Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Victory Gardens

A comment Aunty belle replied to from this post, asked for more information on Victory Gardens. Now I'm sure she knows more about them than I do and this is probably a setup, yet I shall stumble forward anyway. Most of what I know regarding victory gardens came from my grandparents and the PBS TV show. One of the few TV shows that held my attention. Feeding yourself and your family while doing your patriotic duty is an appealing concept to many. With the turmoil in the economy, the advantages of having a secondary source of food becomes apparent.

So how about a little history: The concept of the victory garden was actually started WW1. However it's name came from WW2. Although the DOA originally objected to the concept, for fear of hurting big business. As the war grew more intense it became apparent that more sources of food were necessary. During the course of the war more than 20 million gardens were planted in the U.S. These gardens help to sustain the noncombatant population the United States while most of the commercially produced foods were shipped overseas to feed the troops.

How does the concept the fit in today: Well most folks are totally reliant on huge corporations to provide their food. An amazing number of the population have no concept of how to feed themselves. If they can't order it with a cell phone or pull it out of the drive up window, they could not feed themselves.(K9, this is a advantage that those of us in the know, we will utilize to great advantage in the Armageddon) having a stable food source in your garden, will go along way to helping you provide your own food source, a pretty good source of recreation, exercise and fun.

Could I survive on what I grow? Not yet. All of my garden is in raised boxes or in tire planters, (Thank you, Princess) on land that I lease. But it all helps. We just harvested our first cucumbers of the year and still have a half a jar of pickles from last year.

So think about it, do you grow grass? Yes to some it's pretty. Yet it's pretty useless too. Unless you're feeding Secretariat. Why not plant a garden instead? We are also part of a Co-op farm where we can pick and get local produce. Any portions we don't pick up are given to the local food bank. Why not you?

The following video is from WW2, it's 20 minutes long. If you have time enjoy it. I will be interested in comments on the insecticides.


Sharon Rudd said...

Ah, Karl, ever helpful with your encyclopedic history lessons. Thanks for posting this. These days I think we have more to fear from commercially grown food than those poor troops did in WWI. I admire my blogger friends who are ardent gardeners, while I toil in an office to earn money to support local farmers with my purchases. When I bought my house, some twenty years ago, an “incentive” I received from the lender I chose was a $100 gift certificate to Burpee’s Seeds. That is a dangerous thing to a new homeowner/newbie gardener. I tilled up half my small back yard and planted way more than I could handle, scaling back for a few years, then eventually giving it up. A couple of years ago, a gung-ho gardening neighbor asked to use my (now pretty much unused) backyard for a community garden for several families on my cul-de-sac. I provided the ground and paid the water bill, while others did the heavy lifting. I got a few ears of corn, some tomatoes and peppers out of the deal, while she tried to stave off the weeds and squirrels. Nothing was said about repeating it the following summer, and now she’s not even bothering to put in her usual small plot of veggies while she attempts to sell her house. Sigh. I’m looking elsewhere for homegrown tomatoes, corn, etc. this summer, and hoping to support with the time and inclination to do it right.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to have a big veggie garden and a tree garden. I'd say "orchard" but I think that term implies many trees of the same sort. I'd want ONE avocado tree, ONE orange tree, etc...
Also nuts and legumes. Not sure if small amounts of those are called gardens or not.

sparringK9 said...

Even if you didnt expect food to be expensive in the future, there is plenty of compelling evidence that commercial food is laden with chemicals, pesticides and all kinds of DNA jerry riggin'. I didnt want to learn about food when my back was against the wall so i started 2 years ago. This is my third garden year and i have to say, it takes a lot of time, patience and fortitude. Its hit or miss for me - some crops do great others struggle. one year its great, the next year so so much. Id like fruit trees like Troll said, but most of them require more than one of different varieties in order to be pollinated. THis is true of apples a blueberries. Not citrus. Victory gardens are a great idea, because as gas gets more expensive, so will trucking and shipping making food more expensive too. ANd I agree Karl. An unproductive lawn is a decorative symbol of a time where expanding abundance seemed infinite.

Karl said...

