In the days of World War One and World War Two, food shortages were a big problem. With a majority of the food grown on American farms being sent to the front, the rest was rationed. A family was only allowed so much of things like meat, sugar, flour, and other staples a month or a week. To supplement these rations, the government, the USDA, and civil groups encouraged everyone to plant Victory Gardens.
A Victory Garden was an idea for Americans to provide needed produce for themselves and their neighbors. Guidebooks were provided to community leaders and householders to make the best of what land they had to grow healthy vegetables and fruits to make their rations stretch further. Victory Gardens were also a way for those on the homefront to fight the helplessness they felt seeing their loved ones going off to fight a war so far away and to learn valuable life skills in the process.
Children and teens were especially encouraged to join in the effort. Educators and other community leaders were concerned with the fact that so many people lack and understanding of how to produce their own food and how nutrition worked, so they took it upon themselves to fix the problem.
Common vegetables like snap beans, tomatoes, cabbage, onions, spinach, and carrots were encouraged for their versatility, vitamin content, and ease of growth. Not to mention, these vegetables can be grown in a small space, so that even people in apartments in the cities could grow even a little. In fact, in the bigger cities like New York, Victory Garden Committees were formed to turn vacant lots into miniature farms to feed the residents and the people who worked in the factories. People could rent a space and were responsible to maintain the space and their own produce. In some places, the gardens were owned by companies, who allowed people who worked there to grow food, and in return, they signed contracts to follow good husbandry practice and share with others who had less.
In schools, children were enlisted to grow food for the school, and older teens could volunteer to work on farms. Educators pointed out that children were more likely to eat what they had a hand in growing themselves. Then, as now, kids were reluctant to eat their veggies :)
Now, what does this have to do with today? Well, as the coronavirus crisis drags on, it's clear that we're again at war; except our enemy doesn't have a face. It's an invisible enemy, but fortunately, the same elements that made the Victory Gardens a success are still our allies: fresh air, vitamins, and the sun! If you're worried about having enough to eat in the days of Corona, you can plant a new Victory Garden to provide for yourself and your neighbors and learn important skills along the way.
If you want to learn more about Victory Gardening, check out these wonderful period books:
Victory Garden Handbook from the Pennsylvania Council of Defense
Victory Garden Leader's Handbook from the USDA.
What if I told you you could grow new vegetables from cuttings from vegetables from the grocery store? That’s right, it’s true! There are multiple common vegetables you can grow just from cuttings! All you need are some cuttings, a bowl of water and a sunny window. Here are my top five favorites.
You can take unused lettuce leaves and place them in a little bit of water- just enough to cover the base of the leaf. Mist them every few days, and transplant them to the soil when they’ve grown roots.
Simply cut the base of the celery head off, and put it in a little bit of water and wait. Once roots grow, transfer it to the soil.
Green onions can be re-grown by placing the roots in some water and waiting until they start to grow. You can also plant onion bulbs directly into the soil.
Place some leaves in a bowl of water and wait for roots to form. Easy as pie!
And last, but not least, potatoes! Simply wait for your potatoes to grow eyes and bury them deep in the soil.
**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.