My mother loved her garden. She fawned over our stately avocado tree, gathered oranges and lemons during the winter months, and grew a variety of summertime veggies in neat raised beds. Growing up during the Great Depression then raising her family’s food in a Victory Garden during World War II taught her that sometimes the only food available came from your own garden.

Mother recruited my efforts early on for help with pulling weeds, preparing beds for planting, and harvesting the delicious fruits of her labors. Perhaps her most long lasting gift was teaching me the joys and rewards of cultivating a garden. In these troubling times we are now experiencing, my sheltering-in-place is not a problem for me. I just walk out my back door, grab my planting spade, and get to work caring for my vegetable seedlings that will produce fresh, organic produce by summer.
Sitting around the house? No fresh produce available in the grocery market? Tired of macaroni and cheese? There has never been a better time to grow your own food than in these “Great Lockdown” times. May is the perfect month to plant tomatoes, sweet or hot peppers, squashes, melons, cucumbers, and beans.

Tomatoes, peppers, and squash seedlings are ready to plant

You may have already cleared a plot in your back yard or installed raised beds. But a sunny patch on your patio is great for tomatoes in pots and you can grow delicious herbs in window boxes. Just work your homemade compost or store-bought organic planting mix into the soil then plant your little darlings. Regular light watering helps the seedlings establish good root systems to support vigorous growth once our days turn hotter. Automate the watering process with a drip irrigation system on a timer, or just water by hand for 5-7 minutes every other day during hot weather.

Trellised sugar snap peas

I have heard complaints that Contra Costa garden centers are not open during the lockdown, but this is not true. Home Depot, Orchard Nursery, Sloat’s and others accept phone or online orders and provide for customer pick up in their parking lots. You don’t even need to leave your car. The UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa have recently supplied local garden centers and nurseries with thousands of vegetable and herb seedlings for purchase at a good price. Just call your favorite supplier and arrange for a pick up. You can also order starter seeds from many online suppliers. Our favorite is Baker Creek at , but you may currently experience shipping delays.
There is nothing better than the sweet taste of home-grown heirloom tomatoes in the dinner salad, lightly sautéed summer squash slices as a side dish, or fresh salsa made with your own slicer tomatoes and jalapeno peppers. Enjoying your own Great Lockdown home grown produce may be one of the few new pleasures you discover this year. I know we’ll be enjoying ours. Thanks, Mom. And thanks, Mother Nature!
Email your comments and questions to: In some cases these may appear in future columns.