During WW 1 and a few years later during WW 2, people in the U.S., Canada, and Australia were encouraged by their governments to grow their own food to help with possible shortages. By growing their own crops, commercially grown food was used to help feed the soldiers. People grew crops in every patch of free land, public gardens, window boxes, patios terraces, and rooftops. Gardens were planted in school and churchyards and every patch a land imaginable. People felt they were doing their part to win the war, and it helped boost morale and show their patriotic duty for their country.
It is estimated by 1944, 20 million victory gardens were planted in the U.S. and produced 80 tons of food! By the end of the war, over 40% of all fresh vegetables and fruit in America was grown in Victory Gardens. The United States government printed numerous free pamphlets on how to plant a Victory Garden, pest control, and tips on how to grow specific crops like corn and potatoes.
The government encouraged people to plant easy to grow vegetables such as Beets, Beans, Cabbage, Peas, Kale, Turnips, Lettuce, Spinach, and Garlic, Swiss Chard, Parsnips, Carrots, Corn, Onions. Potatoes, and herbs. In addition, people grew strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
After the wars, people continue to grow their own food. They were able to grow fresh and organic vegetables, and many enjoyed being outside and working in the soil. Today, with soaring food costs and worldwide uncertainty, it may be a good idea to start growing some of your own food.
I recently inherited a plot of land right beside my present garden. I plan to grow my own vegetable garden this spring. Victory Gardens can be a large container on your patio or a plot of land.
Plan your space. If you have some land to grow your garden, plan it out on a piece of paper and what and where you plan to grow your crops.
Prepare your space. If you are using a pot, make sure it is fill with good potting soil. If you are using a plot of land, dig it up and loosen the soil with organic material. You might want to consider a raised bed.
Select the vegetables you wish to plant. My mother sent me some birthday money in February. I used the money to buy vegetable seeds and later some plants to place in my garden. Make sure you have the room for your plants to grow. Melons and pumpkins are nice, but they take up a lot of room!
Plant your vegetables. Many make the mistake of planting things too early. If you have grown pepper and tomatoes from seed, wait until the last frost and for the soil to warm. Some vegetables like peas and spinach like cooler weather, but tomatoes and pepper prefer the heat and humidity of summer. Give your plants enough space. Sweet corn seeds may look small, but they grow into large plants, so you need to give them room to grow!
Water, fertilize, and weed. Plants like corn and tomatoes like lots of fertilizer. Of course, it is important to provide enough moisture for your crops to grow. Allowing weeds to grow in your garden will take away the moisture and nutrients for your vegetables. Always watch for bug infestation and animals who might find your juicy crops very tasty!
Ohio State University has a nice website on planting a Victory Garden and gardening in general. https://u.osu.edu/ohiovictorygardens/
I’m very excited about planting my first full scale vegetable garden. In the past, I’ve grown plants in large pots or a raised bed, but spring will be the first time I plant an in-ground vegetable garden. I encourage all of you to plant and grow some of your own food anywhere you have room to do so! This summer, I’m looking forward to eating my own sweet corn dripping with butter!