My faith in humanity is buoyed by you smart Vineyarders. Your reaction to sheltering in place? Not only did you start cooking more, but you ordered more vegetable and flower seeds and started planning bigger gardens. Some of you pledged to start gardens for the first time, too. All over the Island, tiny seedlings are sprouting on windowsills in breakfast rooms and under lights in basements. I’ve seen photos on Facebook of the very young and the very old working together to fill seed trays. Longtime Island gardeners already have their peas and leeks in the ground. Here in my own home, the dining table is about to disappear.

My new seeds arrived from Fedco and Johnny’s weeks ago. And I have plenty of seed-starting trays and six packs leftover from my farming days. But I couldn’t get anything started inside without soil. Good seed-starting soil. My favorite? Vermont Compost’s Fort Vee germination mix.

On Tuesday, I phoned SBS, which I knew was still open since they’re a vital source of animal feed for farmers. Yes, they had Fort Vee, Isabelle Dupon told me, and yes I could pay for it over the phone and pick it up on the front porch. In fact, Dupon told me, to protect employees, SBS is only opening the store from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the morning; pre-order with curbside pick-up is available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I was glad to hear about that sensible plan. I’ve promised myself not to make unnecessary shopping trips, so even venturing out for a drive with my partner Doug Sederholm to pick up the soil made me feel a little sheepish. But at least it was a no-contact shopping expedition.

Susie Middleton is ready to garden. — Jeanna Shepard

Back home, I flipped through my seed packets, trying to decide what to start indoors. (Snap peas, English peas, kale and arugula I will direct sow in the garden.) I’ve got a beautiful new variety of chard called Silverado, a new flowering Thai basil, and a new (to me) lettuce called Mayan Jaguar Romaine. Lots of Benary’s Giants zinnias and Cupcakes cosmos for cutting. But I wanted to find out what everyone else was doing so I polled my gardening friends.

Turns out people are thinking big — and practical.

“Every windowsill has a makeshift mini-nursery in front of it,” Nicole Cabot of West Tisbury told me. Her husband Ben Cabot has been on a planting tear: peppers, basil, savory, peas, tomatoes, artichokes, lemongrass, watercress, arugula, spinach, lettuce and mushrooms. “At first it seemed like overkill, but not anymore,” Nicole said.

Tisbury’s Amandine and Louis Hall are expanding their deer fence and building more raised beds. With three small children at home, they’re focusing on things the kids will eat, like Sungold tomatoes (which Amandine cooks down and freezes, too) and more peas. They’ll still grow plenty of Amandine’s beautiful dahlias and lots of their favorite beefsteak tomato, Pineapple.

In West Tisbury, Rachel Austin Baumrin and Christopher Lyons have cleared some land in order to build a small greenhouse on their property.

David Fielder has already started 10 kinds of tomatoes, lettuce, kale, chard, and spinach indoors. He has a great system of movable shelves outfitted with grow lights, located on his porch. Fielder’s fenced vegetable garden is substantial, but this year, at his wife Libby’s request, he’s adding a 2’ x 6’ raised planter just for greens and herbs right outside their kitchen.

Heather Thurber of Breezy Pines Farm said that she and her husband Travis are going to plant all their garden areas this year, something they haven’t done since their farm stand was open to the public in 2004.

But what if you’re just starting out?

Tom Hodgson, who affectionately calls his large garden off of Music Street Wishetwurra Farm, summed up the best advice: “Keep it simple.”

“For anyone starting a garden, try not to do too much,” he said. “A small plot well-tended will give you better yields and much more satisfaction. Too much garden can be no fun at all.”

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, after years of being a small farmer, I’ve returned to kitchen gardening. I have three 4’ x 4’ raised beds spaced with ample room to work around each, surrounded by a deer fence. The whole thing is only about 10’ by 20’. Deer fence is not optional on the Vineyard. For even more protection, it’s a good idea to add chicken wire at the bottom (dig a shallow trench) to inhibit rabbits and voles.

Another small-space strategy is to plant smarter. Hodgson, who said he’s planting more than usual to share more with friends and family this year, noted that with tomato blight a problem in recent years, he’s picking tomato varieties with the best blight resistance so that he’ll get good yields. (Sadly, that means few heirlooms.) He’s also growing more paste tomatoes for freezing and for drying in a dehydrator.

To make smart use of space — and grow something relatively trouble-free — Hodgson recommended pole beans for beginning gardeners. His hands-down favorite variety happens to be mine, too: Rattlesnake. Though they take up more room, I also grow a variety of bush bean that won me a few blue ribbons at the Fair: Burpee Beananza.

Polly Hill Arboretum executive director Tim Boland, who’s also an avid home gardener, recommended yet another bean variety: Maxibel Filet. And Boland offered another idea for space-conscious gardeners: growing microgreens. He buys different mixes from Johnny’s Seeds (mild to spicy) and grows them in terracotta pots all season long.

Clearly, Islanders love their beans and their tomatoes. But if you’re curious about what else grows best on the Island, here are the results of an informal poll I took a few years ago while writing an article for Martha’s Vineyard magazine called Holy Homegrown! The top 10, in order: Salad greens; kale; tomatoes and cherry tomatoes; cucumbers and pickling cucumbers; basil; parsley; sugar snap peas and shelling peas; green beans; zucchini and summer squash; and hardy herbs like thyme and sage.

Read the rest of Holy Homegrown! for tons of growing tips plus three fabulous illustrations of different sized kitchen gardens. You can also find more specific tips on growing salad and cooking greens in my latest magazine article, Hey, Who Ate the Bouquet?, on You might want to make the Creamy Parmesan Greens Gratin recipe that goes with it.

One last note about seeds. A huge surge in seed-buying has affected sources, and right now Johnny’s and Fedco are not selling seeds to non-commercial growers. As far as I know, Burpee and Fruition Seeds are still filling orders. On Island, SBS is re-ordering and restocking after getting cleaned out. Call ahead to see what they have. (They do have seed-starting materials in stock.) But your best bet may be to reach out to friends: many Islanders have excess seeds. And remember if you want to grow vegetables, you don’t have to start your own plants right now. You can wait to buy plant starts at Island nurseries, which still plan to have plenty of stock available.