An uptick in vegetable gardening that occurred last year as COVID-19 lockdowns went into effect seems set to repeat this year. Now’s the time to start the seeds of a pandemic victory garden, since germinating plants hardy enough to transplant can take six to eight weeks. Gardeners will be rewarded with fresh food and a new sense of security, Rose Hayden-Smith, food historian and author of Sowing the Seeds of Victory, told HuffPost: “It’s helpful to be productive and connect with nature, and it’s something that’s within our control in a situation that feels entirely out of control.”
Growing vegetables is a great way to save money on groceries, says Better Homes & Gardens. A single tomato plant can yield 10 pounds of fruit in a season, for example, saving $40 on store-bought varieties that just can’t deliver the same flavor. You don’t even need a lot of space to start; by tucking raised beds, pots and other containers into the corners of a deck or balcony, even apartment-dwellers can enjoy nature’s bounty. Check the thrift store for spare pots, window boxes and other containers you can upcyle to create a garden; many are supplied by generous donations to ClothingDonations.org.
If you’re starting your first serious vegetable garden, you’re in for a treat. Fresh-picked produce tastes better than store-bought, says a beginner’s guide from The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Be sure to pick a good location that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day; features soft, rich soil and good drainage; and won’t be disturbed easily by winds or foot traffic. Start small to ensure you don’t create more work (or more of a single crop) than you can handle. Give your plants enough room to grow, and observe each crop’s watering requirements carefully. And finally, choose vegetables that are easy to grow in your area and that you like to eat, and you’ll be hooked in no time.
During World War I and II, many families in the United States planted victory gardens to reduce pressure on the public food supply and aid in the war effort. Today, consider growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs for relief from the high prices of factory-farmed produce, says FamilyFoodGarden.com. For the ultimate in victory garden foodstuffs, consider crops that can withstand early frosts such as potatoes, cabbage, carrots and radishes. For extra flavor, try onions, garlic and herbs. And to have bountiful produce without a lot of work, try perennial or self-seeding plants such as rhubarb, kale and spinach.
Planting a garden with vegetables you buy and eat on a regular basis can help maintain your healthy diet while saving money, says the Thrifty Little Mom. Her garden selections include spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers and zucchini, which can be expensive to buy in stores and taste best when harvested fresh from the vine. Keep your garden simple by dedicating plots or raised beds to growing, and remember that many vegetables must be planted in full sun to thrive, she adds. Avoid waste by canning, freezing or giving away some of your all-organic, home-grown bounty.