What is a Victory Garden?
Victory gardens are trending again due to Coronavirus—Here’s what you need to know to get started on creating your own victory garden.
Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany during World War I and World War II.
In response to promotional posters, “3 million new garden plots were planted in 1917 and more than 5.2 million were cultivated in 1918” and up to 20 million victory gardens were planted between 1942-44. (History.com) 20 million victory gardens! Can you imagine all those gardens, all that potential and growth–in yards, containers, schoolyards, the company green space? The promotional effort was so popular they turned to educating people on how to preserve their harvests by canning and drying crops. Numbers like that strengthened local food security, garden by garden.
Why Should You Start a Victory Garden?
I’m sure like many Americans right now, you’re feeling a little insecure about your food sources. You may be wondering if we might even see food shortages or economic changes that would impact our food purchasing power. Growing a garden could nurture confidence and a greater sense of food security, as well as a source of healthy fresh food. In the immediate moment, planting, planning and implimenting a garden can be a welcome distraction from the news and media.
Gardening can be a very healing and satisfying way to spend your social distancing time. There is also something very therapudic in knowing that you can be self-reliant and provide food for you and your family.
How much space do you need for a victory garden?
If you are starting a garden for the first time, you’ll need to evaluate your space determine whether you want to plant in the ground, in raised beds, or in containers. Window boxes and even rooftops can be utilized with great success. Are you short on space? Consider working in edible plants around your existing flowers and shrubs.
There is an overwhelming amount of resources out there to help you. Find one you like and go for it! An excellent first garden resource is Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.
Planning Your Victory Garden
With a bit of planning and preparing, you can grow a garden that your family can feast off.
You’ll want to pay attention to where the sun hits, prepare your soil or raised garden bed, and plant your vegetables and other edibles when the timing is right. Use a frost date calendar to know the best timing for your area, and pay attention to plant tags and seed packets for further guidance.
If you’re a small-space gardener, read about growing vertically as a space saving option.
Plan for Your Zone
The USDA hardiness zones provide a guide for what will grow in different climates. You will find the appropriate growing zone(s) listed on seeds, seedlings, and plants. So once you know your zone, this will allow you to choose plants that are suited to your specific growing conditions and increase your chance of success.
What to Plant in Your Victory Garden
Focus on the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you eat regularly to make the biggest impact on your grocery bill. If you are completely new to gardening I would recommend that you start with plants that are easy to grow like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, green beans, zucchini and pumpkin.
Do you like to keep things low maintenance? Then, include lots of perennial foods, so you’ll have less to plant next year. Some perennials I like are rhubarb, asparagus, horseradish, mint, raspberries and apples.
I do most of my plants from seed with the exception of tomato, eggplant and peppers. Whether you choose seeds or young plants comes down to your preference, as long as they’re suitable for your growing zone.
Enjoy Your Victory Garden!
The biggest thing to remember is that gardening is a learning experience. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t turn out the way you want the first time. Be patient and keep trying. I’ve been gardening my whole life and am still learning new and better ways to do things. It’s all part of the journey…enjoy!