It’s time to grow your own.

Day 12

Yesterday was a beautiful day because the sun was shining. Since the lockdown, smog is practically non-existent and the air feels good.

One thing you have to know about Italians is that they are addicted to sunshine. It’s not unusual to see them sitting at an outdoor café with their eyes closed and their heads leaning back pointed upwards just to feel the sun on their face. So on a day like yesterday, people were out like snails after the rain. They just had to get some sun. That’s why the line at the grocery store was unusually long.  New way of sunbathing!

Pierluigi went to do the shopping so I got my sunshine on the balcony. Because we generally spend spring and summer in Greece, our balcony is populated by yuccas as they are a DIY plant and need little care. But now it will be difficult to go to Greece as no one knows how long this lockdown will last. So I’ve decided to reconfigure our balcony with the new reality. Here in Italy, at present, we have no problem with food shortages. However, since production of everything has been limited, it’s only obvious that soon less food will be available. It’s, therefore, important to get organized now.

Container Garden

my balcony lettuce

Unlike many of my American friends, we don’t have a yard. The only space we have is that of a very narrow balcony good for a limited container garden. I already have lettuce growing as well as herbs (thyme, parsley, chives, and rosemary) but want to plant even more.

Arugula, bok choy, kale, and chicory, from what I’ve read, only take a month to grow big enough for harvesting. Unfortunately, I have no seeds and can’t buy them because of the lockdown. But I do have some seeds I collected this winter to take to Greece—mainly cherry tomatoes and bell peppers.

There are many vegetables you can grow from scraps but many take time. Lettuce and green onions seem to be the easiest and quickest to do.

See, too, How to Grow Fruits & Vegetables from Food Scraps


Yesterday, in Italy, the worst death toll: 627 dead and 4670 new infections.

One problem with data given from various countries is that there is no standardization as to how data is interpreted. Some data is interpreted based on those who died only because of the coronavirus whereas other data is interpreted based of those who died of the virus in addition to other pre-existing conditions (such as old age, diabetes, heart problems, etc.). Italy’s statistics are based on the latter.

To determine the number of potentially infected, one method has been to multiply the number of dead by 100. For example, if 25 people have died, potentially 2,500 have been infected. However, there are many variables that can influence this number. In Italy, we have a high number of elderly so we have a higher rate of death. But, again, there is no certainty in these equations.

The peak in Italy is expected on March 25th. If, after this date, the number of infected goes down, we will be ok. If, instead, it goes up, we are in deep trouble.

rai twitter mar 21

Because the death toll is so high and the number of stupid people walking around as if they are on holiday, the military has begun to patrol the streets in Milano and police in Rome are blocking the streets.


related: Victory Gardens

8 Insanely Fast Vegetables You Can Harvest In One Month

‘If coronavirus doesn’t get us, starvation will’: A growing number of Americans say they can’t afford to stock up on groceries

Coronavirus impact on labour supply fuels food shortage fears

Farmers call for ‘land army’ to sustain UK food production during coronavirus crisis

Will coronavirus affect food supply? First problem: A possible shortage of workers

Coronavirus: What are shops doing about stockpiling? (Britain)

About Art for Housewives

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6 Responses to It’s time to grow your own.

  1. Maggie Le May says:

    It would be so nice to sit in some warm sunshine – and It’s too early to plant lettuces here. I do admire your blog and look forward to it. Many thanks

    • Many thanks for the comment Maggie! I spent the morning moving vases …it was difficult because they were heavy and there is so little space to push them around in. I’ve never appreciated the balcony like I do now! Just being out in the sun with plants has totally changed my mood. Nature, again, has shown itself to be the best therapy.

  2. Cristina Margarita Gomez Sarabia says:

    Hi dear Cynthia, I do thank you for posting with useful information. My husband and I are on lockdown since the 14th thanks to cancelation of all activities at the university of Guanajuato where we work. We have a large garden and I planning to grow some more vegetables, even though there has not been any shortage jet. I am starting to clam down. I was very anxious because we belong to the most vulnerable group, age, and me diabetic. Send you big hug. And thanks again¡

    • Cara amica mia, you are lucky to have a large garden. It will be of great comfort not just because of the food but because the contact with nature is so tranquilizing. What is important is not to have contact with others–wear a mask and wear rubber gloves when you go out. Of course, washing hands is important. The most important thing is to stay home to avoid getting infected or infecting others. The incubation period for the virus is 5 days then 11 days to see symptoms. So 2 weeks in all. Besitos from afar

  3. Hi Cynthia! I have been reading and admiring your art for a long while and never realized you were in Italy. Now, I am more focused. Super hyper-focused now, and thank you for the details and the virtual sunshine. Ironically, I was working on a cookbook sequel before this all hit, so I was stocking up and learning weird tradecraft in the kitchen just in the nick of time.

    • Thank you Nancy for writing. Yes, it’s time to be very focused because the coronavirus is here to stay. I would love to read your cookbook…maybe you can give us some hints on how to deal with Lockdown Cooking…having to make ALL of our meals is a bit stressful. Any suggestions?

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