Safer at Home Gardening

nico cover photo

By Nico Anduze
Investment Advisor Representative

Many of us have taken up new hobbies as an attempt to stay busy while obeying the Stay-At-Home order. Financial Advisor Nico Anduze is a University of California Certified Master Gardener and has tips on how you can start your at-home garden. Follow his 4 simple steps for great results!

18th-century poet Minne Aumonier wrote, "When the world wearies, and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden". As we all do our part by heeding the guidance from our public health and political leaders to stay safer at home, what better time than now to start an indoor garden?

The times we are living in are uncommon but as a nation, we've faced similar challenges to our norms. I am going to share some history about the role that gardening has played in difficult times and I will share some creative gardening techniques that my soon to be a five-year-old daughter and I have implemented while adhering to the safer at-home protocol.

Gardening has a unique history during times of national emergency in America. During World War I, the National War Garden Commission, a division of the Department of War (the predecessor to the Department of Defense) called on Americans to grow food wherever they could. Industrial agriculture was not the force that it is today, and gardening became a civic duty as people genuinely needed to grow their food to sustain themselves. Gardens were planted at schools, on fire escapes, balconies, rooftops, empty lots and backyards. These were known as Victory Gardens and the movement gained traction across the US and abroad.


As the Great War ended, so did the national campaign to promote Victory Gardens. The subsequent decades saw the rise of the industrial agricultural complex, advances in refrigerated transport of goods and the emergence of the large grocery store. Victory Gardens were mostly forgotten until the outbreak of World War II. While our country's biggest farms had created a great capacity to produce food for domestic consumption, many farms contracted with the Dept. of Defense to supply food to allied forces in Europe as nearly all of France and England's agricultural capacity was destroyed.

This time of national crisis compelled the reemergence of Victory Gardens and brought people of all backgrounds to the soil once again. According to the University of California Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, it is estimated that during World War II, community, school, and home gardeners produced close to 40% of the country's fresh vegetables from about 20 million gardens.


Fast forward to 2020 and we are faced with yet another national crisis. Unlike those 20th century circumstances, we have one of the world's most advanced food supply chain systems. We have millions of mail carriers, UPS, Fed-Ex and gig-economy workers that tirelessly deliver mail, food, and other products to our homes. While maintaining safe social distancing, be sure to express gratitude to those individuals. We decided to make and put a sign on our front door thanking them.


Starting your Safer at Home Garden

Step 1: Get Your Supplies

To start, you will need soil and seeds which can be ordered online or over the phone and delivered to your front door. You will also need containers, think pots or boxes. We decided to recycle an egg container to plant the smallest seeds then move them to pots once they are about an inch tall.


I recommend an all-purpose potting soil such as Dr. Earth's Pot of Gold. Depending on how much space you have allocated will determine the size of the bag of soil you need. For a small indoor garden with herbs and a few pots, a 20 qt. bag will be sufficient.

For seeds, consider what you enjoy cooking with and what flowers you like. My daughter loves Sunflowers and Zinnias so we ordered those. I enjoy cooking with Oregano, Sage, and Thyme so we ordered those. Seed companies and nurseries have comprehensive planting guides if you'd like to get very specific but remember, keep it simple and don't overthink it.

Three California based family-owned companies that provide online and telephone ordering that I recommend are:

Armstrong Garden Centers
Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply
Renee's Garden

Step 2: Plant Your Garden

You have your soil, seeds, and containers so now what?

- First, make sure to clean the containers and any other tools like scissors with hot water and soap.
- Add your soil to the containers and give a good amount of water so that the soil is moist when you plant your seeds. If your containers have drainage, be sure to use a saucer or water over a sink.
- Most seeds need to be planted between ¼ to 1 inch below the top of the soil so use your fingers to gently make little holes for the seeds then plant and cover.
- Lightly water the topsoil, making sure not to pour too much. Depending on how much light they are exposed to, you'll want to water a little bit every day. Each seed packet has instruction on how much light but typically seedlings enjoy about 4 hours a day.


Step 3: Label and Monitor Progress

Having a preschool-aged child means that we have a large supply of popsicle sticks that come in handy for labeling plants. Check back with your plants a few times a day to make sure the soil is not dried out and water a little more if needed. You won't see results in a day or maybe even a week but keep track of when you planted them to monitor the progress.

Step 4: Watch Your Plants with Perspective


Not all of your seeds will sprout. As you can see, 9 out of 12 or 75% of our seeds sprouted. A general rule of thumb is to expect 90% of seeds purchased to be viable for planting and about 80% to sprout under ideal circumstances. If your seeds do not sprout at all, that's ok, you can start again as each packet of seeds will contain dozens of seeds.
Once you've had some progress, you can track how quickly they grow and know what to expect for the next round of planting. In May, you will have dozens of happy herbs, flowers, or other plants you selected.

It is a great occasion to be productive with the unexpected time we are spending indoors. There has never been a better time to start an indoor garden or get your finances organized by speaking with a Comprehensive Financial Planner like me. While we are not planting Victory Gardens to feed our families, friends, and neighbors, we all do our part to stop the spread of the Coronavirus by staying safer indoors.

Stay well and keep planting,

Nico Anduze

Nico Anduze is a Financial Advisor of Santa Monica, Calif-based Gerber Kawasaki Inc., an SEC-registered investment firm with approximately $1billion in assets under management as of 03/02/20. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which course of action may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. Readers shouldn't buy any investment without doing their research to determine if the investments are suitable for their situation. "All investments involve risk and one should consult a financial advisor before making any investments. Past performance is not indicative of future results."

Schedule a call with an advisor, free of charge.
Read more by this author
  • The Robo Said What?
  • GK Volunteer - Nico Anduze