Victory Gardens 2020

During World War II, the US government had to make sure that our fighting men had enough food to sustain them. In order to achieve this, many food items such as sugar, butter, milk, cheese, eggs, coffee, meat and canned goods. In addition, the war effort left the country with a shortage of labor needed to transport fruits and vegetables to market. So the US government encouraged people to plant gardens to meet their demands for fresh produce. Because these gardens were meant to help the war effort, both at home and abroad, they became known as Victory Gardens.

According to the website for Wessels Living History Farm, nearly 20 million Americans jumped on the Victory Garden bandwagon. They planted gardens in backyards, empty lots and even city rooftops. Neighbors pooled their resources, planted different kinds of foods and formed cooperatives, all in the name of patriotism. Thanks to the efforts of these victory gardeners, people had enough fresh produce to meet their needs.

Now we are engaged in a different kind of war. The enemy does not carry guns, drive tanks, fly warplanes, or sail battleships. In fact, this enemy isn’t even human and is well-nigh invisible except under the viewing power of an electron microscope. Yet this enemy is just as deadly, if not more so, than a thousand invading armies. Just as in World War II, this enemy destroys lives and disrupts our economy. Many items such as meat are in short supply. And once again, the supply chain that brings our food to market is threatened. Now, more than ever, we Americans need to take certain aspects of this war effort into our own hands.

Just as not all Americans were able to be on the front lines of battle during World War II, here in this war, not all Americans can be doctors and nurses treating patients or scientific researchers trying to develop a vaccine. But just as our grandparents grew their own produce during that 1940s world conflict, we can do likewise during this one. So once again, it’s time to revive the Victory Garden for 2020!

Now, more than ever, growing your own produce is the thing to do. With our supply chain disrupted yet again, the time is now for all Americans to do their part to help us achieve victory over this terrible pandemic. And once more, your contribution can be as simple as planting a few seeds and raising enough fruits and vegetables to meet your family’s needs. Better still, join with other families in your immediate vicinity, and plant a large garden that will feed all the families in your neighborhood. You can designate a third for fresh eating, can another third for winter, and donate the rest to a food bank to feed the needy.

With enough of these 2020 Victory Gardens, we can make sure that all of us are eating fresh, wholesome, and nutrition-packed food to keep our bodies healthy. And healthy bodies have a much better chance of surviving a disease infestation than nutrient-deprived bodies. And healthy bodies fed by the nutritious produce produced in 2020 Victory Gardens can be a small but important contribution to winning the fight against COVID-19.

To paraphrase a line from a 1940’s Captain America comic, you’re in this war even though you don’t operate a ventilator, drive an ambulance, or work up an assay. And victory gardens are a mighty weapon in this war. So get together with your family and plant a 2020 Victory Garden today!

Serious Success with Succession

 

Human beings by their very nature are a curious race of people. We are all striving to learn new things, to expand our skill, knowledge, and the reach of our minds. Yet all too often, when it comes to certain topics, we become mired in limited thinking. When it comes to gardening, for example, many of us still think of gardening as a spring, summer, and early fall activity. We plant our seeds and seedlings in the spring, cultivate them in the summer, harvest them in the fall, and spend the winter dreaming about when we can be outside in our gardens once again.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Through the technique of succession planting, we can garden nearly all year long. How, you ask? Well, I’ll show you with a rough plan. Feel free to take what I’ve given you and modify it for your own allotment (to use the British term).

Late winter/early spring – In late February/early March, purchase seeds of cool season crops – lettuce, arugula, gourmet greens — brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, mustard, etc.), peas, and others. Start these indoors under grow lights. You can also get an early start on your tomatoes by starting them indoors under your grow lights. I usually start mine around the first week of spring. Meanwhile, when the first decent weather day comes along, prepare the soil in your garden by working in some compost, earthworm castings, organic fertilizer, and any other soil amendments that you feel is needed. If you did all that the previous fall, then you should already have loose, rich, fertile and friable soil all ready to go. Lay down mulch now to reduce or eliminate your weeding chores later. When the seedlings that you’ve started indoors are big enough, transplant them into your garden. You can protect them from extreme temperatures by surrounding them with a season extending device – bell cloches, Walls O’Water, cold frames, etc. If a frost should occur, your plants should be safe. Besides, a little frost actually improves the flavor of kale.

You can also prepare your garden for an early start for tomatoes and any other crops by digging the holes where you want to plant them and surrounding them with a season-extending device. This will warm up the soil and get it ready to receive those tomato seedlings.

Mid-spring – Keep the spring crops well-watered and well-fed. If you are using a cold frame, make sure that you vent it on warm days, otherwise the heat trapped inside might burn up your plants. Get an early start on your summer crops (corn, cucumber, eggplant, squash, sorghum, muskmelon, watermelon, etc.) by starting these indoors under your grow lights. The tomato seedlings you started should be mature enough to plant in the holes that you’ve surrounded with season extenders.

Late spring/early summer – By now the weather is beginning to get quite warm. Harvest all the lettuce before it bolts (produces a flower), mustard before it becomes pungent, and all of the remaining spring crops before it gets too hot. Memorial Day weekend will be a good time to transplant the summer crops that you started indoors in mid-spring.

Mid-summer – Keep all vegetable plants well-watered and well-fed. Start planning for fall by starting fall crops indoors. Many of the same vegetables you planted in the spring also work well as fall crops. In addition, this is also a good time to start root vegetables (turnip, rutabaga, parsnip, leek, carrot, etc.).

Late summer/early fall – Begin pulling up the remaining summer vegetables and clear space for fall crops. Transplant the fall vegetables from your seed starters indoors to your garden.

Mid fall – Pull up the remaining summer vegetables and start cleaning up the spent plants and other garden debris. Be careful not to damage your fall crops. This is also a great time to plant garlic and onions for next summer’s harvest. Be sure to clean and store all tools, hoses, etc.

Late fall/early winter – Clean up any remaining summer garden debris and begin harvesting your fall vegetables. If you wish, leave a few root crops in the ground for winter usage.

Mid-winter – Do you have a hankering for parsnip-leek soup? Clever you – you left a few parsnips and leeks to overwinter in your garden, and now you don’t have to waste gas, time, and wear and tear on your car to get them. Just put on a coat, walk a few steps into your backyard, and harvest what you need. (Note: if you live with others, please be mindful of your choice of words. Say, “I’m going out in the garden to dig up a few root vegetables.” Don’t say, “I’m going out in the garden to take a leek.”)

Remember also that you can preserve some of your harvest through canning, freezing, drying and cold storage, giving you additional supplies of the good stuff that you can enjoy all year round.

And there you have it. A simple succession planting plan. Done correctly, it will give you wholesome, nutritious, home-grown garden vegetables practically all year round.