Should You Be Planning a Victory Garden?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Victory Gardens were a popular thing back in the early 1940s. Some referred to them as 'war gardens' while others called them 'food gardens for defense'. In 1943 due to the rationing of canned goods for families, these gardens produced up to 41 percent of all the vegetable produce consumed across the nation.

Several years ago, churches in my area started victory-type gardens to provide fresh produce to food pantries. Not only did this provide a healthier option for folks that were in need of food compared to high sodium canned vegetables, it also renewed an interest in backyard gardening in our suburban area.

Today victory-type gardens are becoming popular once again but with a different goal. Today, self-reliance has become a motivating factor behind home gardening. When you grow your own food you increase the ability to control how it is grown, what you pay and how much will be available. With the hint of spring in the air, now is the time to begin garden planning, planting designs and preparation. Here are some simple ideas to help you plan a victory-type garden for your family.

Pick Your Space - There are a variety of steps necessary when beginning to plan a garden but none as important as deciding where to plant. If you have an available sunny patch in your back yard, you have the perfect spot to start your edible victory-type garden. If you don't, you can still have a garden by using window boxes, rooftop containers, or hanging pots.

Decide What to Grow - Some vegetables are easier to grow than others are just as your family prefers one type to another. Finding a way to merge the easiest vegetables to grow with those that are your families favorites is the best way to find victory with your garden. As you begin planning, look back over your weekly menus or favorite recipes to find out if green beans or carrots would make more sense or if bell peppers are of greater need compared to radishes. By planting easy to grow vegetables that your family likes and will eat will allow your results to be worth the efforts of your labor.

Think Outside the Garden Patch - If traditional gardening isn't for you, perhaps your yard is like mine and it could use some additional landscaping instead. Edible landscaping is an easy new approach to victory-type gardening that adds beauty as well as functionality to your landscape. If you are in need of some ground covering, consider low bush blueberries, Alpine strawberries, creeping thyme, or chamomile. Do you need some new trees? Depending on what part of the country you live in, you might consider an apple, pear, and olive or English walnut tree. If flowers are what you have in mind, consider edible flowers such as chives, clover or rosemary. A variety of berries such as blackberries, bush cherries, and high bush blueberries help provide privacy plantings if you are looking for something more hedge like.

The Bottom Line

As you begin to think about possible victory-type garden planting you might do this year, here are the key things to keep in mind.
  1. Review some gardening resources to help you decide what will work best for you.
  2. Think about your finances and the potential benefits of gardening as you try to stretch your food dollar.
  3. Decide if including edible options in your landscaping plan could be a way to make your plants work for your body as well as for your view.
  4. If you are unsure if gardening is for you, consider if working with a neighbor or members of your extended family to share the process and responsibility as well as the products produced will work instead.
Have you ever had a garden? Share why you would OR would not give gardening a try.

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Last year I had a few container tomato plants, tried cucumbers (didn't work and will try again this year). I really like the idea of having a garden- I just don't have the room for a large one! ((Wish I did)) Report
I enjoy gardening, yet I am not a diligent gardener. The wild critters here seem to get to some of my favorite foods before I get a chance. Still, there is still a great pleasure in watching something grow...esp when I planted it-whether it is a plant or a seed! Hmmmmm. Report
My family always puts out a garden and I love having those vegetables and we always have plenty to put up and enjoy throughtout the winter. Its great having homegrown produce in those cold dark days of winter. Report
I have a huge garden and love it!!! It's my therapy in the summer! Report
I love to have a garden every year as the food tastes so much better and you know what you are eating! Every spring my grandson and I start our own seedlings so we can plant them together. He loves to come and help me garden ( Logan eating them fresh while we are working) after school. Report
I had a garden when I was 12 years old and it turned out pretty good. I had corn, watermelons, honeydew melons, tomatoes and cucumbers (limited space in back of the garage)
I'd LOVE to have a garden now. With the prices of produce so high and the amount of veggies I use it's "the smart thing to do". I'm also a little, not highly, concerned about pesticides and fertilizers that are used to make bigger, shinier produce and I can control what I use if I had my own garden.
We're getting ready to move to KY and plan on buying a farm so I can have a horse ---- it'll be ideal to have a veggie garden! Report
My husband loves to garden so every year he plants a vegetable garden and I get to reap the benefits. Among his harvest are tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, beans, and many other varieties of vegetables. I stay away from the garden and let him do his magic so that by mid summer thru ealry fall I have lots of veggies to cook. I'm especially happy now that he started to incorporate herbs into his garden - there is nothing better then fresh basil from the garden. Report
I started a garden last year after being plagued with a black thumb my whole life. I was determined though. I had some success but more than anything else, I learned a lot that will help me have a much better garden this year! Report
I love gardening! It's good exercise, you have something to show for all your hard work (Hopefully!), and tending to it (Pulling weeds, etc) is kind of meditative. It always helps me think things through and refreshes my mind. Also, it's just fun watching what YOU planted grow and mature. It gives a sense of accomplishment. Also, preparing and eating foods you've grown yourself makes a meal kind of special in a way.

