Victory gardens tend to conjure images of Uncle Sam, Rosie the Riveter, and wartime propaganda.
But they continue today as bastions of sustainability for the environmentally conscious city-dweller. In fact, you can still find victory gardens dotting the green spaces in cities such as Boston and Minneapolis. With just a little planning, you can augment your own green space and your dinner table with a little victory garden of your own.
Victory gardens began during World War I and continued in World War 2 as vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens for private residences. They were meant to sustain the food supplies for the war effort. They also served as a morale booster so that the average citizen could feel as if they were contributing to the war effort. Any green patch of land was used for cultivation, including public parks and rooftops. While we may not be in danger of a food shortage today, a small garden of edible delights can sustain your diet, your home and the environment.
You can choose to grow edible plants in any patch of land or in containers, proving that you can garden even in the smallest space. However there are a few basic requirements.
- Check daily for any temperature extremes, accessibility to water and proper drainage, pests, and average amount of sunlight. Keep in mind that these vary with the seasons, so know these things for the growing season.
- You’ll need a minimum of 8 hours of sunlight for foliage vegetable and herbs. You’ll need a minimum of 10 hours for flowering fruit and vegetable plants.
- In an urban environment, you will also need to check for sterile soil and fertilizer.
Once you have the right environment, plan your garden.
Herbs are the easiest and most useful plants to introduce to your garden. They can make great background plants or accents while still being useful.
- Herbs such as thyme, oregano, marjoram, sage, tarragon, and spearmint are beautiful in the garden and useful in your kitchen.
- Colorful sages, rosemary, lavender, and thyme can be trimmed into hedges and topiaries.
Edible flowers can provide bright accents and are great for salads.
- Try flowers such as nasturtium, calendula, basil, chives, dill, fennel, arugula, viola, and borage. These are all edible.
Fruiting shrubs will bear a lot more fruit than you realize for such a small space.
- Try blueberries, currants, and elderberries.
- Raspberries and blackberries are excellent also but require good drainage and consistent pruning.
Some excellent veggies to include are peppers, eggplant, and bulbing fennel. Squash and peppers provide beautiful flowers, which produce the fruit.
- In fact, habanero peppers have a delicate little flower for such a powerful flavor.