The New Victory Garden

Tomato

We’ve all seen and heard enough of the COVID-19 stuff these days, and I’m not here to follow that thread. However, I do live in Michigan where we have had some of the toughest restrictions since late February and continuing to the present. Our governor has placed restriction upon restriction and she has ordered more to continue until at least May 15, 2020. Throughout this period of time, people have had to be creative in finding ways to fill their time, while at home, but more importantly, in feeding their families.

We live on a farm and we have always had an abundant vegetable garden. My parents were born during the Great Depression and my dad, in particular, was raised on a dairy farm which he and his brother later co-owned. So, needless to say, I have never been without a means to provide food for myself or for my family. That said, Jeff and I did not always raise animals for meat or for milk due to lack of acreage at times. We did always try to have our own eggs and one time we raised two Jersey steers for beef in the freezer. At other times, we had meat chickens. But that was all rather sporadic.

Throughout the 33 years that we have been married, one thread has remained consistent: Have some sort of a vegetable and herb garden. I want to mention that flowers and shrubbery are a part of the growing craze, but not so much of an importance is placed upon them.

Today, with the fears and restrictions placed upon our country and the great state of Michigan, people are turning to gardening like it’s something novel. For many, I suppose, it is a novel idea.

I am very happy that I placed my seed orders with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Seed Savers early on before any of this COVID-19 stuff happened. I’m thankful that I saved seeds from last year’s garden that I forgot to buy with my seed orders this year, seeds such as acorn squash and cilantro. When I tried to place orders for those two items, I was dismayed to find out that I could no longer get them because the seed companies were either sold out, had huge waiting times for shipping, or were no longer selling to individuals this year but were only filling orders for commercial businesses. So much for the shallots that I also forgot to buy but really wanted to try growing for the first time. I substituted leeks instead.

Small business greenhouses were not allowed to operate in Michigan and larger stores had to tape off garden centers, therefore not allowing consumers to purchase seeds or plants during one of the most crucial times of the year for gardeners. Now some of those restrictions have been loosed, but to what damage? Do the greenhouse proprietors really have the time to now begin everything for the growing year? Maybe but doubtful. They’re really going to take a hit.

As are home gardeners unless they were able to locate seeds or plants elsewhere.

So, where am I going with all of this? I guess what I want to accentuate is the need for all of us to be a little (or a lot) more self-sufficient in many, many ways. Does that mean making our own clothes as my mother did for me and my five siblings? Maybe. Does that mean raising animals for meat and eggs? You might want to consider it if you are not a vegan and you have the land to do so.

Does that mean creating a Victory Garden for you and your family? You bet. If you don’t have a lot of space, you can always grow some things in pots on your back deck, in your yard, or on a patio. You can try hydroponics inside the house. And then there’s foraging for wild food. In the spring you can always find dandelions (greens and flowers, roots if you want to dig them) and sometimes mushrooms (make certain they are not poisonous; most aren’t but those that are can be deadly). In the summer, look for berries and wild herbs. In the fall, you can sometimes find great wild apples and other fruits.

I think people around northern Michigan and maybe around the country are thinking about preserving the garden produce this year more than they have in the recent past. When I went online and to the hardware store in town, I had difficulty finding canning lids. It appears that they keep selling out. Maybe they will have to put a limit on purchases for canning supplies as they have with toilet paper. Just kidding about the limits but serious about the canning lid craze.

To wrap up this long, rambling post, I do want to say that I am in no way complaining that people are buying up the gardening and home preserving stuff. On the contrary! I am excited to see that folks are beginning to really see the need for independence from the grocery stores. It’s time that we all work together to help each other grow good, organic foods for themselves whether that be in the form of vegetables and fruits or animal products – or both. I have been saying for some time that it is my desire to teach some younger women how to provide food for their families not only in the summer months but for the entire year. I hope that now I can interest some gals in learning more. Well, I can’t do a whole lot of mentoring until all of these restrictions are lifted in my state, but I can encourage them from afar.

So … Go, Go, Go! Let’s get those Victory Gardens going!

Published by Jeff and Rita

Rita is a wife, mother, homesteader, library branch manager, and freelance writer. She enjoys spending time in the garden and later preserving the harvest. Gardening, knitting, tending to chickens and other critters, and taking long summer walks are among her favorite activities. Jeff has had a long time love of waterfowl and gamebirds. He spends his time working part-time as a courier when he is not enjoying his collection of wild ducks and pheasants from around the world.

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