Gardening has long been a green thumb hobby, but as social distancing increases, many are turning to growing fruits and vegetables to cut down on grocery purchases. Bob Boyd of Boothbay Region Greenhouses has been in the green industry for over 50 years and said the demand for seeds, soil and other growing materials is staggering.
Many people are either repeat customers or have home gardening experience, but there are also many who need all the basics to start gardening for the first time, Boyd said. Customers are asking for indoor gardening, raised beds, and greenhouse gardens.
“We can share some of our knowledge, which is very nice. I swear there have been a lot of new people who have never planted a seed. We fix them with proper soils and containers, seeds and plants after checking their growing conditions at home. “
Boyd said when a customer comes to him for advice he does his best to build optimism because the goal is to make gardening work for everyone. “It is important that we lead them as well as possible. Some people don’t know it’s too early to plant outdoors. We have a lot of 30 degree mornings so we go through our normal spring game to make sure people don’t get thigs out too early – leave them on their deck for a mild evening, but be ready to grab something in or out too cover up. “
The most popular seed requests were peppers, tomatoes, and simple houseplants like lettuce, arugula, and mixes. As people prepare to plant some of these leafy vegetables as the outside temperatures become more hospitable, Boyd said it was important to remember how fast they can grow. “Our advice is not to plant too much at once, because if you plant a whole pack of arugula, it will come out of your ears. We recommend planting less at a time and postponing plantings between two and three weeks. “
While tomato and cucumber seeds can start sowing indoors, some plants do not fare well if they start too early, such as pepper plants, eggplant, and anything else that is grown for the long term. However, any of the heartier plants like cauliflower, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts are fine to grow outside.
“We’re still going a little way to Farmer’s Moon in May, although it’s pretty early this year. In general, after the full moon in May, temperatures are moderate enough to be planted. But we’re on the coast, so someone could get a frost there even in Edgecomb and we’re not down here. “
In addition to knowing when to plant, there is also knowledge of where. For example, extremely moist soil takes time to drain and settle so that the roots can still have access to oxygen.
“You want to make sure that the floor doesn’t get too wet. If you start walking on it or even turning it over, you will lose a lot of oxygen in the soil. Roots still need oxygen to survive. So don’t hurry, it’s better to wait for it to dry out and clump a little than to push it too soon. “
Natural additives like wood ash and coffee grounds are excellent sources to help balance soil pH. Manure and compost are mostly only useful as conditioners for the soil and serve as nutrients for foliage growth rather than for the fruit, Boyd said.
Boyd said soil tests are good for those willing to make the effort to condition their garden soil. He said the best place for sampling is the University of Maine at Oronos Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station. Sample kits and tests are available in the laboratory.
Boyd said gardening was one of the best outdoor activities anyone should do. “You feel better. We can’t go to the Y just yet, so gardening is a great way to get out and do some sports, whether it’s a vegetable garden or just cleaning up the yard. We also encourage people when working in their garden or yard to self-check at the end of the day and make sure they haven’t picked up any ticks. It was a mild winter, so the ticks hardly got dormant. “