How to Start Your Own Victory Garden

Victory Gardens are planting hope across the country almost one hundred years after their initial emergence. 

With more and more people getting connected to nature and growing their own food, the victory garden has become an opportunity for gardeners of all ages to soak up some and dig in the dirt.  With increasing populations affected by food deserts, it is only human nature to cling to what brings us comfort and joy.

Planting a victory garden will be good for your mind, body, and soul. 

A Brief History of Victory Gardens

During both World War I and World War II, citizens were urged by the U.S. Government to plant Victory gardens as a measure to avoid food shortages nationwide. This sense of volunteerism boosted morale as more and more Americans planted these symbols of perseverance. 

The “war garden movement” first surged due to a combination of the food crisis in Europe and in an effort for citizens to help shoulder the load placed upon American farmers, who would now be tasked to feed America and its allies overseas. Citizens were encouraged to “sow the seeds of victory” by planting, growing, harvesting, and storing the fruits and vegetables of their labor. Any available spaces that could successfully produce crops were used to tend a victory garden, including parks, backyards, and empty lots. 

Remembering the incredible success of the crop yielding from WWI, nearly 1.45 million quarts of canned fruits and vegetables, the efficient and bountiful victory gardens made their reappearance in WWII as the United States declared its entrance into the war.

As wartime drew to an end, victory gardens became a symbol of independence and self-sufficiency. Whether it be a hundred years ago or today, these victory gardens have stood the test of time: their magic bringing a sense of security and hope to all who plant one (or several).

Photo courtesy of USDA National Agriculture Library

Why It’s Great That They’re Back

We believe at Good Dirt that “time spent gardening is good for the soul.” Victory gardens can truly serve as a victory for you, too. 

Home gardening, in particular, is on the rise. Through growing your own produce, you know exactly where your food is coming from – because you harvested it yourself! This accomplishment is one to be celebrated. It is an opportunity for just you, or you and your family, to learn and grow, together. 

This therapeutic activity gives you a chance to reconnect with the earth. Quite literally you will go back to your “roots,” starting fresh with this victory garden. Enjoy the fresh air – the sunlight caressing your face. The honesty of being yourself, surrounded by seeds you are working so hard to nurture, teaching you along the way. Slowing down and breathing, good and deep. Besides the excitement of the fruit and vegetables to be harvested, soak in and live in the moment during the process as well. Your mental health matters, and this is but a stepping stone in getting you where you want to be. 

A Few Things You Should Know Before Getting Started

Knowing what you’re getting into is the first step in sowing a victory garden. Below, we have compiled a list to help you avoid frustration by seeing an overview of tips to help jumpstart a successful beginning in the journey of planting and nurturing your own victory garden. 

  1. Find a Useable Space

Taking inspiration from the American citizens who planted victory gardens during the WWI and WWII eras, the versatility of where victory gardens can be planted are a myriad of places if you don’t have a space readily available in a backyard. Draw from your creativity and resourcefulness in making the most of what you have to work with already, like hanging baskets, window boxes, vertical planters and walls, raised beds or container gardens. These victory gardens can be as big or as small as you like. Be sure to plan ahead to know the amount of soil you’ll need based on what plants or seeds you choose to grow.

Determining the amount of soil you need comes from measuring the length, width, and depth. The easiest way to calculate is by finding an online calculator. Some examples include:

Good Dirt’s Potting Mix contains 2 cu ft, which is 60 quarts and 0.074 cubic yards. 

  1. Choose Your Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs based on your growing zone

We recommend choosing produce that you eat regularly, which will spare expenses at the grocery store and won’t go to waste because of your consumption and preservation of it. As this is the start of your victory garden, it will be beneficial to begin with what will be easy to grow, whether starter plants or seeds, and knowing if they are annuals (planted every year), biennials (lives two years), or perennials (comes back every year). These categories can change from zone to zone.

To maximize the potential of the victory garden, knowing your hardiness zone will aid you in determining which plants will thrive best in your specific location.

  1. Gather Your Supplies

Let’s get prepared. Collect your plant and seed babies from a local supplier or order online. Next, determine the soil of your choosing. We recommend Good Dirt’s Potting Mix or soil conditioner if planting in-ground. After planting, safeguarding the garden by maintaining its health is the utmost priority. Our trusted Potting Mix and Soil Conditioner will provide the structure and starter nutrients for your plants to get a healthy start and thrive. 

For you plants to thrive and for your garden’s soil to live you will need to feed your plants with an organic based plant food that has a low salt index, such as Good Dirt Plant Food.  It is also a great idea to do research for yourself to determine best crops for your climate.

Victory gardens serve as a way to gather naturally grown foods and produce, enjoy a therapeutic activity, and reconnect with nature – and yourself. You will get your hands dirty, and it takes hard work and determination, but the payoff is worth every second spent bettering yourself and the earth you nurture. Live sustainably and eat sustainably by having your personal farm to table fruits, vegetables, and herbs right in your very own victory garden. And if you have a surplus harvest, share with your friends and family or those less fortunate in your community.

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