Planting a Victory Garden
Back during the major World Wars, citizens were strongly encouraged to plant "Victory Gardens" - small vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted on private lands. These gardens not only reduced demand on the public food supply system, but also gave individuals a sense of empowerment. The gardens were were so popular that in 1944, over 20 million Americans were sowing their own seeds and reaping 40% of all the produce for the nation. Not a trivial amount!
I learned all about Victory Gardens through the Riot for Austerity, of which I am a member. One of the group's founding members, Sharon Astyk, has a great blog where she provides oodles and oodles of information on sustainable living, victory gardens, food storage, you name it. If it involves self-sufficiency, Sharon is on it!
Anyhow, although I am now a full-fledged (or at least fully-paid) member of my local CSA, Sharon's writings convinced me that it is still important to grow at least some of my own food. If, for no other reason, than to teach my kids how it's done.
Now, understand that I'm not a newbie at gardening. But I am a newbie to gardening on a patio or in flower beds. You see, all the while growing up we had our own gardens. They ranged in size from 1/4 acre to a couple of acres - depending on how many hours my Dad was putting in at the mill that particular planting season.
We girls were generally enlisted to help with the really fun stuff - like picking rocks out of the soil or hoeing up rows for planting. It was fun when we were little, but as we grew older that enthusiasm waned a bit. As teenagers, we would start out all gung-ho, then wimp out after an hour or so and go hide somewhere - usually with friends.
Whether it was good soil, the constant oversight and care from my Dad, or just divine intervention, most everything would grow and we would always end up with a great bounty of our own 100% organic 100-foot-mile-diet food. It was delicious plus five. Nothing beats standing in the warm, dark soil eating snowpeas right off the plant. And no grocery store tomato smells the same as one picked right off the vine in your own backyard. Of course, there's also nothing quite like a late September rotten-tomato fight with your sisters, but that's another story.
So a couple of weeks ago, I went and bought my (overpriced) organic seeds and peat pots and the kids and I planted beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, chives, oregano, sage, zucchini, and some other goodies. They have since blossomed into seedlings and will soon be replanted in various containers and raised flower beds. How very suburban!
The kids have THOROUGHLY enjoyed this process. They run into our bedroom each morning to check their plants' progress. Ethan can actually identify several of the plants ("look at the radishes mommy! They is SOOOOOOO big!") and even though he insists he is never going to eat any of the produce, this is still the closest he's ever been to touching an actual carrot.
I hope to supplement my CSA bounty this summer with whatever I don't accidentally kill off. This will reduce the pollution associated with transporting produce from miles away. This will also ensure that the food produced is 100% organic, with no pesticides or poly-fertilizers.
I am having so much f'ing fun with this I can't even tell you! The only thing that would make it better is if my Dad could come down for a visit to oversee my work! :-) HINT HINT Well, that and not having to pay for dirt. Who ever heard of that?!?!
Monday, March 31, 2008
Planting a Victory Garden