Victory Gardens are making a comeback. This time with an emphasis on growing healthy food and self-reliance.
Made popular during World War I and II, communities and homeowners grew Victory Gardens due to government rationing. Families at the time were encouraged to grow gardens for food. By 1944, Victory Gardens produced 40 percent of all vegetables grown in the United States from an estimated 20 million Victory Gardens.
People with no yards planted Victory Gardens in window boxes and planters, or turned to community gardening. Schools also participated, using the produce in school lunches. People canned excess food grown in these gardens that they then used during winter.
Gardeners of all stripes, from newbies to veterans, desire to live sustainably. That has given rise to the resurgence of Victory Gardens. People want to know where their food comes from and grow it organically. They’re composting plant material and vegetable scraps, which helps preserve the climate and protect our earth’s precious natural resources.
Sure, gardening costs time and energy. But it’s a victory when it takes minimal investment and helps you save on produce, all the while helping you do your part in preserving the environment.
7 steps to Growing your own Victory Garden
1. Plan and plant your garden
With a bit of front-end planning and preparing, you can grow a garden for edibles. You’ll want to pay attention to where the sun hits, prepare your soil or raised garden bed, and plant your vegetables and other edibles when the timing is right. Use this frost date calendar to know the best timing for your area, and pay attention to plant tags and seed packets for further guidance.
Get more details on how to plant an edible garden for veggies, herbs and fruit all season long. Get more ideas getting the most from your new garden. On a budget? Learn ways to stretch your gardening dollars.
If you’re a small-space gardener, read about growing vertically or join forces with a community garden in your local area.
2. Water smart
Begin your edible garden the smart way and keep plants and soil moist. Investigate the latest in watering devices, such as hose timers, hose connectors, soaker hoses, drip irrigation and irrigation systems.
Give your plants water only when they need it and save money, time and energy when you do.
3. Incorporate a no-till method
When you incorporate a no-till method in your garden, you’re leaving the soil intact with all its nutrients. Just think about how tilling the garden disrupts the habitats of earthworms and microorganisms, as well as nutrients in the soil. Earthworms are diligent natural aerators of garden soil, as are some other bugs. When disturbed, the soil’s infrastructure breaks down. Tilling also can dig up old weed seeds.
So try this method and save your energy for other tasks in the garden. Get started using this planting hack.
4. Start composting
Compost does more for your soil than you can imagine. Compost brings life to the soil. It is full of good bacteria and ready to place on the garden as mulch or soil amendment. For the climate’s benefit, composting helps soils hold carbon dioxide, leading to emission reductions.
Compost can be made in a compost bin, wire enclosure or an unused area of the backyard. Collect green matter such as fresh grass clippings, vegetable matter and fruit peels or egg shells, apple cores, organic tea leaves, organic coffee grounds and non-diseased plant material. Get ideas for composting for the beginner and learn how to compost through every season.
5. Rotate crops
Vegetable gardening pulls a lot of nutrients out of soil, leaving some plants vulnerable to contracting diseases and attracting pests. For this reason, you’ll want to rotate your crops to keep edibles at their best year after year. When you rotate crops, you interrupt the life cycle of certain pests and diseases and allow the soil to replenish. This organic technique will improve your gardening by keeping the soil fertile and discouraging plant disease and insect problems. That means it boosts your garden and helps the climate.
Learn more about boosting your soil with crop rotation.
6. Can or freeze the bounty of your garden
Get the taste of summer for longer when you preserve your fresh garden vegetables. Try small-batch freezing or canning without the hassle of long hours of processing. This simple approach means small quantities of sauces, salsas and casseroles that you can store in the freezer. For instructions and ideas, see our story on small-batch preserving.
Not time pressed? Then try traditional tips and tricks for canning and preserving.
7. Remember the pollinators
When you plant a garden of tasty flowers and treats for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds around your vegetable garden, you’re encouraging pollinators to continue pollinating plants. They’re vital to our earth’s ecosystem.
Spread wildflower and pollinator seed mixes and tried and true favorites like zinnias when the soil is workable in spring. As a bonus, you’ll have a lovely cut flower garden in addition to a pollinator habitat. Some fragrant herbs also flower, including lavender and pineapple sage. Learn how to create a garden buffet for pollinators.