Yesterday, my wife and I traveled to our hometown.  We always go home around Mother’s Day to visit our mom and to decorate my dad’s grave for Memorial Day.  

On this trip, we always go to my favorite greenhouse to buy plants, Hardin’s Greenhouse.  Several years ago, the owner, K. C. Hardin encouraged me to try a Juliet tomato.  Immediately this became my favorite plant.  Every year, I go to the greenhouse to buy my favorite plant.  I know I can get them at other greenhouses, but I’ve always had such great success with the plants from Hardin’s. 

Yesterday, after decorating the grave, my family made its way to the greenhouse.  Normally, the ground outside the greenhouse is covered with plants of every sort.  Cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and every kind of plant imaginable.  Today, as we pulled up, we noticed the absence of plants outside.  Now, what we found out was they had all the plants on the inside because of the expected freeze this weekend.  OK, that’s fine.  Let’s go find that Juliet tomato. 

I searched the many aisles of plants looking for that familiar plant.  I looked at every sign.  Expecting to see that word, Juliet, printed across the sign.  Nothing.  Nowhere!  Where are my Juliet’s? I thought as I searched, “Oh Juliet, Oh Juliet, wherefore art thou Juliet?” Finally, after searching to no avail.  I had to ask.

Where are my favorite tomato plants?  Where are the Juliet’s?  I heard those words I feared I would hear, “I,m sorry sir, but we are all out.” “ We are out of almost everything.  Cucumbers, peppers and most tomatoes.”  I told my friends who run the greenhouse, “I started to call you early in the season and ask you to save me a few.  But I didn’t.”  Now, I have no Juliet’s!  What will I do?  Will these cherry tomatoes they suggested to try instead of the Juliet’s bring me the joy which my Juliet’s have for the last few years?  Only time will tell.

So, where have all the plants gone?  Our lives have been affected in many ways by the Corona Virus.  We have all learned a few new phrases, “ flatten the curve and social distancing.”  We have learned the value of washing hands, and sometimes wearing masks.  Yet, one thing we did not anticipate is the rush by many to plant a garden.  All of a sudden, people are beginning to learn the value of being self-sufficient.  They are learning the best way to ensure that you have food is to grow it yourself.  

Fortunately for me, I am not experiencing a shortage of plants.  Because I am a member of Grow Appalachia, I received several plants the other day.  I received tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and Zucchini.  Someone in our program grew the plants from seed.  They are now being distributed to our participants.  The participants in our program will not be left searching for plants as I was searching for my Juliet’s.

This rush on plants is something I have been noticing all spring.  That’s why I thought I should call and ask the greenhouse to keep me back some plants.  Everywhere I have gone this year, plants have been selling out.  Very early in the season, one store had already sold an entire truckload of ferns.  When I went to find my herbs to plant, they were gone too.This phenomenon of people growing their own food, was something I did not anticipate.

However, this is one good reason for Grow Appalachia.  They have been ahead of the curve in attempting to alert everyone to the need of food sustainability.  

Being a part of Grow Appalachia has encouraged me to be a better gardener.  I have learned many things about ground preparation, and garden planning.  These as well as many other lessons I have learned through Grow Appalachia are increasing my yield and food sustainability.  I have learned there are many new and innovative ways to produce fresh fruits and vegetables.  Container gardening is one of my favorite innovations.  This spring I have planted greens in containers.  Also, I am planting potatoes in 5 gallon buckets.  Another innovation which has interested my is self-wicking tubs.  I am using the self-wicking tubs to grow blueberries.  This way, I can control the pH of my soil and make sure they are properly watered. 

Yes, the plants might be gone this spring because people are seeing the need to grow their own food.  Yet, we may be seeing one good thing come from the Corona Virus; a desire for people becoming more self-sufficient in their food supply.