In My Backyard
How to practice responsible Land Management no matter the characteristics of your property.
By Nick Machinski
Part 6: Victory Gardens
This installment was supposed to be about sharing my goals with all of you and explaining how I came to those goals. Well a lot has changed since then. With daycare closed, I’m now home watching my one year old son, while my wife continues her work in our, heavily taxed, healthcare system. This leaves me just a few hours a day to dedicate to my job. However, I thought it especially important to put out this article, not about my goals, but about Victory Gardens.
Some of you may know about Victory Gardens. It was a World War II effort by not only America, but by countries on both sides of the war, to decrease the reliance on national food rations and increase morale. I personally remember my first encounter with Victory Gardens by watching the incredible Roger Swain dispel his wisdom on PBS’s The Victory Garden, which to my dismay was cancelled in 2010 (though Roger had stopped hosting in 2002). Now, I don’t remember much of The Victory Garden, except for the host, theme song and PBS, but that is because I was only a child and, for whatever reason, my parents left the TV on PBS at odd hours in the morning.
What I do remember growing up, and what remains true to this day, is that my parents always had a garden. Their garden is a decent size and yields enough that they often find themselves canning tomatoes, peppers, pickles, or making zucchini bread, among other things. The garden has always been quite productive and my parents have often found themselves giving away what they can’t use (or can) for themselves.
Now, I’ve never considered my parent’s garden a Victory Garden. Even when The Victory Garden first aired (1979), World War II was decades ago (though the original host, James Underwood Crocket, had served in the Pacific theater and was a devoted gardener himself). And even though the United States seems to have been in a war (official or not) for nearly my entire life, vegetable gardens have rarely been called Victory Gardens.
But this is what we may need in our current situation. Nothing has gone untouched in the recent pandemic and this includes our food system. Nobody knows what impact this will have on farms, farm workers or supply chains. From what I have gathered from the remote meetings I’ve sat on, farmers are not expecting business as usual this growing season. How will produce be packed? Can workers work? How will food be delivered? All of these questions, and more, have been issues local farmers have faced prior to COVID-19, but this virus has put unforseen pressures and uncertainty on once basic questions. In short, the longer the pandemic lasts, the greater the impact it will have on the industry.
In order to shore up your own personal food supply (not to mention lessen the trips to the grocery store) I encourage you to plant your own Victory Garden this year. Even if you don’t have the yard space or only have enough room for a plant in a container. A single tomato plant can produce enough for you to share with a neighbor (after proper sanitation of course). A few more plants and you can, can some extra for later. I even encourage you to plant more than you would normally need, as I plan on doing.
I intended to create a container garden this year and bought a few more than I originally planned, a few weeks before things got crazy. I started some seeds just a few weeks ago and I plan on planting far more than I would normally need. These extra plants aren’t necessarily to plant for myself, but to give away if I’m able to. The stay in place order was issued well before many were able to get to garden centers for supplies or seeds. I figure there are many that won’t be able to plant anything this season. Hopefully, by planting a little extra we can give everyone a little Victory Garden, if anything, to give a little boost to morale.