Pandemic Victory Gardens | A Quick How-to on Gardening in the COVID-19 Era

Victory gardens were widely encouraged and sometimes government-mandated during World War I and II to help supplement food supplies for families (large amounts of food were shipped to help support troops in foreign countries).  The War commission provided people with valuable literature/pamphlets/posters to educate theme about gardening (crop types pest/disease control, fertilizing, harvesting, food preservation and raising small livestock such as chickens for meat and eggs. Nearly every available parcel of land, both large and small, were turned into urban and rural mini farms filled with various fruit vegetables and herbs.  Not only did the gardens provide and abundance of home grown produce, it also encouraged unity and increased morale.

Coronavirus vaccines may be being distributed, but ongoing fears of the COVID-19 pandemic has made victory gardens popular again at a time when people are concerned about food shortagesin grocery stores and markets, as well as the threat of contracting the disease from other shoppers.

The good thing is, you don’t have to be a pro at gardening nor do you have to garden on a large scale.

Pre-planning – Take a look around your property to see where you want to place your home garden keeping in mind, most plants need optimal conditions to thrive. Be observant by watching the planned space throughout the day to make sure your proposed area receives adequate light exposure (typically from 6 to 8 hours). Your garden will benefit greatly from a nearby water source and basic gardening tools to start with such as a spade; garden fork; soaking hose; hoe; hand weeder; and a basket for moving around mulch or soil.

Garden Types/Supplies – There are many types of gardens, however most beginner gardeners start with easy-to-grow vegetables, herbs and annuals (to encourage pollinating insects) such as lettuce, beans, beets, radishes, carrots, cucumbers, peas, basil, dill, cilantro, parsley, thyme, sunflowers, zinnias, marigold, pansies, impatiens, snapdragons, cosmos, and blanket flowers.  Most plants of these plants can easily be grown from seeds by sowing them directly in the soil. Garden catalogs offer large assortments of either seeds or you can opt for established plants from a garden center to save time. Make sure you obtain seeds or plants from reliable sources if you purchase online. If you purchase plants from a garden center, make sure you buy healthy plants by checking the leaves and soil for pests are disease. Make sure you following the planting, fertilizing needs and growing instructions carefully on the plant tags.

Garden Resources – Find out what the planting zone is for your area.  Certain plants need to be grown in certain seasons depending on the weather. Also, another great source would be your local county extension office that can provide you with information about what varieties grow best in your area, growing guides, info about pests and diseases and help hot lines run by master gardeners. They also provide soil testing established from various parts of your garden for a nominal fee. The results show you what amendments are needed.

Two Most Popular Methods for Home Gardens:

Raised Beds – the benefits of this particular method are no weeding, excellent drainage and versatility of planting spacing. Soil in raised beds generally warms up soil earlier and which can extend the growing season. Raised beds are usually created from rot resistant wood; but are also made from logs, bricks, plastic, rocks and even cinder blocks. Most home improvement stores or garden supply companies have raised garden kits available for purchase (some assembly required). Once assembled, line the bottom with cardboard or newspapers (wet them) and add good quality raised bed soil (you can also make your own soil mixture (garden soil, compost, castings, peat moss, vermiculite and perlite).  However, do your research on various soil mix recipes and plant varieties you are going to grow before filling your beds.

Containers – the benefit of container gardening is plants can be grown in almost any container from clay pots, fabric grow bags to practical and inexpensive 3–5 gallon plastic buckets. Even common household items such as cans, pots and old furniture can be used as a planter if provided with proper drainage holes. The key to success container gardening is proper drainage, a good quality growing medium and choosing the correct sizes of the containers which best suit the plants you will be growing. For example, tomatoes, summer squash, peppers and cucumbers need much larger containers — at least 24 inches wide and deep enough to allow their vigorous root systems to grow and allow room for supports or cages if needed. Shallow-rooted vegetables such as lettuce and small herbs can be planted in smaller containers at least 10 inches wide.

The right growing medium is essential for container gardening. Edibles like herbs benefit from a well-draining, coarse and slightly sandy soil-less medium whereas fruit and vegetables thrive in well-draining, nutrient rich medium containing equal parts of quality garden soil, peat moss, perlite and builder’s sand (compost is optional). Watering is also an important factor because soil-less mixes tend to dry out quickly so frequent watering may be needed.

Remember, gardening can be a great way of bringing fresh produce to your dinner table and the added incentive is the joy of being outdoors and increasing morale for everyone. Happy Gardening!!!

About The Editors of Garden Variety

The Magazine-style Daily Lifestyle Blog of Gardening, Outdoor Spaces and Natural Living. https://gardenvarietynews.wordpress.com
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