Growing a Victory Garden in 2020

Doing Your Part Amidst The Chaos

victory garden featured image

At one time, Americans were urged to start planting victory gardens in every single patch of soil available to them.

This did, in fact, produce approximately 40 percent of our fresh vegetables nationwide at the time.

Started in World War I

The first victory garden movement started during World War I and was calling on all Americans to start growing food wherever they could, including backyards, empty lots, rooftops, and even fire escapes.

This resulted in 3 million new gardens being planted in 1917 and more than 5.2 million in 1918, generating an estimated 1.45 million quarts of canned vegetables and fruits. In fact, according to President Woodrow Wilson, “Food will win the war.”

victory garden cucumber

Other Countries Joined In

In addition, other countries at the time joined in, including Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK. The theory was that nothing was more valuable than our own self-sufficiency. And, that can apply just as easily to today’s economy and the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Continued During World War II

War gardens became prominent again during World War II, when magazines and newspapers gave major coverage to the national gardening initiative. In 1943 Life Magazine published full-page images of gorgeous girls in shorts as they dug in the ground.

Even Eleanor Roosevelt joined in by planting her own war garden on the White House lawn that same year. At that time it was sending a clear political message regarding everybody’s patriotic duty to start their own garden.

Although it might have looked like a stunt, so many Americans took it to heart that, by 1944, it was estimated that 20 million community, home, and school gardeners were producing almost 40 percent (8 million tons) of the fresh vegetables for the entire country.victory garden dandelion

After the War

After the end of the war, grassy green lawns were again taking over American backyards. All of those empowering posters showing happy home gardeners and their war gardens were relegated to being relics of wartime scarcity. That is until March 2020, when panicking shoppers cleaned out stores and the basics became a scarcity.

Even popular television series advertised, “This show has more drama than the toilet paper aisle at the supermarket!” Then stockpiling T.P. and all other paper goods morphed into a fear of running out of food, which let’s face it, is a little bit more important than toilet paper.

Even folks who have zero gardening experience have started to search online for DIY videos on how to start their own fruit and vegetable gardens.

Small Things Count

So, what was planted in those original war gardens? Numerous different varieties of vegetables were grown back then, like beets, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, peas, squash, tomatoes, and turnips.

War gardens also brought previously unheard of veggies, such as kohlrabi and Swiss chard to American dinner tables due to the fact that they were so incredibly easy to grow.

And, the headlines in one 1919 National War Garden Commission pamphlet read “Small things count.”

victory garden heirloom tomato

2020 Food Supply Anxiety Reviving Those Historical Gardens

Now, amidst the current 2020 pandemic, that’s still an excellent slogan. In fact, the worldwide COVID-19 fight has been correlated to an actual war. Some people even refer to it as “World War C” and, because of it, gardens are starting to make a major comeback.

Today, the actual goals are slightly different, however, Americans’ interest in growing their own food at home still remains the same. So, let’s talk about how to plant a high-yielding garden in 2020.

Not Red or Blue, Just Green

Now, just like back then, gardening is an excellent positive morale-builder. In addition, it’s a purely bipartisan act. It’s not blue but just green. If you’ve been thinking about starting a vegetable garden but simply never had the time before, now is the time.

While you’re under stay-at-home orders and possibly having to live on less income, why not take advantage of the opportunity to plant your own garden? It really isn’t difficult at all and could be extremely rewarding.

After all, planting can be a refreshingly hopeful act while also giving you a much-needed break from the daily news. So, get your whole family involved and start digging!

Your Seasonal Supermarket

Your garden could become your seasonal supermarket while decreasing the number of trips to the supermarket and stretching your budget.

You can even start planning your family’s meals around the fruits and veggies that are ready for harvesting.

