'V' for Victory Gardens

 

Victory Gardens were first developed in 1917 during World War I to help alleviate the food shortages caused by many of the world’s agricultural workers being called to war. Victory Gardens were again called into action during World War II, not only to allow more industrial processed foods to be shipped to the soldiers, but also to help alleviate some of the burden of food rationing.

 

People grew their own fruits, vegetables, herbs, and in some cases, meat, to allow the rationing stamps to be used for things they could not grow, such as sugar and coffee.

 

Just so you know: This post contains affiliate links; if you click on a link and make a purchase I might make a small commission but it does not affect the price you pay!

 

 

A Different Kind of War

 

The World Wars are now a section in our history books, but in many cases there is still a war going on – loss of job, health, cost of living. It is tough to pay your regular monthly bills, and even tougher to have enough left over to feed your family. Most incomes stay the same, even when the cost of living rises.

 

 

The Farm Wife in the Kitchen

 

 

We may still have jobs, but our budget is tight. We search for ways to cut our expenses. I love Martin Jones’ viewpoint of gardens as insurance. Growing Victory Gardens are definitely insurance against not being able to feed your family.

 

Considering the idea that so much of our farmland is being sold to developers and converted into housing and commercial areas, we all need to consider having just such an ‘insurance policy’. These are just some of the reasons we grow our own version of a Victory Garden.

 

 

V is for Victory!

 

If you think you would like to begin your own Victory Garden, here are some helpful tips to get you started:

 

 

V is for Victory Gardens

 

 

 

Grow What you Eat in your Victory Garden

 

Make a list of everything your family likes to eat. Around here, we eat the basics – tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, okra and beans. This year I  added some trial rows of Great Northern Beans, a favorite of the Country Boy We don’t like eggplant or zucchini, so we rarely grow that. We have limited space, so we utilize what we have growing what we know we will eat.

 

 

Victory Garden Vegetables

 

 

 

Consider the ‘Added’ Flavors

 

We frequently use things like bell pepper, jalapenos, onion, and celery when we cook. Although I haven’t tried celery yet, it is definitely on the list. Bell peppers are grown, seeded and sliced in half to put in the freezer for year-round use. Jalapenos are turned into sliced and canned, Candied Jalapenos, and eaten fresh. Onions are something I have tried, without success, but will attempt again.

 

 

Don’t Forget the Herbs

 

Herbs are another added flavoring, and can easily be used as companion plants in order to save space. I plant basil between my tomato plants, and parsley between my peppers. Having them close together also helps during harvest.

 

 

Straw garden hat in a Victory Garden

 

 

 

Start your Victory Garden Small

 

You don’t have to have a forty acre truck farm to grow food for your family. Start with a small garden, and add to it as you go along. I originally had a 30’ x 33’ kitchen garden, and now have three more that are 20’ x 20’.

 

I have organized them for rotation and seasonal, long-term planting such as wheat. Containers and raised beds are also excellent ways to have a small garden. Consider your needs and space, and then start your garden accordingly.

 

 

 

 

Care for your Soil

 

Even the smallest households and gardens can produce compost. Although we have started a larger one, at one time I used a Mini-Compost System (this is an easy DIY – listed under Mini Compost Bins) that helped me add at least some healthy nutrition to my soil. Also learn about rotating your plants. When you plant the same thing in the same place year after year, you encourage diseases and pests. I learned this lesson the hard way when I lost too many of my tomato plants to hornworms.

 

 

 

 

Make Your Victory Garden Easy

 

Mulching is one of the best things you can do to control weeds in your Victory Garden. I use a combination of newspaper and straw. After I plant, I run soaker hose tape around my plants. I cover that with a layer of newspaper, then top it off with straw. For more great information on this, visit Tamara over at The Reid Homestead, who has a great in-depth article – The Secret to Easy Gardening – to get you started with this!

 

 

Seeds for Victory Gardens

 

 

 

Buy Heirloom / Save the Seeds

 

Heirloom plants are true to type plants. If you plant a Granny Cantrell tomato and save the seeds, then next year you will get a Granny Cantrell. A hybrid is bred for certain qualities. It is impossible to know what other plants are involved to get the desired results. Planting a hybrid seed is equivalent to ‘paying your nickel and taking your chances’, but chances are you won’t get anything close to what you wanted or expected.

 

My favorite place to get heirloom seeds is through Mary’s Heirloom Seeds.  Her seeds have an excellent germination rate, and she frequently runs a sale – which makes ordering seeds cost-effective!

 

 

The Farm Wife - Book

 

 

When you try to figure out the best insurance for your home, farm and family, shop in your own backyard first. Find a sunny location and invest your time and energy in one of the smartest ways to claim Victory for your family. Fresh, healthy, home-grown food from Victory Gardens!

 

If you still don’t think you have enough room for a garden, there is a good chance others in your area feel the same way. If so, check out Lisa’s post on Self Sufficient Homeacre! – How To Start a Community Garden

 

Logo for Mary's Heirloom Seeds

 

And don’t forget – one of the best places to get your seeds is Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. Visit her site and check out all of the great choices!

 

 

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

6 Comments

  1. I just love the photo with the little determined “Rosie”! Awesome way to start an encouraging post like this one. Yay for girl power!

    1. Author

      Thank you, Donna! That is actually a photo my daughter took of my granddaughter. We are teaching her at an early age!

  2. No matter how small you start – it’s still really hard!!! Everything unedible grows – the edible stuff, either eaten or not coming out at all… AGH!

    1. Author

      It is hard, but to me, well worth it. And as much as I hate weeding, I just keep telling myself that my chickens will appreciate all my hard work!! 🙂

  3. Gardening is such a wonderful thing to do and yes I agree it’s also great as an insurance policy. Plus there is just no comparing homegrown food to store-bought. These are great tips for making the most out of your garden. Growing what you eat is the big one, why waste time, money and space on something no one will eat. This year I am expanding on what herbs I grow since those are the things I have lacked most years. I also love experimentings with growing new things, trying them for a few years and seeing if it’s viable to grow up here. The one thing I need to work on is seed saving, it’s something I keep meaning to do but with such a short growing season I have always prioritized maximizing the harvest over seed saving.

    1. Author

      I feel the same way, Sarah. I, too, am still working on herbs and seed saving, but I love the fact that it is something I can do if anything gets bad around here. My mouth is already watering for some of my homegrown tomatoes and squash!

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