Victory Gardens Are Making a Comeback!
If you have been to the grocery store in the past several weeks, you know there is a valid reason to question our food security. Empty store shelves, limits, and long lines are now a common sight when shopping. As spring planting season approaches, its time to think about planting your garden. It’s never been more important to ensure that you have a nutritious supply of food for you and your family.
What’s exciting about this time is the rebirth of the Victory Garden. Victory Gardens were home and community gardens that helped supply fresh produce during wartime. The government encouraged people to grow their own food and the effect was far from minor. Victory Gardens supplied one third of the food for our country during WWII. These gardens were essential in bridging the food shortage gap during rationing.
If you are feeling inspired by Victory Gardens, homesteading, or being a bit more self-sufficient, then it’s time to plan your home garden. Here’s a few tips to help you navigate this planting season.
1. Prep Work
Garden and Raised Beds: Light and easy to work with soil is ideal for a vegetable garden. This may require tilling your soil a few times to get the texture you desire. Nutrients are important as well. If you use the same plot of soil every year for your garden, be sure to put nutrients back in. Tilling in a combination of compost, manure, and peat moss will give your veggies the start they need.
Container Gardening: Many, if not all, vegetables can be successfully planted in pots and containers. A large pot will be necessary for tomato plants, along with support to keep the plant from flopping. Use a bagged garden soil or potting mix for your container soil. Using too heavy of a soil can cause the plants to become waterlogged and rot. You can also fill the bottom few inches of your pot with bark or broken pots to take up space and create drainage.
2. Early Season Crops
We expect sales to be down in some categories, but not edibles. Do not delay in purchasing early season crops. Potatoes and onions can be planted now, and availability is as good as it will be. We pre-order our potato and onion sets in the fall for spring delivery. When they are sold out, we are unable to re-order, so shop early for what you need.
Mid-April is the time to plant what we call cold crop. Broccoli, cauliflower, collards, kohlrabi, peas, lettuces, and kales can be planted even if there is a threat of frost. Things like radishes, beets, spinach, and carrot seeds can be sown directly into your garden. They thrive in the cool spring but not so much during the scorching heat. What’s fun about these crops is that they are ready early. You can expect to enjoy radishes in about 25 days and lettuces in about 40 days.
3. May Season
Mid to late May is the best time to start planting almost everything. Our selection of tomatoes and peppers will be the best of the season and we will have a full supply healthy plants. If there is a threat of frost, be sure to “cover” your tomatoes and peppers with a sheet or bucket to protect them from freezing. Green beans and sweet corn seed can be planted as well. Green beans usually sprout in just a few days so there’s really no need to start them inside the house. It’s fun to stagger your plantings of beans so they aren’t all ready at once.
4. Late Season Crops
By Memorial Day, the weather should be sunny, and the ground will be warm. This is the perfect time to plant warm weather crops like squashes, cucumbers, and pumpkins. Leave lots of space for these to grow in the garden! There are some “bush” varieties that stay compact, but most will spread. To save room, you can train cucumbers or zucchini on a trellis and let them grow up. They are easier to pick this way too.
Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries can be planted throughout spring, summer, and fall but the selection will be the best in early May. Be mindful of the space they will require. Raspberry plants tend to run and can quickly overtake a space that’s too small. Blueberries have a few unique challenges. They need a pollinator and they like an acid soil. Strawberries are carefree and the only challenge can be competing with critters for the delicious fruit. Strawberries can be grown in pots, hanging baskets, or the ground.
6. Asparagus, Horseradish, and Rhubarb
Most often, you will find these in bareroot form at our store. In the packages, their crowns and roots look like something that would require a miracle to grow. Trust us, they are quite easy to start but do require patience. It can be 1-3 years before you can pick and enjoy your harvest so be sure to prep your soil with compost and manure. This will give them the nutrients they need to flourish.
The Garden Spot is Open to Customers
We are excited at the response and questions we’ve received about vegetable gardening this season. While our growers are planning for a surge in home gardening, don’t delay in purchasing. There’s no reason to panic but don’t procrastinate if there’s specific varieties you want. A few things that we tend to run out of by the end of May are Roma and Amish Paste tomatoes (popular for canning), broccoli, and kohlrabi.
In Wisconsin, we are thankful that garden centers are considered an essential business. We can be open, and you are more than welcome to shop our store. Every precaution is being taken. We are frequently disinfecting all spaces and washing our hands.
We understand that not everyone is comfortable shopping in store. Because of this, we are offering curbside pick-up. Our plant selections are posted online and you can call or email orders to us for pick up. We can take payment info over the phone or when you arrive.
When you are ready to pick up your order, call our store and we can bring your plants to the car for a no contact shopping experience. Please reach out to us if you have any questions. This process is new to us, but we are more than willing to adapt to help everyone stay healthy.