Eggy: I think it's neat that you let your neighbors use your backyard. I can understand not wanting to deal with the hard work. When I left Oklahoma I swore I would never pick another bean or cut another piece of okra in my life. I've kept my promise on okra but changed my mind on the gardening process. Part of the reason is raised beds and the concept of Square Foot Gardening this method is is easy to setup, to maintain and has very good yields for a small space. It could be a way to reduce some of the work if you can find some more neighbors willing to work your garden.

Karl said...

Troll: Probably not an orchard but a good idea. I would love to have an avocado tree. I've read a few interesting articles on small gardens. One was some folks, I think they were in New York City. They made a tiered garden on their balcony and grew quite a lot for such a small space.

K9: I don't know if you watch the video, but in part of it the father and son are mixing an insecticide. I had to laugh watching the two of them pour copper sulfate into a bucket. No gloves no respirators it's a wonder that everyone from that era wasn't brain dead. We struggle with space too. Our boxes are 2 feet wide and total about 34 feet long. Growing one plant that crowds out another one has been a problem. So has working out my watering system. Yeah, it takes a lot of time. But it keeps me off the streets.

Aunty Belle said...

wow--great post and great comments!

I will be back to watch the video--off to make stuff happen, but lemme jes' note that the Square foot set up and Ruth Stout method are perfect fer small bakyard gardens.

On the success--well, seems to me the trick could be that we all have little gardens growing DIFFERENT stuff so that we can trade around.

We has three citrus tress--tangerine, key lime and kumquat--a fig tree thas' young, a now a good start on blackberries ---an' ya know I has a "dog pen garden" in the former dawg run--this be a container garden,

But I really truly is thinkin' to add potatoes an carrots to my perennial border--who will know that among the other pretties is mah pantry??

Great post.

Jenny said...

I love your posts like this; it reads like a great dinner conversation and I will look at the video later today when things calm down at work. My brother and his spouse are growing a massive garden this year and I can see the amount of patience and work K9 is referring to. It's a part time job for them, but they are serious about not relying on "organic" food that's sold in stores for very high prices. We, as a society, are so removed from our food source and it's interesting to see just how quickly it happened; 1940's ...... to now. It scares me to think what this world will look like in another 50 years.

Great post!

moi said...

Great post! I grow a very few things in raised beds, mostly lettuces and herbs from heirloom seeds. This year, it's been tough, given the drought and hungry, maurauding birds, but I'm a great supporter of our local organic farmers, all of whom do a terrific job.

What I need to do is convince S.B. to move down to the river and plunk a chunk of change down on a home with acequia rights. Then I could grow without worry.

Buzz Kill said...

I always thought victory gardens originated in England. The garden in the video looks like about an acre. Who's got an acre?

We've done a community garden for the last 3 years (about 3 miles from the house), but it's only 20' X 20'. We have about 50 tomatoes, some cucumbers, strawberries (which I've had for 3 years, I keep potting them at the end of the season and leave them in the back yard covered in leaves) and we will have pumpkins and late lettuce in the ground this weekend. We're also trying some rhubarb and asparagus.

I hope to make a lot of sauce this year. Thanks for the gardening lesson.

sparringK9 said...

yeah -square foot gardening was a show on PBS too. My mom taught it to me and i still have the book. I like things a bit less crowded...ive learned lots of air to flow around is helpful. I use a copper based fungicide - and a sulfur. boy was it ever stupid to wash the sulfur gloves in my washing machine. oy vey. Id love to see your garden if you feel like posting any photos.

Anonymous said...

My garden sucks but my aim doesn't. Hopefully we won't get to the point of too many people hunting or getting a taste for wild game. Funny what one may eat if driven by hunger.

Karl said...

Aunty Belle: Glad you liked it. I had to look up Ruth Stout, her methods fit right in with the concept of small gardens.

Rotating your crops definitely works even on a small scale.

I've considered an apple tree and a pear tree which will grow well here. But I haven't gotten too far with the idea.

Potatoes are one of the plants that we separated out of the box, the plants are all in the tire garden now. They seem to crowd out the other plants.

Boxer: I find the concept of a dinner conversation with you and yours, quite inviting.

Good for them. It can be a lot of work it can also be relaxing and fun. And you're right we are too far removed from our food source. By the way, you made a comment awhile back on someone else's sight about all the imported food from Whole Foods. We shop there and I went and looked it all the produce we had in the fridge. None of it was imported. The furthest label away from us was Florida.

