Many people have difficulty naming an upside of the COVID-19 pandemic, but longtime Juneau resident Judy Hauck isn’t one of them.
For her, winter gardening on North Douglas has been the unexpected silver lining of COVID-19. She’s enjoying fresh, homegrown produce this winter, despite the sub-freezing temperatures and snow-covered ground.
“I’ve been able to grow enough lettuce plants for us and our neighbors,” she said. “We are having a tough time keeping up and eating all the lettuce,” she said.
Since retiring, Hauck usually leaves town for the winter. However, COVID-19 has kept her local this year, and she’s found a new form of gardening success by moving her summer plants inside for the season to extend their lives and growing microgreens right in her kitchen.
Summer vegetables get a new life
An avid gardener with over 100 house plants, Hauck first considered bringing her summer vegetables inside when the cooler fall weather arrived.
She suspected she might have luck inside based on her experience growing tomatoes.
Hauck explained that she tried to grow tomatoes in a greenhouse for several years with only marginal success. Then, she left a pot in a south-facing window, and they flourished.
“One summer, I got a few tomatoes and left them in the window, and all of a sudden, they were flowering. They grow beautifully just inside the window,” she said. “They grow better in the house than in the greenhouse. I can’t explain it.”
This year, she nursed her inside tomatoes into January and brought other vegetables inside, as well.
“I had carrots in a pot outside over the summer. I brought them into my garage in their dirt. I just picked them last week. They stayed nice and fresh and sweet.”
She said they ate their last cucumber at Christmas.
Skipping the produce aisle
A desire to skip the grocery store combined with lackluster produce through grocery pick-up services led her to try growing lettuce and microgreens inside this winter.
“Mostly what I have going are lettuce and a few kinds of microgreens. Basically, I’m not going to the grocery store for produce,” she said.
She explained that she’s using a basic shop light and empty yogurt containers to keep the greens growing on a shelf in her home.
“I put one lettuce seed in each container, and 40 days later, we have lettuce to eat,” she said.
Hauck said the lettuce and microgreens are easy to grow right on the kitchen counter, but she cautioned against using the wrong seeds.
“Don’t try to do microgreens with seeds from the store,” she said. She suggests ordering seeds from seed catalogs.
She also offered advice on harvesting the microgreens.
“Microgreens are like a sprout, only planted,” she said. “It comes up an inch or two, and you harvest them before it’s totally a plant.”
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