Cary, NC – Since I’m stuck in the house 24/7 (mostly), I decided to grow an early spring kitchen garden in a few pots and planters.
I call it my COVID-19 Garden, and it gives me joy every day to watch it grow. It also provides fresh ingredients for cooking and tasty food for the kitchen table.
My COVID-19 Spring Vegetable Garden
Garden stores in Cary, like my friends at Garden Supply Company where I took some of these pictures, are still open and well-stocked.
For an early spring edible garden, my first go-to is always lettuce.
I’m growing Romaine. Other varieties you might find at the garden store include Butter Crunch, Bibb and Mesclun mix. I reckon these six heads will keep us (a family of two) in lettuce until May.
I’m growing the lettuce in a raised planter on my back deck.
Dill is one of my favorite things to grow in early spring. It’s the only time of year I’ve gotten it to thrive. Now is the time if you want to give it a try.
In the kitchen, I add dill to fish, soups, tomatoes, cucumbers and smoked salmon with cream cheese. My experience has been that dill has a delicate flavor that tastes best in the raw, so I add it to fish and soups at the very end.
Unlike dill, parsley grows like a weed. Not fussy at all. The two types I see in the garden store are Curly Parsley and Flat Parsley. Both seem to grow equally well for me, so maybe the difference is aesthetic.
Fresh parsley is a super useful cooking ingredient for pasta, salads, fish, chicken or any food with a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern feeling. It’s also good in a smoothie.
One parsley plant will do nicely in a medium-sized pot 12 inches or larger.
Herbs are easy to grow any time of year. Rosemary is great in a pot and does well from moderate light to scorching sun. Oregano likes 4-6 hours of sun and is useful on foods including pasta, fish, chicken and Mexican dishes. Thyme is excellent for co-planting in a larger container, forming a mass of small, fragrant green leaves. Cilantro thrives in pots. Even lavender has culinary uses.
Too soon: Two of my culinary garden favorites, tomatoes and basil, seem to do best when planted toward the end of spring.
What Are You Planting?
Are you working in the garden with all the extra stay-at-home time? Share your gardening story in the comments.
Story and pictures by Hal Goodtree.