During both World Wars, the public food suppliers and farmers were under enormous pressure. You see, lots of them were off fighting, and lots of food was needed to send to soldiers overseas.
So on the homefront, countries like America, Canada, and the U.K., families planted victory gardens.
Victory gardens were plots in public parks, the front and back yards of homes, and any other unused land space meant to grow fresh vegetables. In fact, during World War II, the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that between nine and ten million tons of produce were harvested from victory gardens across the country.
(Fun fact: that’s how we got Swiss chard and kohlrabi in America – they’re so easy to grow!)
Right now, we are all being encouraged to stay inside, limit our grocery shopping to no more than once a week, and stay calm. Lots of people around the country are stockpiling bread, eggs, pasta, rice, and canned goods.
But man does not live by bread alone, does he?
It’s time to victory garden… not because the supply chain is strained, but because our access to it is.
In a moment, we’ll get into how you can get started right now. First, it’s crucial to understand that gardening doesn’t just increase our personal stores of produce.
Gardening makes us happy. From the beneficial microbes in the soil, to the powerful effects of vitamin D on the body’s immune system, to the dopamine release you get from building your own urban garden…
There are too many benefits to ignore, especially during a time when we could all use more health and stability in our lives.
Now, let’s talk about getting started.
Everyone will be working with different available spaces. Get creative with finding sunny areas!
Do you have deep window sills? Sunny spots in the house? A fire escape or a balcony? A front yard or backyard? Empty gardening pots? Access to a roof?
That’s the wonderful thing about gardening – life will find a way to grow.
Seedlings can be planted indoors and transplanted to spots in the ground, so even if you don’t have it all figured out right now, you can still get growing.
You can start with the barest essentials: potting soil, a container, seeds, and sunlight.
If you’ve got plenty of outside space you can use, consider square foot gardening! It’s organized, effective, portable, and spacious. Shoot for 200 square feet per mouth-to-feed. (Meaning, if you have a family of four, try to set up 800 square feet of growing space.)
Then, decide what you want to plant. Here are a few tips to keep in mind…
Perennial plants take all season to grow, so they in turn use valuable garden real estate for longer. Examples: asparagus, artichokes, rhubarb…
Vining crops need space to grow outwards and upwards, so keep that in mind when you’re arranging your vegetables in rows or pots. Examples: melons, squash, cucumbers…
Succession Plants are plants that can be grown in each other’s soil residue, one right after the other. You could plant the same quick-growing plant over and over, or you could plant a heat-loving plant right after your spring-plant harvest. Examples: peas, beans, carrots, lettuce, radishes…
What to Plant Right Now
You want to be thinking spring, fast, and plentiful.
Spring: Spinach, peas, curly kale, lettuce, radishes, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, pepper, cauliflower
Fast: Spinach, radishes, turnips, arugula, lettuce, beans, curly kale, peas, carrots, scallions, cucumber, chard, summer squash, kohlrabi, broccoli
Plentiful: Potatoes, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, welsh onions, okra, squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, radishes, kohlrabi, chard, lettuce, spinach
Every family could use a win right now. The coronavirus doesn’t see wealth, circumstance, morality, age, or race – it is affecting everyone.
Stay home. Stay safe. Stay well-fed!