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Growing your own vegetables during the coronavirus pandemic

Seed sales are going through the roof in Maine. What you can do with them right now during the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic

PORTLAND, Maine — You may have heard of the Victory Gardens people planted during World War Two. Gardens dense with fruits and vegetables to feed their families... just in case. When times get tough, more people start growing their food. And that is happening now with the coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak

Seed supply companies like Johnny's Selected Seeds say sales of seeds are through the roof. Online orders are up 300 percent.. and half of those orders, the company says, are from new customers. Gretchen Kruysman with Johnny's Selected Seeds says she's never seen anything like this. In fact, the company stopped all but commercial sales for a week to keep up with the volume. 

But there are seeds for sale out there, and garden centers are delivering or doing curbside pick-up if you are itching to get outside and do some gardening this weekend. 

It's not growing season yet, but there are things you can do and plant right now.

Rake up the soggy leaves and dead plants from your garden. While the soil is clear, go ahead and fertilize your plants. Different types of plants like different types of fertilizer depending on whether they like acidic or alkaline soil, so check online or ask at the garden center. There are special fertilizers for trees and shrubs as well. Once you've added fertilizer to the base of your plants, you can put down mulch, and your Garden will look great. But if you can work the soil, you can plant now. Trees and shrubs abound at the garden centers.

For your lawn, got ahead and rake up the thatch, or dead grass, so that some soil is exposed. Now is a great time to fertilize or put lime down in your yard. It helps to know what your soil needs. You can pick up a Cooperative Extension test kit at your garden center. Many are still open for curbside pick-up so you can call in your order. If you want to put some grass seed down, you need to wait until the end of April or early May, once the change of frost has passed.

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In the Garden, rake thoroughly and mix in a good about of compost to add nutrients back into the soil. It is too early to plant vegetables outside but can start some of them inside. Tomatoes, eggplant, herbs...are all fine to start now. You will need some sort of dome for your planting tray until the seeds germinate. Once you see them coming up, you can remove the dome and put in a sunny spot. Remember to keep them moist but don't overwater. You can also start fast-growing vegetables such as lettuce and spinach now and harvest them right from your indoor planter.

If you need color, the pansies are out and ready to go. Just ask your garden center if they have been hardened off. If not, you will need to bring them inside at night for a while until they acclimate to the cool temperatures.

Enjoy! Hope you get outside and get some fresh air!

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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