Victory Gardens

Sharon February 22nd, 2008

We need victory now just as much as during World War I or II, when virtually all Americans grew victory gardens in place of lawns. There’s a lot we could learn from our grandparents (www.victorygardening.com) Food production is an enormous part of our energy use, and every American needs to do their part by growing some of their food. The more dependent we are on foreign oil the more vulnerable we are to hunger. The more resources we waste transporting out of season tomatoes from drought-stricken California to the wet east, the fewer resources we’ll have for things we really need. So everyone needs to grow a victory garden – no matter how much space you have, everyone can grow something.

If you’ve only got a windowsill…GROW SPROUTS! Sprouting seeds from broccoli, alfalfa, wheat, radishes, spinach and other vegetables are delicious, highly nutritious and an excellent substitute for out of season things. You can have something crisp, crunchy and delicious on your salad even when there are no peppers or lettuce to be had. Everyone can grow their own sprouts. Here’s how (www.sproutpeople.com).

If you’ve got a south facing windowsill…GROW HERBS. In addition to sprouts, anyone with a decent amount of sun in their windows can keep a few herbs growing over the window, enough to add a fresh taste to their food and save them money and resources at the grocery store. Rosemary, dill, thyme and sage are among the easiest. Learn more here (www.uvm.edu/pss/ppp/articles/herbs.html).

If you’ve got a balcony or a window box…GROW VEGETABLES, FRUITS and EDIBLE FLOWERS in containers. Even a window box 40 feet above the ground can grow some tiny, delectable alpine strawberries, some spicy nasturtium leaves and blossoms that look beautiful and taste better, some tomatoes, a hot pepper, maybe even cucumbers. A bigger space means more containers and more food. There are people who grow most of their own vegetables in containers. One of the best at it is Pat Meadows. She has a blog here (www.entire-of-itself.blogspot.com) and runs a container gardening list. She can tell you what the best varieties of melon for a container are, or how to mix your own potting soil. You can buy seeds of vegetables that grow best in containers here (www.containerseeds.com).

If you’ve got a little plot of front yard in the city…, TURN IT INTO AN EDIBLE LANDSCAPE. Check out this recent program that appeared on the ABC nightly news (abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=2344206&page=1). Instead of rhododendrons, grow blueberries. Instead of ornamental maples, grow edible crabapples. Instead of lawn, grow beautiful vegetables. And don’t hide your efforts – spell out VICTORY in multicolored cabbages, or with petunias. Remind people that we’ve got something worth fighting for!! Check out what these folks do in an ordinary city yard (www.pathtofreedom.org). This family has grown many thousands of pounds of their own food on their front lawn, and are working their way to complete energy efficiency.

If you’ve got a big, sunny, back or front yard,…GROW A BIG VICTORY GARDEN! Gardening is fun – instead of mowing the lawn on your days off, get down and grow sweet corn, peppers, peas, strawberries, eggplant, squash, raspberries and other delicacies. Here are some websites than can help you learn how (www.gardenguides.com/articles/veggie.htm, www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/yeager74.html) Remember, we can’t do it without you! Unless people grow their own food, we are in danger of becoming food insecure in the longer term. Every meal of your own you grow saves fossil fuel for your grandkids, and it saves you money and gives you better food as well. Learn to put food up – dehydrate some, make jam, make pickles, or store vegetables in a cool place for the winter (www.backwoodshome.com/articles/clay53.html, www.ext.nodak.edu/extnews/askext/canning.htm)

If you have…KIDS, garden with them!! Children love to dig in the dirt, grow their own, and learn about food, soil, ecosystems. And they love to eat what they grow. Get the whole family involved. Here are some ideas for a kid’s garden. www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/clay69.html

Consider some livestock as well!!!!!

If you live in a tiny apartment…KEEP WORMS!! Seriously, worms will eat all your garbage and return perfect potting soil for you or a friend, and fertilizer for your house plants. They don’t smell, attract bugs or make noise. They just eat what you would normally have thrown in the garbage and return fertile compost and liquid fertilizer. They are cheap, easy to maintain and surprisingly fun! Anyone can do it – learn how here www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/bse/442-005/442-005.html

If you live in a slightly larger apartment or urban house…KEEP RABBITS!! They are quiet, soft, make good pets and can be housebroken. They are useful meat animals, being very efficient turners of grass and yard waste into meat. You can collect many weeds (especially dandelions) and they’ll turn them into useful manure. If you don’t want to eat them, the manure is still good, they’ll still eat your yard waste, you can sell babies in many cases, and angora rabbits have usable fleece that can make yarn. www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/bse/442-005/442-005.html; www.qsl.net/ki0dz/rrr.htm

If you’ve got room…CONSIDER GETTING A FEW CHICKENS!! (Just don’t get a rooster if you have near neighbors). 4 hens will give you a couple of eggs each day. Their manure will fertilize your garden, and their pleasant habits of scratching and cooing will be fun for you and your family. They’ll eat pesky bugs and flies, and your garden waste and dinner scraps. You won’t need to buy eggs from a factory farm, which will save energy and keep hens from being mistreated. And you’ll get the pleasure of listening to them laying your eggs and scratching around your yard. Many cities and suburbs permit rabbits – just check with your local zoning board first. And if they don’t, consider petitioning to change that law. Check out these chickens living in downtown Seattle! http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2005/06/02/424265.aspx Bring back the Backyard hen!

If you’ve got a big place…CONSIDER GOATS. They’ll eat weeds, don’t take up much space and can provide a family with enough milk, cheese and yogurt to keep everyone happy. Back during the great depression, a New York City department store sold goats to New Yorkers to keep on their balconies (no, I’m not kidding)! So if they can do it, you certainly can. www.backwoodshome.com/articles/shaffer64.html

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