When the Victory Garden Manual was first written in 1943, it was pretty easy to come up with reasons to grow your own vegetables. It was wartime and food was scarce. The food that was available might not have been the freshest or healthiest. Statistics say that in 1943, nearly 40% of all fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S. were grown in-home and community victory gardens. That’s impressive!
Now, as National Garden Bureau celebrates its 100th anniversary (1920-2020), it seems timely to reintroduce the concept of victory gardening with quick and easy steps to plan and grow your own vegetable garden.
We are calling it: Victory Garden 2.0!
All credit goes to the author of this book, James H. Burdett. Mr. Burdett founded the National Garden Bureau in 1920 as a way to enlist horticultural writers and broadcasters in the noble effort of mass education to create a population of gardeners. In the process, he improved the lives of citizens both in wartime and in times of peace.
Easy steps for a successful Victory Garden 2.0…
(with recommendations from the 1943 Victory Garden Manual by James Burdett, adapted for today’s world.)
1. Know your growing zone!
– Just enter your zip code here to find your zone.
2. Make a list of the items your family enjoys eating.
– Determine how much produce your family can reasonably consume during key harvest times. How much zucchini will your family really need? Should you plant 2 plants or 4 plants?
– Decide if you have the resources to freeze or can excess produce (if so, then you can grow more!). NGB member Hoss Tools gives an idea on how to spread out the harvest.
– From this list, start to research specific varieties. Look to AAS Winners for varieties that have been trialed for garden performance meaning you will be a more successful gardener.
3. Decide which of these plants you will grow from seed or buy as transplants.
– Now add “Days to harvest” to your list from step 2. These can be found on labels and seed packets. The longer the days to harvest, the longer the growing season you will need. Some vegetables needed to be started indoors or purchased as a transplant so you have enough time for harvesting before your first frost in the fall.
– Of your list of favorites, determine which crops can be grown early then replaced with summer crops then replaced again with fall crops. For example, planting peas in the spring, then tomatoes in the summer and back to peas for the fall.
4. Plan your garden space (in-ground, raised beds, containers) accordingly.
– Make certain the location is in an area that gets plenty of sun for the crops you choose.
– NGB member Gardener’s Supply has an excellent online planning tool (that was not available to victory gardeners back in 1943!).
6. Follow suggested sowing and planting dates.
– To find the dates easily, use this tool from NGB member Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
– In many areas, March is the perfect time for either starting seeds indoors or out.
– You will need to know the date of the last frost in your area so you will know when it is safe to plant your seeds and starter plants outside. Check for your last frost day with this handy tool from NGB member Bonnie Plants.
7. Want to get your garden started with starter plants?
– Find many varieties available from your local garden retailer or online source.
8. Start Composting
– As the gardening season goes on, you can use compost to top-dress your gardens.
9. Don’t forget to plan for pollinator-friendly flowers
– This will ensure your vegetables are properly pollinated!