I have always been drawn to the World War II era: the music, the style, the patriotism, and especially the united endeavor to maintain our home front while supporting the men and women fighting the Nazis overseas. Our entire country was devoted to encouraging each other and making it work the best we could here at home. Not only did women jump in to fill jobs the men had to leave behind to deploy, but they also continued to tend their households. During WWII, the government set rations on certain grocery items into place, so a wiser effort than ever before was made with our nation’s resources, starting right at home. One way this effort was supported was the planting of Victory Gardens. Victory Gardens, even by today’s definition, are gardens planted during a time of war to increase food and herb production; during World War II, approximately 20 million Americans jumped on board with this, utilizing any space they could find, including rooftops, to grow their own food items. According to livinghistoryfarm.org, the result of this gathered effort was more than 20 million planted Victory Gardens that yielded 9-10 million tons of harvested fruits and vegetables in only a couple of years.
I never had a green thumb; I had a black thumb. Like, I’d so much as look in the general direction of a plant, and it’d just go ahead and wilt out of fear. But this past summer, I decided to create a Victory Garden for my daughter and I to work on together, and to be able to teach her the value of growing her own food. My husband was home and with some wood, screws, weed barrier, and potting soil, built us an above-ground garden bed. It wasn’t expensive, and took him hardly any time. If he had not been home, I would’ve roped a friend into doing it with me (AKA bribed with wine and cookies) and made a fun Moms’ Project out of it.
It was so much fun to go to the hardware store and pick out seed packets with my daughter. She gravitated toward the flower seeds, but quickly boarded the vegetable train. The best part of this is you get tons of seeds that you don’t use all at once–for cheap. #thegiftthatkeepsongiving
My friend, Beth, has the greenest thumbs of all green thumbs. She can make black, dead plants come back to life. This is also a woman who I can describe what some new holes in a leaf of my Snap Pea vine look like and she can accurately tell me what kind of insect has been munching on it. Is that Plant Whisperer level or what? So needless to say, she’s been my Life Line on this ‘Who Wants to Be a Gardener?’ game I’m playing with myself. She advised me on how deep to make it and encouraged me to read about Companion Planting. There are some vegetable plants that are friends and some that are enemies and some that are frienemies. Yeah. It’s a thing. But I didn’t know this, so I quickly learned. Below is a picture of her Oregon garden, for inspiration……… or some shock-and-awe bugged-out eyeballing…………………
k, maybe that was just me… someone pass the cookie dough, please…..
Here is a diagram to start a garden with Companion Planting in mind:
If you’re looking for something fun and ongoing to do with your kids and you don’t already grow, I encourage you to try it! It’ll turn into one of your favorite Saturday afternoon memories. Even if it’s growing something in a shoebox to start out! Different seasons will allow you to try different seeds, so you can start any time you want. Not only is it an enjoyable experience for the whole family, it allows kids to participate in some botany right in their own home, see where food comes from, and despite stressors of school or separations going on around them, experience positive change over time by watching their gardens grow. It will bond you as a family, and teach the value of hard work and patience with a positive end result: literally being able to eat the fruit of your labor. Um, yes please! Happy Growing!
BUILD-YOUR-OWN VICTORY GARDEN SUPPLIES:
(sized 6’ x 3’)
9 – 2×4 pressure-treated Wooden Planks
1 – 8’ 4×4 Wooden Plank, cut into 2’ Sections courtesy of the Hardware Store
9 – 3 yard Bags of Raised Bed Potting Soil
1 – Roll of Weed Barrier
Drill and Screws
**And if you have animals, you may want to consider:
6 – 2’ Chicken Wire Posts
18’ of Chicken Wire
Skip all the “grunt” work and get this Raised Garden Bed Set!