I am writing this post during a time of global pandemic. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is plaguing the world and times are tough.
Frustration and worry seem to have taken over our society and we don’t know when it will end.
What makes these times so tough?
- the economy has shut down, so many people are out of work
- the country is under stay at home warnings, so it is harder to get out and shop
- there are long lines at food pantries because so many people are out of work.
- farmers have food rotting in the fields because restaurants are closed and labor is short.
- social media has fueled the fire of people telling each other what to do and some state governments have become tyrannical.
It sounds like something from a Great Depression documentary, doesn’t it?
But it is our reality now and we need to take control of our own food for the future. After all, that is what homesteading and this website have been about from the beginning.
We need to have control of our food supply from raising our own animals, growing our own fruits and vegetables, knowing how to cook that food and preserving it for the future.
One of the things they always talk about during the Great Depression of the 1930s and the World War II era is people surviving by growing their own food.
This is something we need to bring back in our time. Not just for homesteaders, but for everyone.
Enter the victory garden.
What is a victory garden?
Victory gardens were encouraged by the government, beginning in World War I and during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. Sound familiar?
While those in the country always grew their own food, victory gardens picked up again during World War II in the cities and suburbs.
“As part of the war effort, the government rationed foods like sugar, butter, milk, cheese, eggs, coffee, meat and canned goods. Labor and transportation shortages made it hard to harvest and move fruits and vegetables to market. So, the government turned to its citizens and encouraged them to plant “Victory Gardens.” They wanted individuals to provide their own fruits and vegetables.
Nearly 20 million Americans answered the call. They planted gardens in backyards, empty lots and even city rooftops. Neighbors pooled their resources, planted different kinds of foods and formed cooperatives, all in the name of patriotism.
Farm families, of course, had been planting gardens and preserving produce for generations. Now, their urban cousins got into the act. All in the name of patriotism.
Magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post and Life printed stories about victory gardens, and women’s magazines gave instructions on how to grow and preserve garden produce. Families were encouraged to can their own vegetables to save commercial canned goods for the troops. In 1943, families bought 315,000 pressure cookers (used in the process of canning), compared to 66,000 in 1942. The government and businesses urged people to make gardening a family and community effort.
The result of victory gardening? The US Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 20 million victory gardens were planted. Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables. So, the program made a difference.” Wessels Living History Farm.
What are the benefits of planting a victory garden?
It isn’t really just about the quantity of vegetables you can produce. There are many benefits of planting a victory garden at home this year. Here are a few I could think of:
- It will motivate you to get outside daily to check on your garden.
- It will allow you to take on a big project as a family that will last all summer.
- You will be teaching your family how to grow their own food.
- Your children may start liking new fruits and vegetables if they grow them at home.
- You will have fresh, organic food all summer long.
- Your family will learn self reliance skills that will help them their whole lives.
- It may take your mind off the pandemic, even for a little while.
How much land do I need for a victory garden?
A victory garden isn’t about size, but more about ingenuity.
You can plant fruits and vegetables in containers, in your front yard, back yard, in raised beds or directly into the ground.
Whatever you have space for, get creative.
How do I start my own victory garden?
Like any garden, your victory garden should be practical and manageable.
If this is your first time gardening, here are some tips:
- grow what your family likes to eat.
- mix up seeds you can grow straight into the ground with starts you buy at the store.
- don’t grow more than you can maintain the entire summer.
- make sure you have enough sun, water, space and protection for the plants you are growing.
- find plants that grow well in your area for added confidence.
- start with good soil or buy soil to start your beds.
- add compost to improve the nutrients in your soil.
Here are some additional links for more information on victory gardens:
Here are some additional links for beginner gardening posts:
A victory garden is a great activity the whole family can get involved in.
I know some local nurseries and online seed companies are not open right now. So you may have to get scrappy.
You can trade seeds with neighbors or get seeds and starts from Walmart or Tractor Supply. They may not be ideal, but they will work in a pinch.
We are going to beat this virus and life will eventually get back to “normal”. Hopefully by this summer life will resemble last year.
But growing a garden and benefiting from the harvest can help you get thru this hard time and grow together as a family. So why not try it and see!
What vegetable do you want to grow in your victory garden? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!