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During pandemic, food gardening still surging

The Plant Foundry in Sacramento's Oak Park neghborhood has continued to see demand for vegetables and all other edibles. (Photo courtesy The Plant Foundry)

The Plant Foundry among nurseries seeing high demand for edible plants

Pandemic gardening keeps on surging.

As sheltered Sacramentans try their hand at growing things during COVID-19 restrictions, local nurseries and plant companies continue to see high demand, particularly for edible plants.

“People are really interested in food,” said Angela Pratt, owner of The Plant Foundry in Oak Park. “It’s hard to keep edible plants in stock. Everything edible is really selling: fruit trees, herbs and vegetables, edible vines such as passionflower or hops.

"People want to grow things even vaguely edible. They’re stuck at home, they want to grow their own food — and they can. It’s a good impulse to fulfill.”

Pratt and her staff have embraced social distancing, face masks and other protections during the pandemic to keep both themselves and customers safe. Only three customers at a time are allowed in the open-air nursery.

Angela Pratt wearing a mask
Angela Pratt (Photo courtesy Eileen Lynch)
Thanks to that interest in growing food, business has been good during the pandemic, Pratt added. “This is the first year we’ll sell out of stone fruit trees. We’ve already run out of potatoes; we’ve never done that. Seeds are flying off the racks. We even ran out of roses.”

Pratt also saw many parents getting into gardening with their kids as a part of home schooling during the pandemic. “It’s a way to teach about nature,” she said.

The renewed interest in gardening has gone beyond edibles.

“Houseplants are back,” Pratt said. “Before the pandemic, they were our biggest seller. Sales plummeted at first, but now, houseplants are selling again, too.”


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Dec. 3:

Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!

* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.

* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.

* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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