Basically, I think everyone should garden, even if it's just a container or two in a window. =P

Oh, here in Wisconsin, where there's still snow on the ground, the Amaryllises I have in my window are blooming. Whoo hoo! Report
Last year here in Western WA state, we were fortunate to have a very warm dry summer-unusual for us! It was also our first year of rural living and we planted 8 of 12 of our (existing) raised beds. Our results were spectacular! Tomatos, potatoes, herbs, corn, carrots, lettuce, egg plant, peppers and LOTS of zucchini! We can't wait to see what happens this year! It is so healthy and tastes nothing like supermarket produce. Even our veggie disliking (grown-up) son has become a convert. Vegetable gardening is such a great way to introduce kids to a healthy lifestyle :) Report
My husband puts a garden out every year. We enjoy the fresh vegetables. The granddaughters likes the tomatoes and cucumbers best. There is nothing like fresh veggies from your own garden. Report
I grew up with Victory Gardens in England in the 40's ( Rationing ended in 1952 when Elizabeth II was crowned. Many years later, after I had come to the States, I was Teacher-Director of a small Head Start Program. My husband was wonderfully supportive and we planted a large garden to feed the children and their families. It was not only great fun for me, but educational for the children - Any Excess I froze and used through the winter. Now I am a little insecure on my feet and last year the man that was going to rototil didn't. This year I have a different worker, and I hope it will work - After all my mother, after 2 knee replacements, continued gardening, lying on her belly, throwing the weeds into a wheelbarrow, pulling herself up on the barrow, and disposing of them. As my mother's daughter, I can do no less. Wish me luck folks! Report
We did a garden last year. I was able to can our tomatoes and put green beans and zucchini in the freezer. I love being able to pull our own produce off our shelves and out of the freezer - no preservatives! I hope we have the same success with this year's garden as last. Our neighbors would stop by and compliment us on how good our garden looked. We put rabbit fence about our garden and didn't have any problems with animals. Well, except for the squash bugs. Anyone know how to rid a garden of squash bugs? Report
The comment about "human hair" is right , animals don't like the smell of human, another thing is to plant above ground anything that produces above ground [cucumber, tomatoes . etc] on the "RISE OF THE MOON"
[before the full moon]
then carrots,turnips, etc on the "DOWN SIDE OF THE MOON"
I always did this learned this from my grand parents
may your efforts succeed
" Report
Last year we had a container garden. We grew Jalapenos, Roma tomatos and three colors of bell peppers. The jalapeno plant is still growing in my DH's garage.
This year we will try different tomatoes and we will try summer and zuccini squash.
The jalapenos were the hotest we ever tasted. We had a lot of fun with our little garden. Report
Already started my victory garden! Report
We have been doing a garden for yrs. My grandma always had a huge garden abt 1/2 a acre that she carried for. She always canned all her own veggies back when they even canned meat..

