06 Apr Victory Garden
The Rebirth of Victory Gardens
By Rachel Feston, WSU Clark County Extension Master Gardener
In these times of Stay Home/Stay Safe many have dreams of Victory Gardens dancing in their heads. What better way to make use of the uncertainty and anxiety of these times, and to re-localize our food system, than to grow a garden…to provide nourishment for one’s self and family…and perhaps even neighbors.
During the first and second world wars home gardens were widely known as “victory gardens”, and were recommended by The U.S. War Garden Commission. A national campaign urged that every yard, apartment balcony and vacant lot be turned into gardens. The goal of reducing pressure on the public food supply was seen as one’s patriotic duty. And so, too, is the case in this global pandemic.
Creating something fun and edible is a wonderful way to take charge of a situation when we might otherwise feel powerless. And, what a wonderful opportunity to spend time outdoors! Be sure to practice keeping a distance when gardening with others.
It doesn’t take much to get started; a little soil, some seeds, a sunny, or mostly sunny, spot, access to water and loving stewardship can do more than you might think. Nearly anyone can grow something.
As it is still early spring, it’s a bit soon to start planting unless you don’t have a warm greenhouse. But it’s a great time to start planning. Many vegetables, like radishes, beets, chard and kale have short growing seasons; you can be ready to serve up a fresh, healthy salad after just 50-60 growing days. And it’s not too soon to plant cabbage and broccoli starts. There are hundreds of excellent backyard garden books. A couple of my favorites include Square Foot Gardening Answer Book by Mel Bartholomew, which will help you get the most out of your garden beds, and Vegetable Gardening in the Pacific Northwest, by Lorene Edwards Forkner, which breaks down what to plant and what to seed each month. All are designed around our fickle northwest weather.
While so many things are closed for now, the WSU Clark County Extension Master Garden answer clinic is open! Master Gardeners can answer your plant questions Tuesday through Friday via email (preferred) or phone. They can share resources, make suggestions and answer questions.
Radishes, peas and greens of many varieties can be started as soon as the soil warms to a constant 50 degrees. During these cool weather months, take the time to start some summer crop seeds indoors; tomatoes for homemade sauce or peppers for a spicy salsa. All of these can be started indoors on a sunny windowsill and will be ready to go into your garden in late May and early June.
The “victory” in these new modern-day victory gardens may not be only in quantity of produce, but also in the pride that they give us as a community. Like those who grew Victory Gardens before us, we too shall make it through these challenging times. When summer turns to fall, it’s through these new Victory Gardens that we will be able to look back with fewer memories of panic and anxiety and with more of a sense of pride for what we did accomplish.
For a compendium of WSU Extension’s home garden publications, visit http://gardening.wsu.edu/vegetable-gardens/.
To reach the WSU Clark County Extension Master Gardener answer clinic, send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone calls are not preferred, but if no email, your call to 564-397-5711 will be returned.
For further reading:
The Territorial Seed Catalog is full of good ideas too: