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Victory Gardens Return to Popularity

March 13, 2010 Garden Gazebo No Comments

War GardensWith the tough economic times we are facing right now, families are looking for ways to stretch their food budget dollar.  A good way to do that is to look back in time around the World War I era, when “Victory Gardens” became popular.  Community and family gardens were planted anywhere a small patch of land could be found:  yards, city parks, public lands, and even railroad rights of way (this could pose a challenge when tending your garden).  These gardens were planted by families as well as for community cooperatives.

During World War II, the Victory Garden emerged again.  Due to the rationing of food products, the Department of Agriculture informed citizens that if they wanted fresh fruits or vegetables, they should plant Victory Gardens.  Americans took hold of the suggestion, and immediately started to grow vegetable gardens.  It is noted in some accounts that Victory Gardens produced around 40 percent of the nation’s produce.  Can you imagine that?  Now we get our fruits and vegetables from all over the world, shipped in various forms of transportation, burning whatever fuel it takes to get those fruits and vegetable here.

With the economic downturn, wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the effects of global warming and our carbon footprint, protecting the environment, concerns over food safety, and wanting better tasting food, folks are looking into the Victory Gardens once more.  Community gardens are great, especially in the inner city, as they encourage social interaction and self-reliance, beautify neighborhoods, produce nutritious and good tasting food, help families with their food budget, and as a side benefit offer recreation, exercise, education, and therapy for some.

First Lady Michelle Obama has set an example by planting a garden at the White House, and involving students from the inner city to take part.  This is the first Victory Garden planted at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt planted one during World War II.  For more information on starting and planting a community garden in your area, you can check out the American Public Gardening Association web site (www.publicgardens.org) or the American Community Gardening Association web site (www.communitygarden.org).  Another resource for education gardeners for growing a garden from seed would be the National Garden Bureau at their web site (www.ngb.org).  For those who have a garden, whether a community garden, or just one in your own backyard, consider planting an extra row and donate their surplus to local food banks to feed the hungry in your community.

When starting a new garden whether in your yard or your community, an important key element is the soil.  This will determine the success of your garden.  Most county agricultural extension services offer soil testing.  They can also tell you about your plants, and solutions to problems you are having with your plants and/or soil.  You might need to amend the soil with nutrients to balance your soil.  Other important elements are sun and moisture.  Vegetable need full sun and moisture, so be sure your site has a southern exposure and access to a water supply.

And if you don’t have a plot of land, or live in an apartment, you can still have a garden.  Look at all these “as seen on TV” portable hanging gardens.  You can get tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, and other fruits and vegetables.  All you do is put the plant in this hanging “basket tube”, fill with soil, and water.  A friend of mine had a couple of tomato ones, and she had a bountiful harvest.

Also, I had planted an assortment of herbs in standing urns just outside my kitchen, and I always had fresh basil, mint, and rosemary for my recipes.  Not only did the plantings in the urns look pretty and smell delicious on the patio, but I didn’t have to bend over too far to pick the herbs.  By filling the urn (depending on the size) halfway with the foam packing peanuts, then add your soil, your urn is not that heavy so if you need to move it around, you can.  The best time to get these urns is at the end of summer when they are deep discounted before they bring out the Christmas items.  You can also get those little glass globes that you fill with water, and they self water your plants.  However, I tried them, and they didn’t work too well for me, others may have had better success with them.

Happy Gardening!

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