Plant Your Coronavirus Victory Garden

Reader Contribution by Ilene White Freedman and House In The Woods Farm
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Plant your own Coronavirus Victory Garden. Now is the time to get busy, a time when many of us are home social distancing (if you are reading this in March-April 2020). And it’s springtime. Time to plant things! As farmers, this time of year always springs up with sprouting crops, fresh succulent greens, and a full crop of hope for the season ahead. Every year we are motivated by big plans and goals, high aspirations and good faith that the seeds we sow will grow into nourishing food for our family and community. During the pandemic of COVID-19 in particular, we could all use a bit of good faith and hope for the season ahead.

Victory gardens were popular during both World Wars in the United States. In response to promotional posters, “3 million new garden plots were planted in 1917 and more than 5.2 million were cultivated in 1918” and up to 20 million victory gardens were planted between 1942-44. ( 20 million victory gardens! Can you imagine all those gardens, all that potential and growth–in yards, containers, schoolyards, the company green space? The promotional effort was so popular they turned to educating people on how to preserve their harvests by canning and drying crops. Numbers like that strengthened local food security, garden by garden.

Victory gardens raise morale, as well as crops. I feel like we could use some morale raising during COVID-19. There is so much uncertainty. We don’t know if there will be food shortages or economic changes that would impact food purchasing power. Growing a garden could nurture confidence and a greater sense of food security, as well as a source of healthy fresh food. In the immediate moment, it provides a productive therapeutic project, a focus, fresh air and a meditative activity. Gardening can be a solitary and healing project, perfect for social distancing. It is a welcome distraction from the news and social media. Gardening therapy is real. Let the zen of the garden nurture you as you grow your own food. states that in the victory gardens of the 1900’s, “some of the most popular produce grown included beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, tomatoes, turnips, squash and Swiss chard.” I’d be happy with the same lot in my harvest basket, now in 2020. We grow all these crops and more at our farm in Maryland. I’m here to help home gardeners grow some of their own food in their own gardens too. Let’s get started! 

If you are starting a garden for the first time, you’ll need to evaluate your space and observe sun patterns to select your garden spot. There is an overwhelming amount of resources out there to help you. Find one you like and go for it! There are many posts on Mother Earth News  to help you get started. An excellent first garden resource is Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. 

Watch for follow up posts with more details on how to set up a garden space and what to grow in your new garden. Part two, Nine First Crops for your Coronavirus Victory Garden & part three, First Steps.

Ilene White Freedman operatesHouse in the Woods Farmorganic CSA farm with her husband, Phil, in Frederick, Maryland. The Freedmans are 2013 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Homesteaders of the Year. Ilene blogs about making things from scratch, putting up the harvest, gardening and farm life on the farm’sFacebookPage. For more about House in the Woods Farm, go to theHouse in the Woods website, and read all of Ilene’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

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