Gardening in the time of COVID-19

Why not plant tomatoes? she asked herself

Laverne out
Laverne loves my garden. I have to do this for her.

I read in the paper that there is a shortage of seeds!

Yes! There has been a run on vegetable seeds!

People are worried that they won’t be able to get food and think that they are going to have to grow their own.

I hadn’t even thought about buying my vegetable seeds yet. It’s still cold here. It snowed yesterday.

(I hate winter so much.)

But if I have to rely on growing my own food, I am screwed. We have a very short growing season here and a small back yard without much direct sun and the things that grow well here – lettuce, dill – are not the foods that sustain life, like potatoes.

I read the story on my phone as Mr T and I were driving back from the food bank, where we had worked a shift processing inbound inventory.

(Don’t think we are noble. We are not. We are both unemployed. We have time. We can either use it to help others or we can use it to be stuck in the house and fight with each other and possibly kill each other, our corpses not to be found until months from now, when the cats,, in desperation, will have eaten our cheeks and other fleshy parts.)

I read the story and jumped quickly to my favorite seed site, Seed Savers Exchange, which, even today, two weeks later, is not accepting new orders.


“We have to go to the hardware store!” I gasped.

Mr T, to his credit, did exactly as I asked. He pulled into the parking lot at our neighborhood Ace and waited in the car while I ran in.

Of course there were plenty of seeds.

In Wisconsin, everyone already gardens.

They already ordered inventory assuming everyone would be buying seeds.

I grabbed basil, parsley, dill, lettuce, zinnia, cosmos, and nasturtium seeds.

None of those are food items that will help.

But who grows tomato from seed in Wisconsin?


But – what if they don’t open the garden shops? What if I can’t get tomato seedlings in May?

I ran back to the seed racks and grabbed three packets of tomato seeds, praying that it wasn’t already too late. I know there are ways to start seeds indoors and to transplant them, but that’s for Serious Gardeners and I am not a Serious Gardener.

All I know is what I learned in Girl Scouts a long time ago.

(In Girl Scouts, I also learned how to make flour tortillas. The secret is lard. You’re welcome.)

I took the seeds home and did this:

garden 2

And this:

garden 3

So now, like the people in On the Beach, we wait.

Happy Passover. Happy Easter. May this be the renewal, rebirth, and release from bondage that we all need.


4 thoughts on “Gardening in the time of COVID-19

  1. I did the same thing – Virginia version. Went thru my old seeds to see if any were still “in date” and found lettuce, spinach, something called “Strawberry spinach”, and beets that were still (supposedly) good, and planted them all. Fortunately, tomato plants are available here already, altho they shouldn’t go in the ground yet. Too bad … planted them, too, and pulled my VERY old cold frame out to cover the tom’s on coldler nights. (Two wooden windows that fit across my raised beds … picked up from a “free” pile on the side of the road in PA years ago.) You might see if the engineer in your family could make you one, so you could put your seedlings in the ground early. I am choosing the decide that this is one of those times when you do more than you think you need to, in order to ensure that you don’t need to. You know like buying extra milk and bread to ensure that the snow storm is not serious.

    Good luck!


    1. Or like washing your car to make it rain? 🙂

      I have the tomato seedlings I got at Lowe’s (did I mention that I found some?) in the greenhouse that also doubles as our front door area. I am worried that they are going to shut down garden stores, so am thinking I might not put these in the ground just yet.

      And maybe I will go buy some more of them. Just in case.


  2. I planted lettuce seeds but almost immediately after they sprouted some creature yanked them all out of the ground and ate only the leaves. Meanie.

    I hope your tomatoes meet with a more productive fate!


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