You’ll be feeding your family the absolute freshest nutritious food that’s picked and served at its peak, which is so much better than store-bought food.

victory garden harvest

Easy-to-Grow Crops

Modern-day victory gardens (just like back in WWI and WWII) consist of crops that are easy-to-grow, including seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. root crops, and some hardier crops that can be stored through the winter. Here’s an example:

  • Spring gardens: Carrots, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, and radishes
  • Summer gardens: Basil, beans (bush, lima, and pole), corn, cucumbers, eggplants, muskmelons, okra, peppers, pumpkins, squash (both summer and winter), tomatoes, and watermelons
  • Fall and winter gardens: Beets, carrots, and broccoli, as well as cabbage and cauliflower, lettuce, kohlrabi, parsley, parsnips, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips

A Perfect Solution

Although today, gardening may not be a civic duty like it was back in 1919, it’s being touted as the perfect solution to a number of current problems, including:

  1. Fear about dwindling food supplies
  2. Fear of public supermarkets
  3. Boredom from self-quarantining
  4. Feelings of hopelessness
  5. Fears about being able to feed our families
  6. Too much time on our hands

victory garden greenhouse

Fraught With Fear

The basic idea from the early 1900s resonates among all Americans as grocery store trips are becoming more and more fraught with the fear of virus exposure. In addition, shoppers are worrying about whether industrial agriculture is going to fail them during (and possibly even after) the pandemic.

The basic idea from the early 1900s resonates among all Americans as grocery store trips are becoming more and more fraught with the fear of virus exposure. In addition, shoppers are worrying about whether industrial agriculture is going to fail them during (and possibly even after) the pandemic.

Although American shoppers could expect to intermittently see some empty supermarket shelves because our nation’s food producer, distributor, and retailer networks have become stretched like never before, many industries are re-calibrating for the purpose of supplying consumers.

Their hope is to be able to start regularly keeping up with the nationwide surge in panic shopping fueled mainly by fear.

Retailers and food suppliers are now not just struggling to satisfy the overpowering demand for everything from oat milk to canned soup but they’re also battling the public’s perception that those scary grocery store scenes are a reflection of a fundamental breakdown.

This is also in spite of a statement from The National Chicken Council that there are abundant surplus chicken supplies in cold storage (more than 950 million pounds according to government data).

victory garden chard

Empty Shelves Prompt More Panic-Buying

The fear is still unmistakable though. And, the more empty shelves people are seeing, the more panic-buying arises out of it and the more some foods are simply out-of-stock. Meanwhile, the panic-buying is continuing to test the capacity of the national food system.

Recently, according to Nielsen data, rice sales have increased by 50 percent. Canned meat has gone up by 40 percent and sales of essentials like bottled water, beans, peanut butter, and pasta have been rising substantially.

Kroger has been advising suppliers that demand has been surging 30 percent across every category recently.

At both Costco and Walmart, the hot dog orders have increased by 300 percent, according to meat suppliers, prompting some hot dog plants to add shifts on Saturdays and Sundays shifts. And, the hot dog makers report that they only have a one-year supply of necessary spices, such as garlic.

According to retailers, the feeding frenzy initially started when customers couldn’t find hand sanitizers or even wipes because they were in short supply. That started the wave of panic-buying that keeps spreading to include bread, all kinds of canned goods, frozen foods, and milk.

It has become abundantly clear that our modern supply chain isn’t really equipped for dealing with the surge in buying in spite of all of its speed and efficiency.

Inventory Algorithms

Amazon has perfected algorithms that are capable of pinpointing the exact amount of inventory that a store or warehouse needs to keep on-hand for a typical week.

However, algorithms could never have predicted an extraordinary event like the current pandemic, which has leading to widespread out-of-stock situations involving hundreds of necessary household items.

And, the problem is that the hoarding isn’t subsiding. We’re only just now seeing the start of this type of behavior and panic-buying could be coming in waves along with the spikes in COVID-19 cases.

victory garden lettuce

People Are Turning to Gardens

Home gardeners started planting seeds and saplings on the first day of spring. And, smart nursery owners started rushing to get their Spring inventories posted on their websites so that shoppers could get contactless curbside pickup. Potting soil sold out by the bags of vegetable plants and seeds were moving really fast.

