At this point in the pandemic, you have probably seen how the order to limit the spread of the coronavirus led to a garden boom. The desire to grow their own food has bombarded kindergartens across the country – as essential companies that can remain open – from increasing demand. The increased interest in green thumbs is due to a decrease in the attractiveness of grocery shopping with its obvious transmission risks, mask mandates, empty shelves and distance guidelines (not to mention more time at home to maintain a garden). In short, self-sufficiency is increasing.
Residents in urban areas could assume that this revitalization of gardening does not apply to them. However, little or no outdoor space available does not mean that you are unable to harvest products from a store and not the ground. There is actually a good amount of food that you can grow in an apartment or in the smallest space of a balcony or terrace.
Take it from Dimitri Gatanas, a kindergarten director in the depths of Manhattan's concrete jungle. The Urban Garden Center in Gatanas is located under a railway line in the Harlem district of New York City in Spain and has been flooded with new inquiries since the start of orders to stay in the city. "We were overrun with orders for vegetables, herbs and seeds," says Gatanas. "It's actually a little overwhelming." Gatanas has shifted most of its sales to online and over the phone and used its employees to run a fast delivery service to take social distance into account.
Gatanas spends a lot of time on the phone, teaching first-time gardeners what to buy and how to grow it. "We want people to know that they can grow food pretty much anywhere," he says. According to Gatanas, the key is to set realistic expectations and achievable goals. "body bypasses a supermarket that does any of it," says Gatanas. But he sees real strength in growing some of his own food in a crowded city, especially in times of crisis. "I think that is more therapy, that has become the garden. It is cathartic."
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On the opposite coast, Two Dog Organic Nursery's Los Angeles-based Jo Anne Trigo has doubled the business since California placed orders for home stay on March 19, and has switched to emailing and roadside pickup. Trigo and her husband Alejandro founded their kindergarten after the 2008 recession destroyed their interior design business and urged Trigo to take a break in the floor. After Trigo founded a company that emerged from an economic crisis and now supports those who are in the middle of another, the circle closes for Trigo.
"There is general discomfort," she says, "and it was a kindergarten mission due to the 2008 recession (to get the message out) that knowing how to do something of your own is a good life skill Growing food. "
So where do I start? Trigo tells the rush of new customers who contact them daily to first assess how much light, space and time they have. Next, select "workhorse" plants (such as herbs, leafy greens, and high-yielding fruits such as strawberries and tomatoes) that are more likely to survive the mistakes of an inexperienced gardener and that help minimize discouragement from initial failure. And Trigo advises, no matter what you grow or where, the ground is your most important tool. So invest in a high-quality organic brand.
For those who can only grow inside, herbs are a good place to start. Plants such as mint, basil and chives can be grown in small terracotta pots and placed on a sunny windowsill and used as a side dish or spice, poured into teas or cocktails, mixed into smoothies or pesto, etc. Excessive crops can be frozen for the future, and the woodier herbs like oregano and rosemary are perennials – which means that they grow continuously or return every year when properly cared for. Gatanas recently had a customer call that COVID-19 had been diagnosed with and wanted to grow their own herbs for tea. He ordered thyme and peppermint. "He was determined to feel better on his own and to do it naturally," says Gatanas.
Lettuce, spinach, arugula and microgreens can also be grown indoors if they are placed in a sunny place that doesn't get too hot. When it comes to containers, Trigo swears by Earth Boxes, which it describes as “the most foolproof container on the market” because of its water reservoir, which prevents it from being poured over. "Most new gardeners think that more is better and drown everything," says Trigo.
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If you have an apartment balcony or small terrace, choose what to add based on how much sun your outdoor area gets. A room facing south or west receives more sun and is therefore ideal for high-production plants such as tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers and strawberries. If your outdoors is more shady, return to greens like lettuce, kale, and arugula.
Trigo also recommends vertical plants such as pumpkin, beans and some melons to urban gardeners with limited space. A redwood lattice in your container won't rot and will make the vines grow outside rather than outside, maximizing the efficient use of your space.
Root crops such as sweet potatoes, carrots and onions can also be grown in a small space. Trigo Smart Pot recommends aeration tank for this. Smart pots are fabric containers with which your plants can “breathe”. However, they are also light and inexpensive. Just be picky about where you place them (the floor tends to stay wet and can stain hard surfaces).
After all, small citrus trees can be grown in containers and even kept indoors in colder months. Dwarf lemon, orange and tangerine trees are good options. "They don't grow 3 to 4 feet tall, they're beautiful, the scent of the flowers is incredible, and they bear fruit every year," says Trigo.
New urban gardeners would benefit most if they choose sturdy plants that can withstand your mistakes, that are fruitful, and that you actually like to eat. All of these factors help maintain interest in your new hobby. "The first rule of gardening," says Trigo, "is to grow what you eat and eat what you grow." That means: Don't plant anything you don't like to eat.
If you are overwhelmed, keep in mind that most garden centers will be happy to help and show you what to buy and how to grow it. You will probably still need to communicate with them as inventory levels fluctuate. Most orders require a back and forth about what you want and what kindergarten actually has in stock.
The most important consideration at the moment: Start in a way that is safe for you as well as for the company and its employees. Use the new phone and email ordering systems, wear a mask and wash your hands before you get your roadside pickup or home delivery.
Classifying kindergartens as an essential company should be used to grow some of your groceries, reduce the number of trips to the grocery store, and possibly even reduce stress, but not to undermine and get out of public orders for home stays. "You don't have to leave your house," says Gatanas. "You just have to hope that your garden center is open."
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