Ana Egge--"Johnny's Garden" (mp3)
What is a Victory Garden?
During World War I and World War II, the United States government asked its citizens to plant gardens in order to support the war effort. Millions of people planted gardens. In 1943, Americans planted over 20 million Victory Gardens, and the harvest accounted for nearly a third of all the vegetables consumed in the country that year. Emphasis was placed on making gardening a family or community effort -- not a drudgery, but a pastime, and a national duty.
Like most good ideas, someone else had already thought of reviving the Victory Garden before the idea ever entered my brain. So, I'll just do some promulgation: there is no better time to start a garden, and now you can do it for your country, too.
Yesterday, despite a chilly wind, I put in a few rows of peas and green beans in a bed that won't be needed for tomatoes and peppers for some time. I certainly felt strange out there with a hose in the middle of February, trying to soak those seeds. It's an experiment; I haven't tried to grow those kinds of early spring crops before, but I am excited to see how they do.
Today, I hope to plant all kinds of starter pots for tomatoes and peppers that I hope to put into the ground sometime in April. They can sit in moist soil covered with plastic wrap in the dining room window until the seedlings get hearty and firm. Probably, these should already be growing, but it does take a little effort to get everything together.
And, I've brought a large empty clay pot from outdoors that I'll use to start a kitchen herb garden which should flourish in a sunny window somewhere. I forget what all is in the packet I bought, but I think I'll be growing chives, basil, oregano, and parsley. You figure, if you buy this stuff in a grocery store, and you almost always have to buy more than you need, then you're spending at least a couple of bucks every time you need a fresh herb. With a kitchen herb garden, you get a pair of scissors and cut off what you need, and let the the plant grow back. When it's played out, you just clear out a space and plant some new seeds.
My gourmet reach this year is broccoli rabe. I have no idea if that stuff will grow here, and if it does, if it will grow decently or will be infested with bugs. But that stuff is awfully good and awfully expensive, so spending a buck and a half to see if anything will happen is a worthwhile risk, eh? I think I'll try to grow it on the deck to cut down on the bugs.
And when the onion bulbs come out (if they're not already out at Ace Hardware), I'll plant a ton of those. You're crazy if you don't at least plant green onions. They grow anywhere with very little effort and have so many uses.
I feel like Mr. Rogers, talking about this, by the way. But, most people don't have gardens.
At this point, total expenditure is about 12 bucks, all for seeds and a bit of potting soil. And here's the good new for you: not only are packets of seeds cheap, but they give you many, many more seeds than you would actually use unless you had a huge garden. Consequently, you can have seeds for the following plants for free:
Some of you may be wondering, as I do when I think real hard, how planting such a Victory Garden helps the country. I mean, if I grow my own stuff, then I'm not buying it from someone else, then they're not selling it, etc. When spring comes, I already buy a lot of my produce from a stand in East Ridge, in hopes of supporting local farmers, but let's face it, a lot of that stuff isn't local, unless you consider Florida local.
Maybe, as during WWII, if you provide some of these things for yourself, it frees up the other stuff to be used elsewhere. At the very least, growing some of your own produce contributes greatly, if done in mass, to a greener country and planet.
Certainly, it helps you, your psyche, your sense of purpose. And your kids, if you have them. And maybe that's the victory.
Kesang Marstrand and Ana Egge both have MySpace pages where you can hear more of their music.