Gardening has experienced a reawakening, with undeniable parallels to the victory gardening during World Wars I and II. With the quarantine, today’s motivations are a little different. The victory in this case is keeping spirits up through self-isolation—as well as discovering the practical benefits of growing food and self-reliance. Learn more—plus find 3 garden plans for your modern victory garden!
Victory Gardens Then
Having published since 1792, The Old Farmer’s Almanac held strong even through the years of World War II, when victory gardens were at their peak. At that time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraged the planting of victory gardens to help lower the cost of the nation’s food. Amazingly, at its height, thanks to a fantastic effort by home growers around one third of the vegetables produced by the United States came from these gardens. By May 1943, there were 18 million victory gardens in America—12 million in cities and 6 million on farms.
Every available space was used: onions sprouted from flowerbeds, temporary raised beds were created, and Victory gardens sprang up in city parks, on roof tops, in backyards, and within the suburbs. This was promoted as healthy family fun, recreational, and patriotic. After the war, many families now proficient in horticulture carried on for economic reasons, as food was still in short supply for several years.
Victory Gardens Now
While gardening for economic stability and to put healthy, varied, fresh food on the family’s table is still vital, there are other motivations today, too.
Gardening our way to victory through the coronavirus crisis can offset some of the impacts of self-isolation and anxiety. Working a garden has a well-documented positive effect on our mental health and wellbeing. The healing power of gardening helps to keep us fit, enables us to be part of nature, restores our balance, and delights our senses.
Did you know: Simply contemplating the color green is known to help us rest and recharge our tired brains. In fact, nature has such a life-enhancing effect upon us that some researchers have coined the phrase “nature-deficit disorder” to explain the depression caused by lack of an outdoor connection—especially in children.
See The Old Farmer’s Almanac article on “Planting a Victory Garden During Quarantine.”
2020 Victory Garden Plans
So, for beginners wanting to create their first edible garden, which combines all the great holistic effects of gardening with the practical benefits of growing their own food, we have put together some starter victory garden plans!
Garden Layout 1: “Recipe” Raised Bed
The first of these is a “recipe” raised bed, which contains all the ingredients for a delicious harvest that can be made into a spring vegetable soup. See full layout, plant list, and details.
Garden Layout 2: “Easy to Grow” Beginner Garden
The second plan was created using The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Planner’s ‘Easy to Grow’ filter to help select plants. This plan has just four simple raised beds and is straightforward to maintain. Beginner gardeners should start with a few of their favorite crops for the first year and then add more as it is easy to become overwhelmed in the first flush of enthusiasm. See full layout, plant list, and details.
Garden Layout 3: Small Salad Garden
The third plan is a small salad garden, complete with tomatoes and cucumbers which are grown up a square trellis. Replace them with more salad greens and this would also make an ideal plan for a sheltered shady corner. The fresh clean taste of salad leaves, complemented with a few edible flowers and herbs from outside your front door is priceless. See garden layout, plant list, and details.
The Almanac Garden Planning Tool
Click on the links for the plans above to see further details, including a Plant List showing quantities of each plant that you will need for that plan and the spacing. Planting dates are for a typical Zone 5 area, but creating your own plan using our Garden Planner will give more accurate recommendations for your local area.
Dig for Victory Community
For more encouragement and advice as we navigate our way through this “new normal,” discover a gardening community called digforvictory.org.
If you’re new to gardening and have a plot of land, this is a forum where gardeners can come together to offer advice and support to each other. The goal is to keep up spirts during this time of self-isolation and quarantine through the medium of chat and encouragement.
Let’s find ways to bring own “victory” gardens to life in the 21st century!