Guest Post: Victory Gardens

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Victory Gardens

by Bugbite


During WW I and WW II, Americans grew Victory Gardens to help support
the war effort. With the country at war, resources of all kinds were
being diverted to support national war efforts. People were asked to
grow their own produce, so more of the commercially grown produce was
available for the troops overseas. Those unable to grow their own
were forced to use rationing coupons, while those with gardens had
plenty. Victory Gardens came in every shape and size, from window
boxes to large community plots. Governments and corporations promoted
this call for self-reliance. People in rural and urban areas worked
the soil to raise food for their families, friends, and neighbors.
Victory gardening enabled more supplies to be shipped to our troops
around the world. Although canned foods were rationed items, there
were relatively few food shortages in W.W. II-era America. The call
to plant a Victory Garden was answered by nearly 20 million
Americans. These gardens produced up to 40% of all that was
consumed. “Plant a Victory Garden: Help Win the War!” was the
rallying cry as citizens in the United States and Canada converted
backyards, empty lots and rooftops into gardens to grow hundreds of
thousands of tons of fruit and vegetables. As Axis troops suffered
massive shortages, the Allies were kept well supplied and the Victory
Garden program was credited with helping to win the war against the
Nazi menace.


Well known artists of that time were commissioned to create patriotic
posters making it clear that it was each person’s duty to make an
effort. Major magazines, such as Good Housekeeping and House &
Garden, of that day, featured many articles of instruction and
encouragement about small gardens. Information on acquiring seeds,
helping the soil, where and when to plant, etc. was published and
accessible in everything you read. Every effort was made to educate
and motivate all citizens toward the joy and value of a self
supporting vegetable garden. They taught the basics of gardening.
The audience was assumed as having no knowledge and the material was
presented as such. Topics included soil health, how to plant, when to
plant, how to tend plants, pest identification, and even suggestions
on what to plant. The basic produce types commonly suggested were:
beans, beets, carrots, peas, radishes, lettuce, spinach, chard,
onions, cucumbers, parsley, kohlrabi, summer squash, rutabagas, corn,
parsnips, leeks, turnips, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli,
peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and endive.


When the fighting of World War II ended, so too did the government’s
call for people to produce their own food. It was a policy that was
dropped, in the opinion of some magazine editors of the time, too
quickly. Since many people did not plant a Victory Garden in the
spring of 1946, and the agriculture industry had not yet come back up
to full production, there were food shortages that summer.


These concepts sound very foreign in this day and age. We have been
bombarded for years by messages of consumerism, reliance on others,
and have experienced years of booming economic times. A whole
generation of young people know it no other way.
History is cyclical, the strong economy of the 1990s has
evolved to the recession of 2007-present, and there are lessons to be
learned from the past. September 11 has compelled many of us to
re-examine our lives in
order to connect or reconnect with people and the world around us.
The new war on terrorism is different from previous wars, and I am
not predicting the American public will need to endure food
rationing, as previously done the first two world wars. But, America
still needs the support of the people, and our economy needs to keep
functioning in order to lessen the effects of the war on the home
front. If we are going to live now in an atmosphere of potential
terrorism within our own country, this translates into the
possibility of the occasional lack of supply of anything vital
including fuel and/or food. We have to consider the possibility
anytime in the near future of being occasionally cut off from the
supply of these essential things we take for granted. This could
obviously include utilities and food supplies. So the alternative
idea that we can do something about it, even in a small way, by
gardening in our own backyard, is a kind of stress management at the
very least. At the very most we can provide ourselves a source of the
highest nutrition, particularly if we use what we grow as ingredients
for fresh meals.


No matter how you think the future will unfold, it
is certain that it will include change. If times stay good, that is
great. That is what we are all praying for. If times get tough, a
little insurance is always nice. A form of insurance is the ability
to provide for yourself and your family — having the knowledge to
produce and preserve your own food is the best investment you can


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  1. As an avid gardener (so I may be a bit biased on this), I find it amazing that people with plenty of land do not even grow a single tomato plant, let alone enough to feed their own families.

  2. History repeats itself again and again. To base our diecions for the future on the good times of today could be fatal. There are a number of natural and man caused events that could make food scarce and cause worldwide death by starvation. If one of these events happens in the fall you have a long wait to eat food from your garden. Everyone should be gardening at some level and of course canning and/or storing food. Even a small garden can produce a lot of food and more importantly provide you with a lot of experience for survival gardening. Will SHTF happen in your lifetime? Don’t bet your life against it.

  3. As a LIFETIME organic gardener I applaud your message.Gardening is great exercise and good for getting natural Vit D and the food is fresh and delicious compared to store bought.If you cann garden yourself consider joining a CSA (community supported agricultural farm) where you buy shares and get food all season.Its a joy to teach your children how to garden and then the grandchildren as I do now.I learned from my Grandpa.
    Good points Bugbite and grow some citronella plants to keep the bugs away-smile !!-or feed the birds and they will eat the bugs for you.
    I am planting my indoor seeds now and yearning for spring!(we just had 9 inches of snow !) Happy Spring everyone. Arlene
    PSTonight on the National Geographic channel Preppers and then Apocalypse will be showing.

  4. As a retired Police Officer from both suburban and rural settings (Sheriff’s Deputy). I would have to agree with the information provided in this article and provided by Bugbite. Just as with the security aspect of prepping, Training IS required in order to be efficient in the task. My recommendation to those “wise ones” planning a vegetable garden, is and will require learning the skills, and then putting them into action. Many claim that they just don’t have a ‘green thumb’. I could remind you that those considered by you to have that green thumb, acquired the skills and took the time it takes to learn to be good or even great producers of a renewable food source. As a young boy, I cant remember ever buying fresh vegetables from a store. Mom always said ” we can grow our own”. I have let that memory of “growing our own”, be a life’s lesson.

    Bugbite… Good Job..You got MY vote re: this contest… Great information and history lesson too!

  5. My grandparents were gardeners, my mother was a gardening fanatic, and I guess I came by it honest. I only have a small patch in the back yard but it produces more greens and broccoli then two of us can eat.

    I “garden” the sun too. My solar panels produce more power then we use. It’s there to harvest so why not?

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