In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety about food shortages is high. While we know that there is no true food shortage, one has to wonder: during the time of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, how will the pandemic affect the food industry and our nation?
While there is no need for panic, we can do our part to reduce the stress on the food industry and on ourselves. Victory gardens are an easy and effective way to ease the burden of food in the global economy and eat responsibly. And, perhaps more importantly, gardening is an effective tool for regaining mental strength during the time of isolation.
What is a Victory Garden?
A victory garden is also called a war garden or “food garden for defense.” They are essential home gardens and are planted all over the world in times of crisis — from world wars to influenza. Usually personal or small community gardens, Victory Gardens consist of herbs, fruit, and vegetables.
Victory gardens are used to ease the strain on food industry and laborers in hard times. Historically, they are largely successful in doing so! For example, by the end of World War II, victory gardens were responsible for 40% of the vegetables grown in the United States.
What Were Victory Gardens
Victory gardens first began in March of 1917 — about one month before the United States officially entered World War I.
The United States Department of Agriculture began urging people to contribute to the war effort by growing fresh vegetables and produce at home, using phrases like “Grow Victory” to encourage patriotism. During World War II, citizens were actually limited at the grocery store; they were only allowed to buy specific amounts of certain food.
The theory was this: If Americans could grow more produce at home, then trains and trucks would be freed up to transport soldiers, vehicles, and weapons. Additionally, if citizens act locally, they could feed more soldiers with commercially produced food.
In both World War I and World War II, the American people took up their war responsibility with gumption. At the peak, there were more than 20 million victory gardens planted across the United States. That’s one garden per six people.
Victory gardens were planted in front yards, back yards, containers, and more. Urban dwellers began planting small victory gardens in window boxes and on rooftops where the whole building would pitch in to help.
Americans grew carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, beets, peas, swiss chard, herbs and more. They ate largely from their home gardens while excess food was canned and used during the winter months to supplement the food supply.
All of this gave Americans the sense that they were contributing to the war effort and building up the home front. By the end of World War II, more than 1 million tons of produce was grown in victory gardens during the war.
The New Victory Garden During COVID-19
During this global pandemic, victory gardens are a meaningful and healthy way to contribute to the noble cause. A victory garden may look different today depending on where you live. It can be a growbag of fresh tomatoes, a container garden of peppers or a rooftop garden of fresh herbs.
The victory garden of today is more than just about the usefulness of the harvest. It’s about coming together as a community — as businesses and as families. It is a way to nurture and be nurtured. Above all, it is a practice in growing gratitude.”Donna Letier, CEO of Gardenuity
Apart from producing fresh and completely sanitary produce for you and your family to eat, a victory garden keeps you and your loved ones away from the grocery store, leaves fresh produce at the store for those who don’t have the means to grow it, and offers you opportunities for a healthier life mentally, emotionally, and physically.
The 2020 victory garden is more than “sowing the seeds of victory.” It’s about showing support for your community, facilitating a healthier mental/emotional state of being, creating education opportunities for your kids at home, and finding entertainment for the whole family.
Whether you use your garden as an entry point for meditation or as science lessons for your kids, your victory garden will help you and your family through this tough time. Growing a victory garden is a process that is full of joy and meaning — things that are vital during this isolation order.
How to Plant a Victory Garden
Starting a garden is easier than you think. Follow these steps to create your coronavirus victory garden.
1. Choose your method of growing.
There are many ways to grow a garden. Each method has its own benefits and downfalls. If you have a garden bed already, you can grow in there. If you’re a beginner grower or an urbanite, try container gardening.
Container gardening is a simple and forgiving method of growing. You need only a windowsill or patio to grow successful harvests. Because it’s a small area, it’s easier to control the variables in the environment. For example, if there’s a storm outside, you can wheel your garden indoors or under shelter.
Use a container garden kit to avoid the trip to the garden center. Gardenuity container garden kits come with everything you need to grow (soil, plants, nutrients, and container) and are delivered directly to your doorstep in accordance with social-distancing standards.
For more information, you can read our complete guide to container gardening.
2. Pick your veggies wisely.
When growing a victory garden, it’s important to choose veggies or herbs that you will use. The whole point is to avoid trips to the grocery store, so pick veggies that you and your family eat often. Don’t grow something no one will eat or you will tire of quickly.
Additionally, you need to pick veggies that meet you and your environment’s restrictions. If you don’t have very much space, choose to grow herbs on your windowsill. If you live in a cold climate, choose to grow cold-hardy veggies like spinach.
When growing with Gardenuity we use our Match Technology to ensure you are matched with the perfect plant that will produce a successful harvest!
3. Plant and care for, according to instructions.
Each vegetable has a unique set of needs for planting and tending. Read carefully the instructions you receive with your seed packet or container garden kit. Do some online research — the best tips are found after a little bit of digging!
The Sage Gardenuity blog covers many of your vegetable garden, planting, and care tips. You can also reach out to our Grow Pros for day-to-day questions and planting information.
The key to successful gardening is to simply pay attention.
Check on your garden every single day and observe closely. As long as you’re doing this, you will be able to provide for your gardens needs and ensure a successful harvest.
4. Harvest, eat, and share!
The whole point of a victory garden is to eat it. Harvest according to your plant’s instructions and enjoy the fresh produce. Take this time at home to develop a new hobby in cooking with your fresh eats.
If you have extra produce (and we hope you will), can your veggies or leave them on your neighbor’s doorstep — sharing your harvests is a perfect way to connect to your friends.
Whatever your victory garden looks like, growing is about connecting — with yourself, your family, your community, and (in the case of a victory garden) your nation. Sow your victory garden now with Gardenuity.
Gardenuity has reimagined the community garden in the time of the Corona Virus. Click the link to discover how to grow together while staying apart.