Experts say that consumers appear to be preparing for serious disruption in food supplies.

The victory garden model inspired many people because many things started seeming to be out of their control. Those garden programs may be more than a hundred years old, but the current parallels are pretty simple. Just like our ancestors said, “To free ourselves, we have to feed ourselves.”

As we start seeing cracks in the systems we’ve been relying on, we must rise to the moment.

So, whether you’re looking toward cutting back on your many trips to the supermarket, are fascinated by the idea of being able to grow your own food, or are simply trying to find a way of having fun with your family and enjoying the great outdoors, there’s a simple answer.

Just start growing a garden! Even if you don’t think you have the space you can grow an indoor vegetable garden.

It can not only help reduce your carbon footprint by ensuring your food is just about as local as it can be but it can fill your pantry and fridge with veggies that you know were grown with your well-being in mind—because you grew them yourself!

This is the epitome of the victory garden ideal. Grow to help your neighbor and your country.

Get Started Here With Some of These Heirloom Vegetable Seeds!

victory garden basket

When to Plant Your Victory Garden

It’s simply never too early for you to start planning your garden. However, the actual planting is dependent on the geographical area you live in. First, start by determining your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone and using that info as your guideline for knowing when the threat of frost is over and planting outdoors is safe.

In the meantime, you can start your seeds safely indoors. Generally, this is done four to eight weeks prior to the outdoor growing season in your area. Just be sure that you’re following the seed packet directions to the letter and then transplanting the seedlings to your garden when the weather turns warm.

Here’s how to grow your war garden by:

  1. Planning your plot, using graph paper for creating a rough plan
  2. Prepping your garden space by choosing a level, sunny, open area and then measuring and staking out the area
  3. Choosing Your Vegetables
  4. Planting your garden
  5. Watering it well
  6. Not forget to feed it
  7. Keeping the weeds at bay

Plant Options

You have two options when it comes to choosing the plants themselves. You can start by either picking starter plants or starting vegetables from seeds. Virtually all plants are easier to take care of when you start with strong starter plants. That way, most of the hard work has been done for you. This puts you several steps closer to harvesting your vegetables right from the get-go.

If you start your seedlings inside from seeds, remove them carefully from their indoor containers by gently loosening their outer roots. Then, use your trowel to dig a small hole outside in your garden, ensuring that the roots are fitting comfortably in the hole at a level that is lower than that of the surrounding soil.

On the other hand, tomatoes need to be planted a bit deeper, so that approximately 2/3 of their stems are buried. This is because they produce roots along the full length of their stems. More roots equal a stronger and sturdier plant.

After placing each plant inside its hole, start filling it in with soil, making sure that all of its roots are covered. Measure to ensure that there’s enough space between your plants according to the plant or seed packet tag.

You may find that it looks a little bit ridiculous at first with those tiny plants planted so far apart, however, when mid-summer arrives and they reach their full size, you’ll definitely be thankful that you followed those directions.

While planting your seedlings make sure to remember to feed your plants. You can find an easy way to make homemade plant food here.

victory garden seedlings

Watering Your Garden

The majority of gardens require approximately one inch of water per week (more if the weather’s really hot). This can be from rain, watering, or both. For measuring, use your rain gauge or even just a small container that’s see-through.

Your goal should be watering deeply every couple of days instead of just watering quickly daily. This is done for encouraging root growth. Your nest bet is simply letting common sense be the guide for proper watering.

Following a rainstorm, for example, you won’t need to water right away and that also goes for days when the sky above turns downpour gray.

Make Watering Easy With These Garden Irrigation Systems!