I am more into I freeze I can somethings. But I love the ease of putting it in the freezer for use latter. I am just now getting to the end of last years garden in the freezer already planning this years garden.. Report
This years garden is going to be even bigger then last years. It was a lot of work but it was so rewarding,
We are considering a raised bed garden this year. We have been feeding quite a few deer at the birdfeeder, so I don't know how a garden is going to go. We may do a lot of sharing.... Report
I love gardening! It took a few years to get the "right" mix. The key is not too plant too many of one thing or you end up wasting produce if you can't keep up with it. I enjoyed the fresh produce and also enjoyed sharing with my neighbors who did not have the time to tend to a garden. Report
I can't wait for the spring temps to finally stick around so I can get outside working in my flower beds and preparing our small family garden. We inherited a tiller from my father in-law and it makes a big difference in preparing the garden beds each year. Right now I am trying to figure out what vegetables to grow this year. I get both my husband and son into the planning but I mainly do all the prep. work since I don't mind the outside yard work and it pays off in exercise and healthy eating. My son since he could walk helps me harvest each day during the summer months. We were given some old stock blueberry bushes last summer and I am hoping for a good crop from them. Too bad I eat them as fast as we pick them. I am thinking of adding some different variety of raspberries and blackberries to that part of the garden for fresh fruits. Things that work well in the coastal carolina area for home gardening we've found are: roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, cucumbers, collards, and hot peppers (you name it we've tried for my husband). I cannot get a handle of planting beans, broccoli, or cauliflower. Anyone who has some advise on those let me know since I really would like a nice crop of those to add to our famiy menu. Report
Since we do not have a lot of land or time, we garden in containers. In the spring we enjoy fresh lettuce and celantro. We also grow grape tomatoes, zukes, cukes, peppers as well as, rosemary, mint, parsley and basil. Report
We are still enjoying the "fruits" of our labors from last year's vegetable garden: we froze the overabundance of green peppers which I cut in various ways - strips, small diced, large diced, as well as roma tomatoes for spaghetti sauce. I grated zucchini and froze that in 2 cup portions for our favorite zucchini bread. Would like to try some new crops this year - already scouting out the seed catalogs...Spring will be here soon, won't it? Report
i have had a garden for a couple years now.
and i have had success with a couple of garden
veggies, and some i have not had success with.
one of the one of then i baught in plant form it was a jalopeno
plant and i grew jalopeneos for my husband and he loved them.
the tomatoes i grew last year were good. i don't know what i am going to plant this year. the lettuce i planted from seed last year did not do so well. Report
I began gardening at a very young ago due to living on a farm. The vegetable garden was an essential part of farm life, as was the fall harvest of that garden. Freezers were not common so most foods were canned, dried or stored in the root cellar. I have carried that habit forward and have had a garden of some sort or another wherever I have lived. I have had gardens in pots on balconies, small patios, and larger "real" gardens. I even rented a lot for a few summers from the local municipality. I have grown cucumbers climbing on a trellis, and on a fence; tomatoes in pots, lettuce in amongst geraniums, etc. Your imagination is your limitation. The secret - know your location, i.e. how much sun, and wind your vegies will be exposed to and then plant accordingly. Coffe grinds and tea leaves will work well as "compost" - just add them to the pot! Report
I would like to plant a garden, but I have to get rid of some stuff first. When I planted a garden two years ago, I didn't pay too much attention to it, and it suffered as a result. (duh!) Anyway, my plan is to get rid of things in my house and garage that are cluttering my life, then I will be able to have the time to focus on growing food. Report
Newly retired, and now in a different house with some sun and no rabbits....I will put in a small garden this year. I haven't had a real garden since I was a child and always enjoyed it, so I am really looking forward to this new adventure. I am not, however, looking forward to digging up a small patch of grass. A lot of hard work, but for a small area, seems unnecessary to rent a rototiller. Report
Love to garden! And am quite good at it! I have two plots of about 12 X 8 each and in those I have raspberries (red and gold) . They are the one permanent thing. Oh, and gooseberries. Last year in the ground I had corn, carrots, potatoes, peas, beets, radishes and (purple)green beans. In pots I could move around to get the best sun I had 4 kinds of tomatoes, 6 types of peppers, zucchini, summer squash, lemon cucumber and a melon (that didn't grow). I also had chives, rosemary, basil, oregano, lemon basil and sage. Yes, lol, I love to grow! Report
I used to garden, but moving to an apartment without a balcony put paid to that. Fast forward 30 some years, and now I have trouble picking a penny up off the floor, never mind bend over to hoe or weed without incredible pain. I can't kneel AT ALL so I would have to sit on the ground, but then I can't get back up without someone around to lift me up!
Good luck to all who choose to do this. Report
Thank you for this information : ) I am determined to make a go again after 2 years letting the raised beds go. I built a very rudimentary trellis for sugar snap peas a few years ago and loved them! The only thing stopping me is the cost to improve the soil. . . as soon as I have enough funds, I will get planting. Report
I've been planting a garden each year since I moved to Maine over 30 years ago--it has evolved over time and location to mostly raised beds (you can plant very intensely in them), and no longer grow corn (heavy feeder and attracts deer and raccoons). I now start apx 100 varieties of tomatoes (mostly Heirlooms and about 2 dozen types of peppers. Garlic gets re-planted in the Fall and I can't wait to get to pulling tiny weeds and watching things grow daily! The advise about local Extension Offices is some of the best I can offer--they are tied into State Universities and have all sorts of paid and volunteers that give talks and classes for little or low cost. A lot of schools are now helping students get more connected to their food--you have have one in your area that could use some help! Report
Do not garden. I am allergic to bees and other stinging things so I'll leave the gardening to other people. Report
Planting a garden every Spring is something I always look forward to -- there is nothing better I think than fresh peas, green beans, tomatoes... from your very own backyard Report
Hubby bought seeds last week, and we got a "Topsy Turvy" thing to try the "upside down tomato plant" -- It'll be a while 'till we can plant here, but it's nice to look forward to it! We loved the fruit of his labor last summer -- and I'm sure the fresh veggies helped me to lose the pounds!
My husband absolutely loves gardening! He helped out on a farm as a teenager and I can't get the 'farmer' out of him. LOL! We have a ton of landscaping and have put in many edible berry plants among the flowers. We have blueberries, gooseberries and honeyberries among the flowers. Along with several fruit trees, we also have a 42'x100' garden for veggies. He just put poles around 3/4 of it and planted grape vines and currant bushes around it. Along with making home-made wines, we feed our family as well as many of the people we work with! We're finally learning how to freeze the veggies without them getting mushy. I can't wait for harvest time again - I just ran out of my frozen blueberries!

