide is to help you get past the parts you may be nervous about. I want to empower you and activate you into growing your own food and sharing it with your community. Once your confidence level has risen and you feel like you’ve got the hang of it, I’m confident that you can figure out the rest!
This guide is geared toward beginner and first-time gardeners in the Orlando, Florida area. I would not recommend this guide if you are outside Florida. Instead I would use my Free Seed Project Gardening Guide. Florida is a pretty unique state when it comes to growing food and this guide is aimed at helping people working within the circumstances that Central Florida provides. This guide focuses on the basics of growing food and provides a general rule of thumb with ideas. It is by no means the end all be all of beginner gardening. However, I do feel that reading this whole guide will be extremely helpful to those of you who are just getting started.
The video above tells a story about a person who grew in his garden enough food to eat for a year. Even with a small plot of land one can grow a lot of food. At our house we find that we have food to give away at the end of the summer.
Right now is a perfect time to start planning your garden to get some free food.
I hope that you are inspired to plant some food and support local farmers and growers in your area! We definitely can’t all do what I did, nor do we need to, but in the times we live in we all certainly do something to improve the world around us while increasing our own health and happiness.
If you got inspiration from this join me on my channel for more great videos:
And on Instagram @RobJGreenfield https://www.instagram.com/robjgreenfield/
Health and happiness to you all!