Saturday, March 28, 2009

Victory Gardening

"Montmorency" Standard Tart Cherry Tree

I found a pamphlet titled “Instructions for Victory Gardens.” Produced as a working manual by the Illinois State Council of Defense during the 1940s.

Although the era did not have the benefit of new technology for gardening, there isn’t one single item that doesn’t pertain to gardening today.

I had to smile when I got to the title of the last chapter: “Waste Not: Want Not!” I heard that phrase so many times when I was growing up but somehow, along the years, that ideal has been mostly discarded. Shall we revisit?

Abundant garden produce takes time and work. In this wonderfully fertile land, the appreciation and desire to “waste not - want not” is needed. 

Let’s explore some of the Victory Garden hints for gardening:

  • Soil: Amend the garden areas before you plant. Amend means add nutrients or texture as your particular soil requires.
  • Compost: That whole kitchen scraps, yard waste, and manure thing.
  • Seeds & plants: Seed are cheaper. Whichever you choose, think about what your family will eat, if it will grow in your soil, and try something new each year.
  • Pick a spot: Either an area devoted to produce or tuck into the flower beds.
  • Care: Plant only what you can care for, harvest and preserve. Read to understand what your crops need.
  • Time: Take a walk through your garden daily to check for moisture needs. This will allow you to spy insects and diseases and eliminate before they take hold. 
  • Ecology: Don’t use powerful insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers without understanding what you are doing to the environment. Sometimes simple is best.
  • Produce: Use it, preserve it, and share it.

“Waste not: Want not” gardening simply means we should consider what we are doing to our earth for future generations. It means if you can produce your own supply of food, you should. It means if you do produce it, you don’t let it rot or go to seed. It means you plant enough to last you through until the next crop. It means you share your bounty with others less fortunate.

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.” Gertrude Jekyll. This famous garden designer, writer and artist knew the “happiness benefit” of waste not: want not!

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