First of all, how are you doing? I hope you are staying well and healthy while being cooped up indoors at this strange time. Try to look on the bright side of things. Victory gardens are making a comeback! Today I want to discuss with you how to grow a victory garden.
What is a Victory Garden?
Victory gardens were private gardens that the government encouraged families to grow during World War I and II. These were also called food and war gardens, and consisted of fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
The government wanted families to grow their own food so that the supply chain in stores was not strained, and to also boost morale of people staying at home while loved ones were away fighting.
Why Victory Gardens Now?
Thankfully, we are not fighting a war with another country, but the coronavirus has put a strain on us in many ways. I never thought I would see empty shelves in Southern California during my lifetime, but here we are, going to stores in hopes of finding basic supplies, including food.
I have noticed that stores are getting more supplies and that people are not hoarding as much around here, but now is a great time to start supplying your own food for you and your family. So, why not grow a victory garden now?
You can avoid lines early in the morning and not worry about whether or not the grocery store has enough food to provide for you and your family. Wouldn’t it be great to just go out to your backyard (or front yard), and pull out of the ground or pick from a tree what you want to eat or make for the day?
Your Victory Garden Space
A traditional victory garden consisted of rows of vegetables to feed a family of 5. You can be flexible with your victory garden, based on your family’s needs and how much space you have to grow.
I am currently growing all of my fruit, vegetables, and herbs in various containers in my patio. I also have some herbs in a vertical wall planter, and various vegetables in a raised garden bed.
Work with the space you have, no matter how large or small it is. Make it work for you and your family. You can even draw a diagram to plan where to you want to grow your food.
Most edible plants grow best and produce great food when getting at least a full day’s worth of sun, about 6 to 8 hours of sunshine, so also keep this in mind when planning out your victory garden.
You don’t want to use just any soil for your modern victory garden. If the native soil in your area works well with plants, you want to use some of this in your mix, since you can save money this way.
Southern California soil can be pretty dense with clay, so a mixture works best here. You can always ask friends, family, or a local gardener what they use in your area for soil.
I used a mixture of Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, some garden lime/dolomite, and veggie and herb fertilizer.
If you have a lot of space to work with, investing in a compost machine and making your own compost might be a great option for you too.
Ask family and friends if they have extra soil, or check out listings on Craigslist for free soil as well. It never hurts to ask around for ideas or supplies!
What Gardening Zone Do You Live In?
Before you invest in plants and/or seeds, find out what USDA Hardiness Zone you live in so you know when to plant certain vegetables, fruits and herbs. You can also ask other gardeners what they plant during specific times of the year.
Plants or Seeds?
Do you want to start with seeds or small plants? If you want to see produce in your victory garden soon or are not comfortable growing from seeds, purchasing small plants may be the better option for you. It really counts on how comfortable and how much patience you have. Both growing from seeds and plants work fine.
I’m starting with seeds for my herbs and veggies. I currently have a small strawberry plant in a container.
Most of my seeds were started in egg crates in my kitchen. I do have one mini greenhouse that came with starting soil that I highly recommend for beginners to use. I would purchase more, but its just cheaper to use egg crates. A bag of starting soil was only a few bucks, so not much of an investment.
Now I just have to wait for all my seedlings to grow in to beautiful plants!
Traditional victory gardens had vegetables, herbs, and fruit growing in them. Your modern victory garden can grow anything that is edible that you know you and your family will consume.
Let’s look closely at what kind of plants you can grow in your family’s victory garden.
You can grow all kinds of vegetables in your victory garden. If you are a beginner, you probably want to start with a few staple vegetables, then add more during the next growing season. Below are some vegetables to start with.
- Green Beans
Another staple to a victory garden are herbs. Herbs are easy to grow and add great flavor to meals. You can grow herbs in pots, a spiral herb garden, a raised garden bed, or in the ground.
Some great herbs to start growing include the following:
Many fruits grow on trees, but if you don’t have the room for trees on your property, there are plenty of fruits that grow on vines, shrubs, and as bushes. And if you do like to eat fruit from trees, many grow well in containers, too. Strawberries are my personal favorite since they grow great in hanging baskets and taste wonderful too!
Some fruits you can start growing in your victory garden are:
I know you’re thinking that flowers are not in any of the above categories. So, why add them to your victory garden?
There are many reasons why growing flowers in a victory garden is a great idea. They add beautiful color to your garden. Certain flowers are great to grow with vegetables since they attract pollinators and keep pests away. You don’t want bugs eating your veggies, so growing some flowers is a great idea!
Some flowers that are beneficial to grow in your victory garden include:
Companion planting is when you plant two or more plants near each other who can help the other grow. This can be two vegetables, a vegetable and flower, and more combinations.
What Kind of Fertilizer to Use?
This can get tricky if you are growing diverse plants next to each other. In general, vegetables, herbs, fruit, and flowers all require special amounts of nutrients in their fertilizer to grow well.
You can always separate your plants into vegetables and herbs, fruits, and flowers. Then, add fertilizer to those specific plants so they get the correct amount.
Watering Your Victory Garden
A watering can or hose will work well if you have a small or medium size garden, but what about a larger one?
An irrigation system can save you time and money if you have a large victory garden. A times sprinkler system can also work well with your garden.
In general, give you plants plenty of water when you first start growing them. You can space out watering time based on what you are planting and the length of time. You also want to look for signs of over or under watering your plants as well.
Some plants may look dry on the surface when they are actually getting plenty of water just a few inches or more underneath. A water stick is a great investment and can tell you how moist soil is further down. This can prevent you from watering your plants too much.
How to Grow a Victory Garden
This is just a basic guide on setting up your victory garden. Do you have a victory garden you are already growing for you and your family? How is your experience going so far? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!