I encourage anyone having the slightest interest in it to try it. Berry bushes really don't require a lot of care and the fruit is easy to freeze to use all year round. Report
My family had a garden last year and it was sort of a test run since we had just bought our house and tilled the soil for the first time... This year our plans are actually four times bigger so we can stock up on veggies, make sauces, and simply eat more fresh veggies without worrying about pesticides. Our goal is to store enough to last through next winter and minimize our need to get veggies from the grocery store. As for fruits, we head out to the local orchards and berry patches until our bushes, vines and trees are purchased, planted and start producing. Looking forward to getting my seedlings started here this week!!! Report
I haven't had a garden in a few years but I would love to have one this year. The main problem I used to have is I would eat all the radishes and green onions before I got back in the house. The fresh corn is the best and living in California we grow some good artichokes too. There's nothing like fresh home grown vegetables on the table everynight. Report
I had a small garden last year and plan on expanding it this year. We'll have tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, and herbs. We have a huge rosemary bush that smells so wonderful! Report
It is cheaper to just buy the veggies at a Farmer's Market, IMHO. Report
Gardening is also a great calorie burner! Report
I grew up on a farm and we always had a garden, both summer and fall. It sure helped cut down on the grocery bills. I still garden and absolutely love it! I would encourage anyone who is considering gardening to give it a try! Report
I always had gargens. Also have flower beds nearer the house. this year I am giving up on the flower beds and planting more veg in them. Report
Although we don't have a ton of sun in our yard, I do squeeze a tiny vegetable garden into the space we do have that is not shaded. This year I am starting my seeds via the "wintersown" method and many of my containers are already sown and outside. I'm going to use a cold frame for peas, lettuce and spinach and will hopefully be harvesting my first crop in May. I take in my herbs in October and treat them as houseplants for the winter - it's been nice to have fresh parsley, chives, sage and rosemary all winter. Hopefully next year I'll rescue more herbs before they die outside! Report
My husband introduced me to real gardening soon after we were married. We had tomatoes, peppers, beans, broccoli, corn and potatoes. It was enjoyable and the produce was so much better tasting than store bought. But, when we moved to our new house, we tried it again and it went well for a few years, until our neighbor let his cats run loose. It was too much work trying to keep the cats out of the garden. Heck, they thought it was a new, giant litter box, lol! I'd like to try it again someday since it really was something I liked to do. Report
I have high bush blueberry bushes, raspberry,and blackberry bushes, and have grown tomatoes and peppers every year. I also have chives and garlic chives that come back every year and use all summer long. We put the tomatoe and peppers right in our flower beds that way it all blends in. Last summer was too wet and we didn't get a lot of tomatoes but the blueberries were great, I get a crop for a entire month and they are so good. My boys have always just loved going outside and eating off the bushes. I also have a rhubarb patch by the front door and can get quite a bit off it. I love stewed rhubarb. We also have two crabapples trees in the yard and I've made crabapple jelly which my husband inhaled. Report
Definitely will have a garden Victory or not is up to God We have been married 53+ years and every one of those years have had a garden and when our five children were little they each had their own small garden and as adults today they all have big gardens. It is always such a joy to pick the fresh produce and enjoy eating it knowing that we grew it with God's help as he provides the sun and rain. one day at a time Report
I hadn't heard the term "victory garden" before. Interesting! Report
We planted a fall garden in our yard and shared the costs and responsiblities with our neighbors. We got the idea from a site called Hyperlocavore. A locavore eats locally grown food and what could be more (hyper) local than your own yard. They encourage people with yard space to get together with those who don't have space so they can garden together. You can find people in your area on their site. My husband and I had never gardened before. Now we share gardening chores, interact more with our neighbors and eat well. I discovered that pulling weeds was a stress reducer for me (never in a million years would I have guessed that) while others liked watering, thinning or canning of vegetables. It has been a great experience that we are getting ready to repeat for the spring. Report
I have always had an herb garden and this year, I will try my hand at vegetables. Starting out small, to see if I have enough sun. We have 100+ year old trees all around our house, so good sunlight is always a problem in the summer. Report
I grow my own salsa garden: roma & beefsteak tomatos, a variety of peppers (jalepeno, bells, etc), & a couple of sets of onions. Plus I've got an indoor herb garden in a container that gets set out during the summer time. This year, I'm planting lettuces, radishes, & carrots. Can't wait to get my hands in some dirt! LOL! Report