Growing a victory garden in an expression of support for the recent pandemic efforts is gaining popularity. However, you may be wondering, What, exactly, is a victory garden?
Victory gardens started during World War I when European agricultural workers were recruited by the military and farms were transformed into battlefields. Suddenly, the United States was granted the task of feeding millions of people worldwide, most specifically their overseas allies. A National War Garden Commission was created to encourage Americans to plant gardens, or “sow the seeds of victory,” from which they could harvest and store produce for exportation. By the end of the first World War, the bounty the war gardens provided was so plentiful that the efforts soon became known as “victory gardens.”
Victory gardens again cropped up around World War II to supplement the war’s resulting food crisis and as a way to boost morale and enhance patriotism, while also taking the stress off of domestic commercial farmers.
Currently, almost all Americans have been instructed by their state governments to stay at home amidst the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. The resulting idle time has created a reemergence of using victory gardens as an offering of hope for a better tomorrow. Similar to our wartime patriots, people nationwide are finding joy in the act of sowing seeds with their children and loved ones. The plants that result from these seeds represent the opportunity to start anew, once the current crisis recedes.
For many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, sowing seeds outside is not yet possible, as the threat of frost is still imminent. However, you can start your victory garden indoors (or inside one of our nifty Growhuts greenhouses) right now. Get the kids involved and talk to your teachers about using your garden as a homeschool science lesson. Students can record what they sow, measure the progress of their growing plants, and then transplant their starts when the weather warms up. Older children can also research the concept of victory gardens and write an essay outlining their efforts.
Starting a garden indoors, or in a greenhouse, is simple. First, purchase potting soil and seeds from your local hardware. (They’re still open!) Salad greens like arugula and kale are good picks, as they are cold-hardy and can be harvested as tender microgreens. Throw in root vegetables like carrots, beets, and turnips to mimic the gardens of wartime growers. You can even give slow-to-mature vegetables, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash, a good head start by planting them early and indoors.
Local garden stores may sit idle for a few more weeks, making supplies limited, but you can improvise by using Dixie cups or old egg cartons to sow your seeds. Keep the soil moist and warm (cover your planted seeds with plastic wrap) and place your plantings in a sunny window or inside your greenhouse. In a few weeks, sprouts will emerge. Wait until your sprouts grow into small plants (about 4- to 6-inches tall), and then harden them off by placing them outside daily for a week or two during the warmest part of the day (make sure to bring them back inside at night). Once hardened, plants can then be transplanted directly into an outdoor garden bed.
That’s the lowdown on the victory garden hype.
It’s a pretty great idea to get excited about as we experience and contribute to a tremendous shift in the human psyche. Planting a garden with your family offers a way to transform feelings of isolation and fear into a productive celebration—one that will last throughout the summer season. Also, victory gardens help raise our vibration by connecting us with the vital practices of our forefathers.