Victory gardens are back in a big way & many brand new gardeners are looking to plant their own fruits, vegetables & herbs due to the current times of uncertainty that we are facing. Growing your own produce is always an excellent decision & creating your very own victory garden is a lot easier than it might sound. You can do this! Yes, you! There’s a lot of information out there regarding the history of victory gardens, which I definitely recommend doing a Google dive on. But I thought it would be helpful to create an easy guide on victory gardens to help anyone who is interested in getting their own gardens up & running asap.
What to Plant in a Victory Garden?
When I first started looking up information on victory gardens I was under the impression that it needed certain types of veggies or a certain ratio of veggies to be considered a true victory garden. For example, I thought that I would need tomatoes, peppers, corn, green beans etc at let’s say a 25% each ratio. I kept reading different articles to see if there was some magical veggie formula plan, but the reality is a victory garden is what you want it to be. Do you want an all tomato garden? Strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, basil & oregano garden? Those are victory gardens as long as you refer to them as victory gardens. Plant what you want, what you like & what you want to eat.
That being said, in order to get the most out of your garden, I recommend planting plants with abundant crops that can be canned & saved for later. (Check out my 3 best tips for growing a ton of tomatoes). Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc are easy to can & store for the cold weather months when you won’t be able to garden outside. Berries also make for great homemade preserves. On the fence about a certain plant? Check if the produce is can-able. Enjoy your homegrown treasures now & later.
Is it too Late to Plant a Victory Garden?
Nope, it’s the middle of June as I write this article & it’s not too late to plant summer crops. Just get the plants in the ground as soon as you can. Some gardening centers are even starting to offer discounts on their plants, especially those that are only open in the spring/summer. Things are a lot different than they usually are & plants are flying off the shelves these days. You may not be able to get the exact varieties that you are looking for, so get what you can. If a plant looks healthy & you like eating it’s produce then buy it & plant it. Check your local plant nurseries, big box stores, grocery stores & online plant shops for what they have in stock.
Look for plants with a short maturity date, which means how long a plant will take to produce fruit. The shorter the date, the sooner you’ll be able to eat the fruits of your labor. To be on the safe side, check the average last frost date for your area because this will give you an idea on how long you have left in your growing season for summer crops. Make sure that the plants you buy now will mature prior to your average last frost date.
Just because the weather starts to cool off in the late summer/early fall, it doesn’t mean that your victory garden dreams will come to an end. Start a fall veggie garden with cool weather-loving plants like lettuce, kale, broccoli, swiss chard, etc. These plants thrive in cooler weather & some like kale even taste better after a frost. A lot of herbs are evergreens, which means they’ll thrive well into winter before they go dormant. Don’t forget herbs when planning a victory garden. One plant can go a long way, as evidenced by my oregano that has decided to overtake my herb garden. Plus, they’ll up your culinary game.
Where to Plant a Victory Garden?
You can plant a victory garden anywhere that gets enough sun for the plants that you wish to grow. In true victory garden fashion, many people have made one wherever they had extra space. Some people even turned their entire yards into edible gardens. But my number one recommendation for new gardeners with a garden is to create a raised bed garden. Raised beds are so simple to make & easy to garden in. I especially recommend them for people who have poor soil conditions. All you have to do is build your own raised bed or assemble one via a kit, then fill it with soil & fertilizer. That’s all there is to it. It took me about 1 hour to create my raised bed a few years ago. Planting it is an absolute breeze too since the soil is so fluffy.
The great thing about having a raised bed victory garden is that you can adjust the size of the bed to fit your needs. Have a bad back? Build a tall raised bed so you don’t have to do a lot of bending over. Are you on the shorter side? Make your raised bed skinnier so you don’t have a hard time reaching into the bed. Have an oddly shaped area? Create L-shaped raised beds instead of the standard rectangle bed. Having a raised bed victory garden is the ultimate customized veggie garden.
Can I Create a Container Victory Garden?
You sure can! For those of you that live in apartments or are short on space, a container victory garden is a great option. Look for compact/bush varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, etc. These types of veggies don’t need a lot of space to grow & flourish in containers. Just make sure that you have big enough pots. 5-gallon pots are recommended for tomatoes since their roots need so much space. I had a lot of success growing tomatoes in 5-gallon grow bags a few years ago on our deck. My tomato plants grew well over 6 feet tall & thrived well into October. Grow bags are super easy to store too for those with limited space. Just dump out the soil, fold the bags & store.
Most herbs thrive in containers too, so go hog wild planting them. Strawberries are also great to grow in containers, especially hanging baskets. Some varieties of dwarf fruit trees can also be planted in containers. There are a lot of edible flowers like marigolds, pansies, violets, etc. that will love a container environment too. The possibilities for a container victory garden is nearly endless. My best advice is to do a little research on the plants that you want to grow & see what varieties do best in containers. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll be able to grow in your pots.
Well, I hope that this guide was able to answer some of the questions that you may have about victory gardens. I also hope it has pushed you to take the plunge & create your own. There are few things more satisfying than growing your own food. It’s so fulfilling being able to eat what you have put work into growing & I want all of you to know what that feels like. At times the world might just not seem to make sense. Sometimes we work for something only never to see the fruition of our efforts. But all seems right in the universe when you plant a plant, take care of it & harvest the produce from it. Even if just for a second, everything seems to make a sense. It lifts your mood & gives you something to be proud of. You grew that! & it’s delicious & it’s because of you! That’s something I want you to experience & there’s no time like the present. Come on now, get to it, grow your own victory garden! Future you will thank today you. Happy gardening, everyone!