By Don Ford

SONOMA COUNTY (KPIX 5) — 80 years ago, during World War II, “victory gardens” were quite popular. Now, during this current war against what has been called “the invisible enemy” of COVID-19, they’re making a comeback.

Gardening is a popular pastime during the lock down. So popular that cars recently lined up when the Sonoma Ecology Center gave away hundreds of tomato plants as victory garden starter kits.

Anyone interested in growing something different — and edible — with their own hands should listen to the advice of Chris Landercasper. As the Director of Organic Agriculture with the Sonoma’s Best Hospitality Group collective, he has plenty of ideas.

“If you’re cooped up at home and you’ve got a window sill, you can plant up a few things in pots,” said Landerscasper.

Another more ambitious option is to buy and install your own raised beds. One Landerscasper had on display featured its own top to keep birds and deer out.

He also noted that there are some plants that produce their own fertilizer.

“Compost is fantastic because it also energizes the mycorrhizal fungi in your soil,” said Landerscasper. “All of these little white bumps on here are mycorrhizal fungi, and this is pure nitrogen.”

Other plants that grow well are lettuce, artichokes and bald cabbage.

“It has a really red rich flavor on the inside,” explained Landerscasper, snapping off a leaf to show the inner part of a cabbage head.

Sugar snap peas grow fast, are easily made to grow across trellises and fences and very popular with kids. But the queen of the California victory garden is red leaf lettuce.

“The best thing about farming is that you can do it and if it doesn’t work, then you can try again. So the best way to get going is to just start!” said Landerscasper.

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