Even if you have a small budget or a small yard, you can still start a small garden. A victory garden is a way to prepare your family for a future time of need.
Originally started during World War II, a victory garden was meant to provide fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs as a means to prevent a food shortage. Today many people want to make a victory garden in order to have a budget-friendly garden at home.
There are many benefits to having a small garden. For starters, you’ll be able to grow fresh fruits and vegetables regardless of your household budget.
A small garden can provide ample food for canning and storage to ensure your family has food for the colder months.
Should a natural disaster or emergency arrive, you’ll feel more confident about having food for your family during these types of scenarios where food shortages may falter.
If you’re thinking about starting a victory garden, then you’ll enjoy this guide to a beginner victory garden. I’m going to share everything you need to know to grow a small garden that will help your family store food in case of an emergency.
Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Victory Garden
A few basics you need to know about starting a vegetable garden. Understanding and using these tips will help you have a better garden and better food.
The most important thing to know about starting a vegetable garden is that you will need good soil. Maybe you already have good soil – you won’t really know unless you do a soil test.
The test will let you know what nutrients you should add. It’s important to have good soil! If you don’t your vegetable harvests will be smaller overall. And the vegetables themselves will be smaller as well.
At the very least, most gardens need to have some good compost added to them. If you are low on money, add the compost ONLY to the rows you are going to plant.
There will be no need to add compost to the soil where the pathways are going, unless you want to build up your whole garden. If you can afford this, it is definitely best.
But if money is tight, just add compost to the planted rows.
Wondering whether to start seeds or get seedlings at the garden center? How close are you right now to the gardening season? If less than a month, consider buying seedlings. Peas, radishes, lettuces, carrots can still be planted with seed right in the garden.
But for cabbage, broccoli, etc you are probably better off just buying the seedlings at the garden supply.
Siting Garden for Sun
You’ll want to review your yard to find the best spot to grow your victory garden. Where s the sunniest spot?
Perhaps your back yard is too shady or you don’t have a lot of room. There are a few ways to get around this.
You can opt to plant your fruits and veggies among your flower garden, or plant in your front yard if that’s the sunniest spot in your yard.
Even a small area can be used to start a Victory garden. Look how closely all those vegetables are planted. And they look so healthy!
If you’re short on space, you can opt for window boxes for your victory garden. You’ll just need to find the window spot that gets the most sunlight to ensure ample growth of fruits and vegetables.
Some people have used their rooftops to start a victory garden, too. The options are truly endless, you’ll just need to see where the sun shines for at least six hours of the day to ensure ample growth of fruits and vegetables.
What Food to Grow in a Beginner’s Victory Garden
What food to grow in your vegetable garden is totally up to you. But, you should really give it some thought. The easiest way to figure out what to grow is to figure out what your family likes to eat.
Also, does your family eat a lot of one or two particular vegetables? Because, if at all possible, those are the ones you should be growing!
It’s important to plant only what you know your family will eat. There is not point in planting a row of beans if your family will not eat them.
Here are some common vegetables that are easy to grow:
Potatoes are one of the most common foods on dinner plates around the country. They are easy to grow – you can grow them in the ground or in deep containers.
Dig a hole and cut a potato into two, making sure each half has at least 2 “eyes”, better yet 3. Drop them in the hole and cover with soil.
The only thing you need to do is keep soil built up around the base of the plant. This is called “hilling” and you should hill each plant at least 3 times during the growing season.
Here’s a good link all about how to grow potatoes.
The only thing you need to grow nice long straight carrots is some good soil and no rocks. If there are rocks in the carrot patch, you will get misshapen deformed carrots.
Plant carrots in the ground or in a container at least 12 inches deep. If you have old plastic totes, drill some holes in the bottom for drainage and plant carrot seed in them!
No need to plant in a row, just thin the carrots as they grow. Try to plant seed far enough apart from each other, but thin those that need it.
Lettuce and Salad Greens
Everyone likes lettuce, right? If your family eats a lot of salads plant a good amount of lettuce. Don’t plant all your seed at one time!
Instead, plant seed every 2 weeks; this way you will never have too much lettuce at one time. But you will have enough lettuce to last all season long.
Other greens you may want to grow are spinach and chard. Spinach likes to grow in cooler weather, so plant some seed as soon as you can.
Chard will grow and taste fresh all season long. It even tastes better after it gets a bit of frost. You can harvest just a few chard leaves and let the main plant just keep growing.
If your family likes beans, try growing Runner Beans. These are also called pole beans; they grow vertically. Because these beans love to climb, pole beans are perfect for small gardens.
Make some teepees from sticks or tree limbs and plant seeds around the base of the sticks. Before long the bean vines will climb to the top and you will be enjoying lots of fresh beans.
A row this size of Runner Beans will give you a LOT of beans. If you want enough for fresh eating only, a family of four would probably need 3 of these teepee setups.
These are just a few choices for vegetables to grow in your Victory Garden. Plant what your family enjoys; harvest the fresh vegetables and cook for dinners.
Did you plant more than you can eat fresh? Then, start preserving! Freezing is the easiest way to preserve fresh greens, peas, beans and carrots. Here is a link with lots of Preserving food information.
Caring for Your Victory Garden
During the summer heat, your beginner victory garden may need to be watered frequently. It’s best to plant your small garden near a water source.
This could be a space where you’re able to walk and pour water from a water bucket or access with an outdoor hose. Watering your garden 15 minutes every morning should be enough.
Water in the morning instead of in the middle of the day. This will help keep the soil cooler.
Make sure that you position your victory garden in a way that it gets the necessary six hours of sunshine as well as use a soil that helps retain moisture.
Your victory garden will need to be weeded every so often. I suggest you find the roots of any weeds that are popping up near your fruits and veggies growth.
You will find that one hour a week of hoeing and weeding your beginner Victory Garden will be all it needs. As long as you do one hour a week, or get your kids to, your garden will be weed free.
You’ll want to use a sharp knife or garden hoe to cut the roots of any weeds near your victory garden. When you’re tilling the soil to prepare it for seeds, make certain that you don’t disturb the weed seeds as that can cause an eruption in weeds growing in your small garden.
Another option to help with the weeding of your victory garden is to place mulch around your plants.
This will deter weeds from growing up near your fruits and vegetables so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time weeding in your small garden.
If you do have some weeds that slip through the mulch or start to take over your victory garden, remember to pull them when they’re wet. After rainfall, the weeds are easier to pull up out of the ground so that you get the weed plus roots to keep the weeds from growing back.
These are just some of my tips for a beginner victory garden. Now is the time to look into your growing zone to see when the best time to start your victory garden is.
Having a small garden at home will ensure that you’re prepared in case of any emergency that causes a disruption in the food supply.
If you have children, let them help. Show them how (and what!) to weed. Let them help with watering. Get them interested in the garden and they will love to help pick all the food.
As you continue forward in this new chapter of growing fruits and veggies, you’ll want to learn more about harvesting your food and canning vegetables for long,term storage.
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