New Yorkers hoping to add fresh fruits and vegetables to their diets in the time of COVID-19 may not need to go to the grocery store to get them.
GrowNYC, a New York City-based environmental nonprofit, is working to help aspiring gardeners start their own plots in the midst of the pandemic.
Anyone with a backyard or an apartment windowsill with some light can take up gardening, Gerard Lordahl, the director of Gardens and The Governor’s Island Teaching Garden at GrowNYC, told WCBS 880.
Lordahl recommends conducting a “sun survey” before you commit to a particular spot.
“Make sure the spot you choose has a lot of sunlight to grow fruits and veggies — at least six hours of sun per day,” Lordahl said. Newbie gardeners can start out small, with plants like beans and raspberries.
“Beans are really fast growing — they’re successful, they’re nutritious. Beans are usually where people start,” he said.
“Many of the box stores and the garden centers will grow seed-starting mix,” he noted. “These seeds are a little sensitive when they first come up, and you want to have a soil that is rich in nutrition, that holds water, and doesn’t have insects and diseases in it that will attack the seedlings.”
If you aren't able to buy seed-starting mix, planting directly into a backyard garden will still work well, he said. Fig trees, plum trees, pear trees, cherry trees and raspberry bushes are all relatively easy to grow; apple and peach trees are options too, but it’s often difficult to keep them pest-free.
For those who prefer flowers to produce, plants like sunflowers are a good start, Lordahl said. Gardeners with a penchant for pizza, meanwhile, can plant some of their own ingredients.
“If you have pots on a windowsill, maybe grow all those plants that you would put on a pizza, like oregano, and tomatoes, and basil,” Lordahl said.
For those who are still nervous about starting a garden, whether it be big or small, Lordahl offered some words of reassurance.
“It’s a lot easier than people think,” he said. “Seeds grow pretty much on their own if you provide them with good soil, some sunlight and some water.”