Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at people’s homes and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany during World War I and World War II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. These gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” — in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. This made victory gardens become a part of daily life on the home front.
Though hopefully times are much better now, I can’t help but notice when going to the grocery store that so much of our produce comes from other countries — not to mention the outrageously high prices we pay. Farming in the U.S. has dropped substantially in recent decades and now we’re all paying the price (literally) for having many of our fruits and vegetables shipped in to this country. OK, I’ll admit, it’s nice being able to buy strawberries and other things in the dead of winter . . . but, on the other hand, you can just tell that most times they are well past their peak freshness and nutritional value.
So, why not resurrect the Victory Garden and grow your own? It doesn’t take a lot of space, especially if you use raised bed boxes and/or planters. Plus, you don’t have to grow enough to feed a small village. It’s just that we’ve all (hopefully) grown up being taught to eat our fruits and vegetables, so what better way than to grow your own and know that when you do, you’re being able to pick and eat things at the peak of their freshness. And, while you’re at it, why not try canning — that way, you’ll have ample items to enjoy throughout the non-growing season. It’s just another way in which you can “make a difference” — for yourself and your family. Besides, you might even discover that it’s a bit “contagious” and that once your friends see what you are doing, they’ll want to give it a try too.
OK, stop rolling your eyes and saying to yourself, “I’ve NEVER been able to “grow” anything!” It’s really quite simple, and just takes a little planning — like making sure you have the right soil type and amount of sunlight needed for whatever it is you want to grow. After that, I’ve found that it’s pretty much about water — and, well . . . OK . . . I confess . . . I DO talk to my plants. Yes, I’m one of “those people” who chooses to believe that all living things have souls, spirits, or some kind of “awareness” about them. So sure, I make an effort to cultivate “plant spirits” in various ways.
I used to use a fair amount of Miracle-Gro fertilizer, but have found in recent years that our plants do much better if I just put compost in their soil (at planting), and then periodically sprinkle a little over the soil throughout the growing season. I also discovered that, in doing so, we had fewer pest infestations. I plan to follow the same routine this year to see if it works again or if it was perhaps just a fluke. My gut feeling tells me, though, that it will be successful again. I’m truly beginning to learn to embrace the “less is better” concept in many facets of my life — synthetic plant fertilization included.
So what are you waiting for . . . give it a try!