Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Victory Gardening

I ordered seeds today. Yes, the garden bug has hit. It may still be 30 degrees every morning, but in a couple of months, it will finally be warm enough to actually plant something in the ground. So in the meantime I'm planning and getting my beds ready. 

Something about a Victory Garden has always appealed to me. Perhaps it's a pioneering spirit that I've inherited from my kin-folks. I kind of like the idea of being a bit self-sufficient (or perhaps a better way of putting it would be "less dependent").  I think most people today just assume that food will always show up at the grocery store looking oh-so-perfect with every produce item available year round (even if it really isn't in season locally). I could literally blog on and on about my opinion of getting our food from afar, but that isn't what I wanted to address today.

Victory Gardens started showing up during WWI and II when national resources were being diverted to the troops and the government began encouraging families to grow their own produce. It was considered a national duty and allowed everyone, even children, to participate in the war effort. (Today, I fear most Americans think their participation in the War on Terror is paying their taxes.) In some areas, families planted their own gardens while in others, where space was limited, community plots were planted and tended. I can imagine all the sharing of ideas and tips that went on back and forth between neighbors as they combated pests, watering issues, and plant varieties! What a great avenue that would be for people to develop relationships in our society that is so technologically based that we only interact through some form of media and where communities are often just places where we go home to sleep. 

Now my ambitions often outweigh my resources or capabilities, so I am going to go small this year and plant only a few items that are favorites in our family. I figure that if I keep it manageable, I'll gain confidence and learn a few things along the way. Also, it won't be so expensive. Seeds sound cheap until you start buying a dozen packets or so! I'm sticking to heirloom seeds because they tend to be hardy, disease resistant, and packed with vitamins, phytonutrients, and flavor. Also, if you are buying from a reputable source there should be no chance of getting some genetically modified seeds.

I've been reading Patricia Lanza's book Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces where she shares her technique for building garden beds by layering different kinds of planting mediums such as compost and peat moss on top of thick sections of newspaper. The idea is that the newspaper attracts earthworms (they love the stuff) and they'll begin working the soil for you. Before the newspaper naturally breaks down, it blocks light so that weeds die and don't come up. Hopefully, this technique, along with a limited number of plants, will allow me to be successful enough to keep it up year round. Now that would be VICTORY!

Companies Offering Heirloom Seeds:


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