In 1967, Franki Valli and the 4 Seasons sang their Billboard Hot 100 Hit, Watch the Flowers Grow. In spring of 2020 with a lot of folks staying home, there is NO better time to literally watch the flowers and other plants thrive in your own container garden or backyard.
So let’s get growing! Order seed packets, seedlings, herbs or small plants online or from local essential stores that are still open.
But before you get started, be aware that while many of us find deer very endearing, they love their plants and vegetables. They don’t want to share tomato, pepper, cucumber and others (including certain flowers) with you, and they won’t hesitate to eat them to the ground!
If you have deer, be sure to protect your plants. Growing them on balconies, screened-in porches or patios and keeping plants close to your house should help keep them safe. There are also many plants that are labeled “deer resistant,” and generally they really are.
Start seed packets indoors NOW or on a protected porch or patio unless you’re in a year round warm climate. With everyone being at home these days, you’ll be able to give your new plants that extra TLC. Once they start growing, transplant into larger pots or a container after the danger of frost.
Herb container gardens are just fabulous. Who doesn’t want fresh basil and oregano in their spaghetti sauce or on their tomato/basil/mozzarella bruschetta (e-z recipe below)? How about a piping hot baked potato with sour cream and fresh chives? Salmon with fresh dill? – YES PLEASE! Refreshing lemonade with fresh mint springs or mint leaves frozen in ice-cube trays of lemonade is a warm day essential.
Cherry tomatoes in plenty of varieties are perfect for patios and balconies in containers. Try a yellow cherry tomato AND a red cherry tomato plant for the perfect summer mix.
I purchased a small bolt of mixed lettuce in a 3” pot for $3. I repotted it and one bolt of lettuce kept me stocked with freshly plucked lettuce for tacos or sandwiches for a few weeks (once the bolt starts getting really large, leaves taste bitter). Arugula is also great for large pots or containers. Mix fresh arugula with other salad greens or use it on sandwiches. It’s slightly peppered taste gives your food an extra kick.
Got a small sunny garden? Try growing a cucumber vine (with trellis for climbing) to keep you in fresh cucs this summer season. Now is a good time to get this growing since this one will take a while.
Pepper plants such as traditional jalapenos, green peppers and cayenne are abundant. But every year there’s more unique varieties to choose from – hot and mild. This is a good time to try one or two new pepper plants that you’ve never tried before.
Pretty pansies are out there now in every color and multi-color you can imagine. Hassle-free and easy, plant in a pot or container with plenty of sun, nip dead buds, keep them minimally watered and they will hang out with you for a long time!
EZ growing fresh herbs and veggies aren’t just great to grow during a pandemic – they are fun and tasty to grow every season!
E-Z BRUSCHETTA ingredients:
Fresh basil leaves
Mozzarella cheese (fresh in water is best, but hard or shredded will also work)
Cut small slices or rounds or squares of your favorite crusty bread. Mix olive oil with a bit of garlic and brush it generously on the bread. Add torn up basil leaves, a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese and top with chunks of diced tomatoes (red, yellow or both) mixed in a little olive oil. Salt and pepper to your own taste. You can substitute hard mozzarella cheese, but the fresh cheese in water is softer and makes it even better! You can also turn this recipe into a sandwich: Cut a sandwich size piece of crusty bread, brush both halves with olive oil/garlic mix, then add the ingredients above, making the tomato slices and cheese slices larger and use whole basil leaves. Salt and pepper to your own taste.