During World War II, food was rationed and supply chains were broken. Families were encouraged to grow “victory gardens” to supply themselves and their neighbors with fresh produce. Now, as we all try to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, planting a victory garden is a smart move. Here’s how to get started.
Find Your Space
The first thing you need to do is figure out where you can plant your garden. Obviously, those of us who have large, sunny level yards are in the best position, but even if you live in an urban apartment, you have options.
A sunny windowsill is enough to grow a few small pots; a window box or shared rooftop garden is even better.
Another good idea is to put in a raised bed instead of tilling the soil directly. Build a bed with boards or, even better, use cinderblocks and plant strawberries or marigolds in the spaces. Raised beds are easier to maintain and are especially good for people with limited mobility.
Do Your Research
Before you start spending money on seeds, you need to know a few things about your soil, your climate, and your household’s preferences. Do you know your USDA hardiness zone? Do you know how much sun your chosen space gets every day or how quickly the soil drains?
Understanding your microclimate is an important aspect of having a successful victory garden. Talk to gardeners in your area–look for online message boards to avoid social gatherings–and if possible, get your soil tested.
Once you have an idea of what will grow in your garden space, then consider what your family (or community) will actually want to eat. Plan for crops that will continue to provide throughout the growing season, with vegetables that peak in spring, summer, and fall.
Order Seeds & Supplies
Now that you have a plan in place, you’ll need some seeds and tools. If you’re able to invest a little extra money now, then heirloom seeds are the best choice. Unlike conventional seeds, heirloom varieties can be saved for next year–or traded with other gardeners.
As far as gardening tools are concerned, it’s worthwhile to buy higher quality. You’ll be using these tools a lot, so look for hand trowels, shears and other essentials with ergonomic grips. You’ll probably be ordering your tools online, so do some research about the best-reviewed brands before you buy.
Before you know it, you’ll have a delicious harvest!