3 popular vegetables to grow in your Southern Maryland “pandemic garden”

Kimberly Bean
Kimberly Bean
Published on May 13, 2020

In Spring 1917, “Sow the Seeds of Victory” was a phrase familiar to all Americans. We hadn’t get entered “The Great War” that had ravaged our allies’ food supplies. In fact, Americans were helping feed the world.

All across Europe, “agricultural workers were recruited into military service and farms were transformed into battlefields. As a result, the burden of feeding millions of starving people fell to the United States.”

And, as Americans are wont to do, we rose to the occasion and planted food in our backyards and in vacant lots, school grounds, and parks.

“As a result of these combined efforts, 3 million new garden plots were planted in 1917 and more than 5.2 million were cultivated in 1918, which generated an estimated 1.45 million quarts of canned fruits and vegetables,” says Laura Schumm at History.com.

We find ourselves at war again today, only this time the enemy is a virus. Across Southern Maryland and the country, the rush to stock up left supermarket shelves bare for weeks. And now, weeks into the pandemic, many items are still in short supply.

We’ve risen to the occasion again. Americans across the country are planting their own version of yesterday’s Victory Garden (originally called War Gardens). Smart gardeners bought their seeds well in advance of planting season; seeds are of one the items in short supply right now. IF you’ve joined the country’s new vegetable gardener crowd, keep reading. We have some tips for growing the three most popular crops.


There’s no question: Tomatoes are the most popular crop for home gardeners by far. Nurseries run out of starter plants quickly. Tomatoes are easy to grow – and can be grown in containers – provide a large yield, and can be used in many ways.

The time it takes to grow a tomato depends on the cultivar you bought, but it typically ranges from 60 to more than 80 days.

Tomato plants are susceptible to several disorders, diseases and pests. The one that stymies new gardeners the most is blossom-end rot. Caused by a lack of calcium in the plant, new growers automatically assume that supplementing the soil with calcium will cure the disorder.

But, more often than not, the cause is inconsistent watering. Once the gardener begins watering the tomato plant consistently, the disorder typically clears up.

Need more tips on becoming a world-class tomato grower? Visit Sunset.com.


Above everything else, cucumbers require heat and consistent moisture in the soil. Get that right, and you’ll be successful.

One of our favorite things about growing cucumbers is that if you buy the bush type you can grow them in small gardens or even in containers.

Grow cucumbers in rich soil, in full sun. When you’re preparing the soil, add about two inches of well-rotted manure or compost and mix it into the top 6 inches of soil.

For more tips on growing cucumbers, from planting to harvest, watch this video at YouTube.com.

Bell Peppers

New gardeners can’t go wrong growing bell peppers – they’re a definite confidence booster!

Plant bell peppers in full sun – the longer they get sunshine every day, the larger your peppers will be.

Follow the soil advice for cucumbers, and make sure that the soil drains well. The soil temperature should be at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit before planting your peppers into the garden.

A good rule of thumb is to provide the bell pepper plants with an inch or two of water a week. During periods of intense heat, or if you’re a desert gardener, you may need to water daily. Like tomatoes, bell peppers are also susceptible to blossom-end rot so create a watering schedule and stick to it.

Get more tips on growing peppers and advice on how to spot problems at Almanac.com.

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