Importance of growing food

Patricia Hanbidge

Every year that we live brings us new happenings. In January of 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of a new coronavirus a pandemic, which caused a public health emergency of international concern. This triggered strict measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 that has impacted all of us. For me personally, it has meant that my days now include home schooling of my granddaughter who is in Grade 1. For me professionally it has truly reaffirmed the importance of simple living, which includes growing food.

Those of us who like to garden get pleasure from gardening as well as the bonus of great homegrown food. We may be tired of gardening by fall and appreciate how nice it is once the frost comes and our outdoor gardening is complete, but come March we are missing the garden and what it gives to us. Thus, living in a climate that does not allow 12 months of growing outside means that for many months we need to either rely on what we have preserved, go to the grocery store to ensure we have a balanced diet or grow your own food indoors.

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Remembering what plants need to grow will help us to determine how difficult it might be to grow food in the winter indoors. Plants need light, water, warmth, oxygen and food to grow. As we are in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is a long way away from us in March, so supplemental light would be necessary in order to get good growth once your seeds begin to grow. Thus, if we choose to grow most anything other than sprouts, we would need to invest in a grow light.

Light is one of the most important factors to consider when growing plants indoors. When choosing plants to grow this time of year to supplement your diet, think about the light that they need to thrive and ensure it is appropriately situated under your grow light. Follow the directions on the seed packet and remember that generally a seed is planted to the depth of the diameter of the seed. It is important to keep the media moist to ensure even germination so covering the pot with a plastic wrap until most of the seeds germinate is a good idea.

Once the seeds have mostly germinated, they will need to be put directly under the grow light to ensure the seedlings develop into strong, healthy plants. If you notice that your seedlings are tall and spindly, it is likely because they are not getting enough light. As the seedlings grow, gradually raise the light to coincide with their rate of growth.

Be innovative in what you wish to grow. Some good ideas include a variety of types of lettuce. They germinate quickly and can be harvested before too long, ensuring you and those who are close to you can enjoy fresh lettuce rather quickly. Other ideas will depend on your palette but arugula, corn salad, greens like amaranth, atriplex, beet, chard, choho, claytonia, cress, mibuna, mustard and kale are all fun to grow and great to eat.

Enjoy the time you have been granted to be less busy with some of the regular life things you might usually be doing. Grow some food, enrich the life of children, who now are not attending school, with life skills that will serve them well for their entire life. Teach them how to grow food and build our world into a better more sustainable place tomorrow and after COVID-19.

Hanbidge is the Lead Horticulturist with Orchid Horticulture. Find us at www.orchidhort.com; by phone at 306-931-4769; by email at info@orchidhort.com; on facebook @orchidhort and on instagram at #orchidhort.

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