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The Victory Garden

September 30 2009

Budding up behind houses and on rooftops across the country is a blast from the past called the victory garden. 

During WWII, victory gardens were promoted by the U.S. government to save fuel and other transportation costs so more supplies were available for the troops. Patriotic citizens were encouraged to live on locally-produced food.

Homeowners planted fruits and vegetables in their ‘victory gardens’ to feed their families and to exchange surpluses with neighbors.  The effort was successful and many people remember with nostalgia the camaraderie of sharing in a common goal.

Today, many homeowners feel there is another war to be won – against high cost, lower quality foods — and they’re reviving the victory garden concept with a few modern twists. 

So what’s driving the spade for victory gardens today?

More earth-friendly

According to revivevictorygarden.com, fresh produce travels 1500 miles from harvest to your local grocery, burning gas and energy along the way. Carbon footprint-conscious people are concerned with the emissions and other costs required to transport food great distances. 

Better tasting, fresher produce

Gardeners like the fresh taste of garden-grown produce, which can be picked at its ripest, and as needed. 

Going green (wallets)

Some who have never gardened before are using their green thumbs to put more green in their wallets.

Let’s say you want to grow tomatoes:

  • Average tomato plant yield 35-40 pounds
  • $4 per plant from your local nursery
  • $4 cage which can be used and reused
  • $5 worth of quality planting soil (you’ll get about 40 lbs of dirt at this price)

With a little time and TLC your tomatoes cost you only $14. Compare that at an average cost of 70 cents per pound from your grocery store where 35 pounds of tomatoes will cost you almost $25!

How to start your own victory garden

A victory garden can be what you want it to be.

Many urban gardeners don’t have the luxury of having an acre to plant, but you can start small with an herb garden on your windowsill. It’s a cheap and easy alternative and it gives a pleasant aroma to your apartment or condo. Just make sure that you can provide a sill with southern or eastern exposure so that your plants get at least 4 hours a day of sunlight and that your chosen location is free from any drafts.

Hydroponics is another way to try indoor gardening, but beware that lighting set-ups, electricity, and chemical nutrients can be expensive. However, the taste of water-grown lettuce is well worth the cost.

For amateur gardeners,  it’s easier and more rewarding to go with produce that always produces a crop and usually only takes a couple of months from sowing to harvest; these include herbs, bush beans, lettuce, spinach and tomatoes.

Check with your local nursery for seeds and bulbs, but for the busy gardener, gurneys.com has an extensive selection of seeds that you can have delivered to your mailbox. Most bags of seed come with care, best growing conditions, and harvesting instructions.

If you don’t have any land of your home, but your green thumb’s itching, you can garden in a co-op, or public garden. You can start your own co-op in a friend’s backyard or a local community center.

Most major cities have at least one co-op where you can rent space. Also there will usually be more experienced gardeners there to help you if you have any questions. You might want to check with your local co-op to see what the rates are in your area so that you can get started.

For more information on co-ops or vegetable trading, check out veggietrader.com.