As the world continues to navigate challenging times, more and more people are turning to gardening—and for good reason. Not only does gardening provide you with fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs in your own backyard, reducing the number of trips to the grocery store, but it also provides a sense of community, uniting people through this common interest.
What is a Victory Garden?
During the First and Second World Wars, the government encouraged people to start gardens in their backyards and public parks for reasons similar to why more and more people are interested in gardening this year. During war times, so-called victory gardens supplemented food rations and boosted morale. Pamphlets with how-to's and suggested vegetables were handed out, posters in support of victory gardens were displayed, and the message of the importance — and somewhat simplicity — of gardening was shared. Even people who had never gardened before were encouraged to do so, and in just a few short weeks after planting, they had plenty of food to provide for their family.
How to Plant a Victory Garden in 2020
Though we may not be going through a world war, we are going through a major world event that is encouraging us to re-evaluate how we live. We’ve always been fans of gardening, but it seems more people are now realizing just how useful it is. Here are some tips to get you started on your own victory garden.
Make a list of what your family likes to eat. Before you start planting, figure out what to plant. Look through your list, and you’ll soon realize just how much you can grow right here in Bettendorf. Also, determine roughly how much of each type of vegetable, fruit, and herb you’ll go through. If you have room in the freezer or pantry, then you can plant more of what you think you’ll eat fresh since you can freeze and can some of your harvest.
Get the whole family involved. Assign a spot in the garden for each family member to grow and care for their favorite veggie—and make it fun! Have a friendly competition of who can grow the tallest plant, and invite even your little ones to try their hand at gardening. Try some kid-friendly gardening activities like creating a mulch “sandbox” where they can dig freely (and not dig up any prized plants). Pick a sunny spot, and add nutrients to the soil. In general, vegetable gardens require lots of sun, though some plants like peas, carrots, potatoes, and lettuce do well in partial sun or partial shade. Once you determine where you’ll be planting your victory garden, add fertilizer, manure, or compost to the soil to stimulate growth.
Maximize the space you have. It doesn’t matter if you have a big or small yard—you can still have a successful and productive victory garden. Plant veggies, fruit, and herbs on your balcony, on a windowsill, or in a hanging basket. You can also incorporate edible plants into your landscape design, placing plants that grow well in partial shade, like leaf lettuce, near taller plants.
Plant a variety of plants. The final spring frost in Bettendorf occurs mid-May, so in a few weeks you can plant seeds or transplant the seedlings you started indoors. In your victory garden, plant a mix of fast-growing and slow-growing crops, plus plant in a staggered schedule. This way, you’ll always have fresh produce to harvest. And don’t forget to plant flowers, which not only look beautiful but also attract pollinators to your yard, leading to more successful crops.
Let’s bring the world together, one garden at a time. Tell your neighbors about your victory garden plans, and maybe they’ll be inspired to start one too!