Home Vegetable Gardening for Dummies: COVID-19 Edition

We don't know about you, but going to the grocery store is hardly our idea of fun--especially in the midst of a global pandemic.

All of this has gotten us thinking: why aren't we taking this time at home to cultivate our own vegetable gardens?

We'd cut down on food expenses, get some much-needed time outdoors (we all need a little Vitamin D now and again, right?), and, with any luck, we'd get inspired to incorporate more healthy, homegrown vegetables into our respective diets.

Not sure how to get started? Don't worry. Mortgages is here to help. Now, let's get our hands dirty, shall we?

Focus on easy, fast-growing vegetables...

For many of us, our quarantine garden is our first foray into vegetable cultivation. Our advice? Start simple and start small.

Here are a few easy, fast-growing options:

  • Arugula
  • Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Peas

What's the advantage with these, you may ask?

A few things. First, as previously mentioned, all of these germinate and sprout quickly. Plus, they all do well in low-light conditions, so you could get them started indoors by a window in old Tupperware containers or other plastic containers you have around the house.

And, if you're gardening with kids, these will be a surefire hit. Why? Because they'll start to see the results of their efforts in just a few weeks' time.

...but be sure to grow what you'll actually eat!

Remember, quarantine gardening isn't about impressing your friends, neighbors, or family.

It's about abandoning perfectionism and embracing surprises, both good and bad. It's about escaping the Great Indoors for the Great Outdoors, and for developing what writers at Psychology Today refers to as a "growth mindset," where you reframe mistakes and hiccups as learning opportunities instead of "failures."

So, if there are some slow-growing, more challenging vegetables that you enjoy and want to try growing, go for it! Here are some more (mostly) foolproof options to choose from--but, bear in mind, they might not produce as quickly as the options outlined in the previous section:

  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplants
  • Potatoes
  • Squash
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes

Basic garden prep & maintenance

We're all entitled to a few rookie mistakes here and there. But, if you want your early gardening efforts to put forth more than just a few sprouts, be sure to heed the guidance below.

Position your garden near your backdoor

Gardens need daily attention--at least ten minutes each day, according to some seasoned experts.

When the garden is in your field of vision, right by your backdoor or patio, you're more likely to do your due diligence and give your garden the attention it needs, whether it's watering, fertilizing, or some other chore. Set up your containers or beds on a relatively flat surface near a water source and you'll be golden!

Choose a spot with plenty of sunlight

Most vegetables need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day in order to thrive. Some leafy greens and root vegetables like mesclun and carrots, by contrast, only need about four.

With these factors in mind, choose a sunny spot based on what you're growing--or, if you're planting in an easily movable container, monitor which spots of your property get the most sunlight at a given time of day and then switch its position accordingly!

Water, fertilize, & weed--regularly!

Water and fertilizing are no-brainers--plants, like humans, need food and drink to live. But weeds can be tricky and pernicious and don't often seem like threats on the surface. Don't be fooled. Root them out (see what we did there?) when you see them because they can harbor vermin and other pests, as well as diseases that could kill your crop.

Ready to get started? We thought you might be. Happy quarantine gardening, friends!