One of the best programs to watch on PBS was The Victory Garden. Roger Swain was the host and he offered great tips on gardening while Marian Morash would cook up an amazing recipe with the produce that was picked that day. Victory Gardens have a long history beginning in 1917 during WWI when food shortages made it necessary for folks to grow their own vegetables. They really took off during WWII where they produced over 9 million tons of food and became a way for the average American to help the war effort and boost morale. Victory Gardens are once again making a comeback in this time of the Coronavirus. And it’s easy to see why.
Vegetable gardening is a great way to feel empowered by watching the awesomeness of a plant growing from seedling to fruit. Victory gardening offers the sense of providing for yourself or your family and boosting morale which is good for the soul.
Growing vegetables is easy. Now is a great time to get started. You will need 6 or more hours of sun, water, and a spot for them to grow. If all you have is a patio or balcony, no problem, Vegetables can be grown in a container. Containers don’t need weeding, they can be moved and you can keep them safe from wildlife. Tips for choosing a container can be found here.
Filling your container with a soil-less mix makes the container lighter and provides better drainage. Potting mix tips can be found here. Choose a sunny spot for your container with a minimum of six hours of sun. Remember that once the soil goes in, the container can be heavy, and adding a rolling caddy, makes moving your container easier.
Vegetables that do great in a container are:
4-5 inches deep—- lettuce or any salad greens, radishes, chives, and herbs.
6-7 inches deep —- bush beans, peas, onions, garlic.
8-9 inches deep —carrots, cucumber, eggplant, peppers, spinach, leeks, pole beans.
10-12 inches deep —kale, potatoes, broccoli, squash, beets.
Radishes are fun to grow from seed. They are good for first-time gardeners because they grow fast. Choosing lettuce and beets to grow from seed are great options. These three vegetables need thinning out once the seedlings sprout, giving them room to grow. Beans and peas are very successful from seed. Do check the expiration date on the seed pack. Plants give you a head start on the growing season. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and squash can be found as plants. Check your local nursery and see what is available. Look for plants that are healthy with lush, green leaves, no broken or brown stems, and no roots sticking out of the bottom of the pot. These plants have become root-bound and can be difficult to transplant. Taller plants are not necessarily better if it looks thin and weedy it may be stressed.
Once you get your seeds or plants home follow the instructions on how to plant. The directions apply to containers just as they would for the ground. Just like people plants need to be watered and feed. Containers may need to be watered daily. Check by poking a finger in the dirt about an inch, if it feels dry, then water. Consistent watering will decrease the chance that your plants will become stressed and will help them to develop properly. Watering tips for containers can be found at this link.
Fertilizing is important because the plants and water will deplete the nutrients in the soil. For General fertilizing tips follow this link. Don’t forget to add a pole or small trellis to allow the beans or peas to grow. Your tomatoes will also need support, a colorful tomato cage would look great in your pot. Have fun with your containers, decorate your pots, add decorations, or a bit of whimsy.
Raising vegetables in containers is a fun and rewarding way to win the Victory against these confusing and difficult times. Happy Victory Gardening!