During both world wars, Americans were encouraged to contribute to the war effort by planting their own vegetable gardens and producing their own food. War gardens, or victory gardens as they were known, were planted in backyards, parks and playgrounds, churchyards, and even vacant lots all around the nation.
Sowing the Seeds of Victory
The recent coronavirus pandemic is being likened to a war. At the very least it is perhaps the most precipitous reminder that we are no match for Mother Nature. We are truly living in turbulent times on a global scale and we are vulnerable. But we have survived turbulent periods many, many times throughout history and often come out the other side the better for it. It often starts with the actions of individuals.
In recent years many people have taken to gardening, inspired by the desire to eat locally and seasonally, and to reduce their carbon footprint. Now that we are all self-isolating, more of us have begun to dig in the dirt, and can and bake (apparently, sourdough is a thing now), along with other simple transcendentalist arts to bring out our inner Thoreau.
Gardening as a food source is a fantastic way to supplement your weekly produce purchases and reduce your grocery budget. Not to mention providing a perfect excuse to get outside and get your hands dirty. Children can play a big role in creating and maintaining a vegetable garden as well, all while learning a myriad of educational lessons from ecology, to geometry, biology and beyond.
For the beginner, this Smart Gardener App is a tremendous source. It walks you through every step, based on your zip code, and will even help you plot out your garden, select what you can plant each week, and send you notifications and reminders to help you along the way.
And Rutgers has a great online source, as well as a hotline that you can call or email.
As your experience grows, so will your garden, and you’ll be thankful you took the time to organize and prepare. But as with any new undertaking, in order to achieve success, we must scale our expectations and start small to yield the best results. To throw ourselves in headlong, without proper research or preparation would be to set ourselves up for failure. We must take the time to realistically assess our available time, level of commitment, and available resources before we begin what should be a rewarding endeavor. Location, layout, size, soil type, seed vs. seedling, and plant variety are all necessary considerations when designing a garden.
Think you don’t have enough space in your yard to cultivate a productive vegetable garden? You may be surprised at how little amount of square feet is needed! And there is always the option of a container garden, either contained in one or two large planter boxes, or spread out amongst smaller pots and urns you may already have on hand. Building the planter box can be an activity in itself, that will make the project that much more gratifying!