Victory Gardening

We have seen a huge surge in gardening during the pandemic. They called it “Victory Gardening.” The expression was originally coined during World Wars I and II, when Americans had to ration food. Therefore, to preserve the food and tin supply for troops and to boost morale, the US government encouraged the population to grow its own food. It is estimated that more than 20 million Americans grew their own fruits and vegetables during that time, representing about 40 percent of the country’s supply of fresh produce! Gardening surged due to necessity, and the Victory Garden was born!

33 years ago picking strawberries with my Dad and family.
7 years ago my children helping me in our garden.

Jump to 2020. The pandemic, with its shelter-in-place orders, social distancing, and massive layoffs, drove millions back home, and an estimated 16 million new gardeners were born. Being home created the initial opportunity, but the stress relief of gardening created the motivation. As we kick off 2021, Garden Magazine estimates that 85% of those gardeners plan to replant. What does that mean? We are going to have a lot of hobby gardening or what I like to say, micro-farming. These gardeners are still fairly new and looking for a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from gardening.

Chelsea Davis from Forbes interviewed Christopher “Landy” Landercasper, the Director of Farming Operations for Sonoma’s Best Hospitality Group, and he said one thing you need to know about starting your garden is,

“Soil health is generally increased by having the building blocks of life in the proper ratios for the plant you are trying to grow. The big three nutrients for plant health are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N-P-K). Getting the balance of these three correct will be the best thing you can do to help your plant be healthy.”

I am actually planning my spring garden right now, and I want to make sure it’s going to be a success. In years past, my family always involved me in the garden and today, I like to involve my children so they can follow along and reap what they sow. One fun point they have learned from our gardening efforts is they like to plant what they prefer to eat. I asked my four children what they want to plant and this is their breakdown. Neal wants a blueberry bush; Charlee wants cherry tomatoes; Georgia wants strawberries; and Lillie wants avocados. In the past, I have grown all of the above but avocado. To be honest, I don’t know where I can even find an avocado tree, but I am going to put forth a good effort for her.

To avoid a bad investment, here is my breakdown of how we will begin with a healthy start:

  • The blueberry bush needs soil with a pH of 4.5. I am going to look for a 1-3 year old plant.
  • The strawberries will be my favorite to plant. I did strawberries as a child and I love to eat strawberry shortcake in the summer. The strawberries will go in the ground now, even though it’s January. The soil pH needs to be 6.5.
  • The tomatoes will also need to be planted by end of February and will require soil with pH of 6.5 and a nice crawler stand to grow.
  • The avocado is going to be a lot more sensitive and I will need to keep a close eye on this one. The soil pH will need to be around 5-5.5, and I will have to watch the other nutrients closely.

I am also a believer in the right genetics so I will be selecting these plants carefully. I will start all of them with healthy soils and I will use my soil test to make amendments and keep the plants at optimal health. Along the way, I am also going to plant some other fun items for myself, and I will talk more about those later. Hint – I have always wanted a vanilla bean farm. Stay tuned…