A fridge full of fresh produce and a shelf stocked with herbs and spices—sounds like the perfect combination to be stuck with at home! Since we're all limiting the number of trips to the grocery store we're making, having fresh food when we need it can be challenging. That's where victory gardens come in!
History of the Victory Garden
Across the world, including here in the United States, victory gardens became popular during the First and Second World Wars. At the time, transportation and production were mainly focused on the war effort, which led to various shortages, including food, for the everyday person. Food became rationed, and to supplement the food supply, governments encouraged families to grow their own food in what became known as "victory gardens."
Governments displayed posters and sent out pamphlets teaching people all about gardening, like suggested vegetables to grow and the general message that anyone can garden with a few simple tools. Not only did these victory gardens help supplement food rations, but they also gave civilians a much-needed boost in morale. People felt united through this simple, meaningful, and necessary project.
Grow Your Own Victory Garden
To help us get through these uncertain times, we think a morale boost and fresh home-grown food sounds like things we could all use. Here are some basic tips to get you started on your own victory garden.
Plan ahead. Think about what veggies, herbs, and fruit you and your family like to eat, and plan your garden accordingly. Consider how much you'll eat of each item to determine the number of plants to grow. Remember, you can pickle and can some of your harvest to make it go even further! Keep in mind that the last frost date here in Allentown is at the end of April, and some plants can't survive cooler temperatures — plants like tomatoes, basil, and peppers should be planted outside only after any risk of frost has passed.
Get creative to make the most of your space. If you don't have much space in your yard for your crops, or if you have only a small balcony or patio, you can still grow a productive victory garden. Try planting smaller edible plants, like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and radish in containers—and use hanging baskets to really maximize the space you have. You can also add edible plants into your landscape design. For example, leaf lettuce grows well in partial shade, so you can put it at the foot of taller plants in your yard. Wherever you plant your victory garden, add fertilizer, manure, or compost to your soil to help your plants grow even faster and healthier.
Grow a mix of plants. To attract pollinators and beneficial insects, grow flowers near your edible plants. Plant them along the border, in the same container as your edible plants, or in their own pot. Flowers, especially perennials native to the area, attract those helpful critters that are incredibly important to a healthy garden. Besides adding flowers to the mix, try planting both slow- and fast-growing crops. That way, you can harvest the crops at different times so that you always have fresh produce in the fridge.
Think beyond veggies. Vegetables are important, but so are fruits and herbs. Try growing strawberries in a hanging basket, adding a couple of berry bushes to your yard, and—if you have enough space and patience— grow some cantaloupe plants to round out your victory garden harvest! Include planters filled with fresh herbs, like basil, oregano, and rosemary.
Maintain your garden. Once you have your garden established, don't forget to take good care of it! Not only will this help out your plants, but it will also encourage you to get moving. Check frequently for weeds and pests, water and deadhead plants regularly, and harvest when your crops are ripe, all of which will lead to a healthier garden!
Though we might not be able to visit with friends, family, and neighbors right now, we can still feel connected to them through gardening, just like what victory gardens achieved decades ago. Share tips with family and friends, have virtual dinner dates with meals made with produce from your gardens, and compare who had the most plentiful crop—all in good fun, of course! If you need any supplies to get started on your victory garden, visit us or get in touch.