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Home gardens sprouting in San Diego County

Garden seeds are scarce so San Diegans are turning to seed libraries and vegetable scraps to start a victory garden

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — During this pandemic not only is toilet paper, disinfectant, and flour hard to find. Garden seeds have also become a hot commodities hard to find at stores.

Some San Diegans are using vegetable scraps and seed libraries to sprout a new hobby, and grow their own food supply.

“I really enjoy watching the seeds come up and being able to contribute,” said Connie Winterstein.

She has received seeds from the City of San Diego’s Ocean Beach Library Seed Library. Winterstein has planted fava beans, green beans, dill, and other vegetables.

“Finding ways to be creative. I have the time and these seeds, lots of seeds I have collected,” she said.

Time is what many of us have right now. 

During World War I, Americans planted war gardens. In World War II, they were called victory gardens. Today, with empty grocery store shelves, people are turning to home gardens to become more self-sufficient.

“I really want to encourage people that they can grow their own food. Even if it's small, like basil to start with," said Winterstein.

The Carlsbad gardener is also resourceful. Winterstein said she does not break the bank. 

She has pots and garden beds, nothing elaborate. Winterstein reuses milk cartons, and cuts it in half, pokes a hole in the bottom, and makes her own blended potting soil with compost and coconut core.

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She also replenishes the Ocean Beach Seed Library.

“The idea of the seed libraries is that you are checking out the seeds, but you are also saving the seeds to replenish the collection,” said Destiny Rivera, City of San Diego Ocean Beach Librarian.

The Ocean Beach Library and Scripps Miramar Ranch Library launched seed libraries last year. During the coronavirus pandemic the libraries are closed, but they are mailing seeds to those requesting. 

They said the demand is so high right now they had to pause orders to catch up with supply and backlogs. 

Rivera said the immunity builders have been in high demand and they are running low.

“We quickly ran out of the herb seeds that we had,” said Rivera.

People are also sprouting gardens from veggie scraps. People have shared on social media photos of a head of lettuce chopped off sitting in a container of water, onions, scallions, celery scraps also rooting in soil. 

It’s recommended that you water everyday and move to soil when you start seeing roots. 

Be patient. This type of garden could take at least a month to mature. Seeds can take two weeks to for seedlings and a few months to mature. 

“It teaches you a lot about life. Like anything you learn, it takes time and you can't necessarily control the outcome,” said Winterstein.

The City of San Diego has e-resources you can checkout online during the pandemic on gardening and seed saving.

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