Victory gardens are home vegetable gardens that were originally born out of necessity. They got their start during World Wars I and II, when people grew their own produce to free up food for the war effort and help stabilize the country’s food supply.
What You’ll Need
Plants or seeds of your choosing (suitable for your growing area)
Vertical planters are space-saving champs: Today in “You can do it!”: Gardening. You can indeed start a victory garden in order to grow herbs and produce in as much space as a small deck or balcony. Even a sunny windowsill can foster pots with enough fertile soil for a small crop. Need inspiration? Consider the history of the term “victory garden”: Americans grew their own food in 1917, as we rolled into WWI, in order to allow the U.S. to send food to European allies where hunger was rampant. Americans stepped up; people grew their own produce; they lessened reliance on the food supply chain.
Nowadays, things aren’t quite so fraught, but going to the grocery store can be. And there’s so much satisfaction to be had in growing and eating your own snap peas or herbs. There’s an awesome range of produce that does well even in tricky conditions. Here are a few smart tips to get you going, plus resources to get the rest of the way once you dig in—get it? —and get growing.
A sunny patch in the backyard is an obvious choice for a victory garden, but it’s not the only option. Window boxes, containers, and even rooftops can be utilized with great success. Are you short on space? Consider working in edible plants around your existing flowers and shrubs.
Are you stuck with a shady backyard? Then, think about planting your victory garden in the front yard. Many fruit and vegetable plants are actually quite attractive, so there’s no need to give up curb appeal. Plus, front yard gardens are becoming common in some neighborhoods. And even if they aren’t yet sprouting up your neighborhood, you could start the trend. Just make sure you follow local ordinances.
No space to garden? See whether there are any community gardens in your town. Or consider asking a friend whether you can garden on their land in exchange for a cut of the harvest.
The USDA hardiness zones provide a guide for what will grow in different climates. You will find the appropriate growing zone(s) listed on seeds, seedlings, and plants. So once you know your zone, this will allow you to choose plants that are suited to your specific growing conditions and increase your chance of success.
Catalog companies are usually the cheapest source for seeds and plants. Place your order early, and they will ship everything out when it’s time to get plants in the ground. If you need soil amendments, those are typically best purchased locally to save on shipping fees.
Focus on the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you eat regularly to make the biggest impact on your grocery bill. Are you new to gardening? Then, start with plants that are easy to grow. Do you like to keep things low maintenance? Then, include lots of perennial foods, so you’ll have less to plant next year. Whether you choose seeds or young plants comes down to your preference, as long as they’re suitable for your growing zone.
While you’re waiting for spring to arrive, pick up some gardening books from the library, and learn everything you can about gardening. Also, check to see whether there is a master gardener program in your area and how you can consult with one. Ask at your local garden center or community college about classes, seminars, and people you can talk to about starting a garden. If you’re a beginner gardener, a class can open your eyes to many common gardening issues.