I don't want to think about what it will be like 50 years from now. I fear it will be much like Soylent Green.

Moi: I was looking at a map of the southwest earlier today the whole area is a red flag zone due to the drought. It has to be tough for anyone to grow anything.

Until the drought breaks and you have to worry about floods.

Buzz Kill: I did too, yet the information I got off the Internet credits an American with the idea. And you know if it's on the Internet, it has to be true. They did say it was 1/4 acre, yet still, few have 1/4 acre.

Your community garden sounds good, yes it may be small. But it's an effort for common good. Looks like you have a good mix of plants growing. We're not doing pumpkins this year, I think they take up too much space for the yield. We do have rhubarb.

Don't forget canning, it's really not very hard to do.

K9: PBS aka, I like to watch dead people. I agree with you on airflow and opening the space around the plants. This is an issue I have because my planters are up against walls. I'll try to post a couple of shots.

Bama Trav: What with the way that we're overrun with whitetail deer. There would have to be a lot of thinning before it became an issue. You can't eat meat all the time, otherwise you end up with scurvy. Yes it is, ever tried a barnacle?

Thank you all for the positive feedback on this.

Princess said...

Lovely post Karl,
I'm glad the Tyre garden is working out for you with your potatoes, sweet potato or yams go just as well in them and contain their spreading nature. Any number of fruit and nut trees combined in the garden constitute an orchard for me. I have a "seville" orange which is about 80 years old and at the end of its fruiting life and not looking too health so I am about to plant a "washington" navel orange and a "blood" orange which has red flesh. I have a lemon, peach, apricot, fig, apple and pear and 3 varieties of plums trees. they are all in the all in one area of the garden that constitutes my "orchard".
I grow my other root and leaf vegetables in old bath tubs raised off the ground o bricks. Herbs are either strewn among the flowering plants and shrubs as under plantings or the more vigorous spreaders grown in large 2' pots.

broccoli, onions, carrots, buk choy
and lettuce and chard/Silver beet are all thriving in the bathtubs at present. And the bean seeds are just poking through the soil.

I have holes to dig for the new citrus trees... So will be off now.
Happy gardening.
And you are right... It's about food security....

darkfoam said...

great post, karl. several years ago i was on some kind of library committee. we did a commemoration of WW!!. my job job was to find info and artifacts from that time about the effort on the home front and display it in a part of the liibrary. i learned a lot about victory gardens then.
plus, during that time they had ration stamp books which helped to keep prices low and enabled folks to still get what they needed .... well, ideally so. i was able to get my hand on one of those but gave it back.

Big Shamu said...

Late to the conversation but it's a great conversation. I'm in the second year of backyard gardening. Here's what I know (and knew), when I've got the money to put into the garden, I don't have the time and when I don't have the money, I've got the time. This year has been frustrating to say the least with the extreme heat. I still need to basically cut down a tree and it's big enough I can't do it myself. So I think I'm calling this year a bust and just start early on bed preparation for next year. I did do more container veggies next to the house mainly because it's the spot that gets the most consistent sun.
On the other hand, I live in a city that goes hog wild with farmer's markets so putting up for the winter isn't ever a problem.

Thanks for a great post.

Karl said...

Princess: Yes they worked out fine. Actually are our highest yielding planters. Of the 3 tires we harvested 21 pounds of potatoes. And we're getting ready to replant, broccoli and cabbage, just waiting for the heat to break.
When I think of what I spent building the planters. I now wish I'd been thinking outside of the box like you.

Foam: When we moved my mother, we found ration books still full. She must've gotten right at the end of the war, either that or she was selling them on the black market I'm not sure which.
Shamy: Nice to see you. You may be late, yet still you reminded me I was remiss on completing some comments, for that I thank you. (My apologies to Princess and Foam for the delay.)

I understand the frustration with money, it seems like you go through all this work and spend all this money to keep the garden growing. It would be cheaper to buy into the store and a lot easier. The problem is that we really need to get back to being more self sufficient. Just in case all the other farms start limiting the supply.

For your tree perhaps you could have someone trim it to increase the light and reduce the expense of taking it all away down. We have one, Mrs.K wanted to take down for the bee's. I trimmed it so they have a clear flight path and now it protects them from the extremes of heat.