Wartime Victory Garden 2.0

Here are a few good steps for planning your garden:

  • Make a comprehensive list of everything your family likes to eat
  • Decide if you possess the necessary resources for freezing or canning your excess produce
  • Decide plants to grow from seeds or just to buy
  • Plan your garden space (i.e. containers, in-ground, or raised beds)
  • Make sure your location is in an area of sufficient sun
  • Purchase high-quality gardening mix
  • Follow the suggested planting dates
  • Start Composting

victory garden sunflower

Become Soldiers of the Soil

That’s what they called it back in wartime when everybody as encouraged to “sow the seeds of victory” via the planting of their own war gardens. OK, it’s true that growing your own victory garden may not be a one-and-done type of project.

However, the continued time that you spend hands-on is well worth it because of the many rewards as well as the continued security of being able to grow your own food. Yes, spending time growing your own garden can have you whipping up delicious and fresher meals in no time at all and they’ll be made from ingredients that you have grown yourself!

Learn more about all the wonderful foods you can make with your bounty by reading this article on pegan recipes.

Oats to Go With Your Home-Grown Fruit

Avotoasted.com recommends Be Still Farms Organic oats.

These organic oats are naturally gluten-free and perfect for making organic oatmeal to top with those beautiful plump juicy home-grown strawberries. These super-healthy oats are effortlessly delicious for enjoying every morning as a more nutritious and much less processed whole-grain addition to breakfast. You can also grind them for making a perfect mix for pancakes or waffles, making into bread, flatbreads, granola and nutrition bars, or even cookies.

You can also and use them as a substitute for rice in just about any dish you would like. And, they’re not just for food either. These healing oats can be utilized for cosmetic purposes, like baths, face masks, soaps, and scrubs. In addition, they’re all-natural, Certified USDA Organic, Vegan, Vegetarian, Non-GMO, and 100 percent whole grain.

They have absolutely no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, 0 grams of both sugar and sodium as well as no glyphosates.

So, start every day with plant-based, heart-healthy energy high complete with anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, avenanthramides, beta-glucan, and polyphenols with oats that are naturally low in saturated fats and cholesterol for staying energized and feeling comfortably full for hours.

They can also help by minimizing cravings and supporting your healthy digestive system. You can start right away benefiting from an ideal ratio of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids as well as five grams of dietary fiber and seven grams of protein per serving. Last but not least, these oats are a product of the USA and are sourced from the highest-quality ingredients that independent, family-owned businesses in North Carolina can produce.

All of these oats have been grown in the Midwest and the paper packaging is also recyclable and resealable for easy storage that is shelf-stable with no refrigeration needed.

These aren’t just for breakfast either! Check out our article on how to make oat milk here.

victory garden blackberry

Better Health

And, for better health while you’re planning and planting your victory garden, here’s one of the many products recommended by Avotoasted.com and sold on Amazon.com-

This Intellimune Intelligent Nutrients Super Oil Blend that is certified organic and contains black cumin and pumpkin is brought to you by Intelligent Nutrients. It’s like getting beauty on a spoon with this antioxidant-rich supplement that actually multi-tasks. How does it do that? Well, you can take it internally by adding to salads, sauces, smoothies, and everything in-between. And, you can also use it topically as a beauty boost for your skin and hair! It’s also cruelty-free, gluten-free, and made only with sustainable packaging.

Get Some Restful Sleep

After a long day of working in your new victory garden, get some restful sleep with this out-of-this-world duvet cover set recommended by Avotoasted.com and available at Amazon.com-

This amazing Ambesonne Constellation Duvet Cover Set has an Outer Space theme with an astronomy-themed galaxy all over it and is a decorative three-piece bedding Set complete with two pillow shams by Ambesonne. It’s available in sizes from twin to king and features constellations and other heavenly bodies in outer space to help you sleep peacefully and dream about those yummy fruits and veggies in your garden.

Interested in more articles about living a sustainable lifestyle? Check this post: Being Bohemian in 5 Easy Steps

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Written by Colleen

Beard lover | Theatre Geek | Writer | Loves to Laugh | Persistent Dreamer
I love style, fashion, and interior design. My goal is to bring you all the best things since avocado toast. From seemingly useless gadgets to the newest style of hat for your upcoming vacation, come to AvoToasted first for the latest trends.

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