Designing a Coronavirus Victory Garden: First Steps

Raised Bed with Logs 

Raised bed garden constructed using logs 

Now, during the spring 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, I anticipate there will be new or renewed interest in planting a garden. Like the wartime Victory Gardens of the last century, this health crisis which has us all social distancing in our own spaces may inspire some new garden projects. Or millions? Maybe this is another moment in history when people are reminded that more of their food sourcing can be in their own hands, strengthening the food security of the whole country. If more people grow their own food or source it locally, transported food can be more readily available to those who do not have the opportunity to grow their own.

In an effort to support this resurgence of gardening, here are some first steps to designing your own garden. It can be an overwhelming project, full of options and choices. Be assured, there are many effective garden designs. You will find some options to fit your needs better than others, or some to be more effective at nurturing growth, but for the most part: set it up, plant it and watch it grow. You can always improve your setup in the future. Gardening is an art as much as it is a science. As you get into it, you will develop more opinions and ideas to help personalize your garden. Here are some first steps to guide you on your way.

Evaluate your space. Do you have a yard? Space for some containers on a sunny deck or front step? If your best bet is a front yard garden, consider creating raised beds or clear edges to your garden to indicate to neighbors that this is a cared for, intentional space. Consider homeowners association rules, if you’ve got em. Some won’t allow a front yard garden. If you are growing a container garden, find the biggest containers you can. Fill them with topsoil and rich compost, with monthly additions of more compost, to feed your plants through the season. A few lettuce plants can share a relatively shallow pot, maybe twelve inches wide and about that deep. A tomato plant might enjoy a five gallon bucket or huge planter all to itself. 

Observe the sun. Observe the sun patterns in your yard or space, taking into consideration where more leaves might fill in as summer approaches. Find a place that stays sunny the most, hopefully full day if you want to grow peppers and tomatoes. Buy ten bags of Organic Compost and a square of peat moss at your local supply store. Hoe or till the soil, along with these supplements, to create a rich base for your garden. If you are breaking new ground from grass, you will fight grass seed and depleted soil nutrition the first couple years. Adding compost will help balance it. Research your best strategy for weed control. Some people put newspapers and cardboard down on top of grass and build completely up with purchased topsoil.

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