Special to the Record
The Victory Garden was created during First and Second World Wars to help people supplement their food shortages. During times of war, there was a lack of people to plant crops, unreliable trucking, gas rationing and shortages in the supply chain. And those foods that did appear on the shelves were overpriced, and could only be bought with ration cards and limited funds.
Instead of relying on others to provide food, the governments in many countries encouraged everyone to plant their own garden. We have experienced similar conditions with the pandemic, closed borders and lockdowns. With so much time on our hands and nowhere else to go, many people focused on gardening as a hobby, which has become very popular over the last two years. Now with the cost of food and housing increasing, perhaps there is even a greater need to grow our own food.
You don’t have to be an expert to start gardening. Everyone starts as a beginner and we all learn by trial and error. What you need is sunshine (preferable six hours), soil, water and fertilizer. You can plant in containers, raised beds or if you have the space, garden beds. Make sure you have good drainage.
Start with easy to grow vegetables and fruits such as: beets, beans, cabbage, kohlrabi, peas, kale, turnips, lettuce, spinach, garlic, Swiss chard, parsnips, carrots, onions and herbs; and fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
When planning your garden, be aware of planting plants with similar water and light conditions and ‘companion’ planting. Group plants according to their specific needs, not what you think looks good, and you will have better success. For example: great pairings – tomatoes and basil, corn and bean, carrots and onions, etc. while some plants are toxic to each other, like tomatoes and potatoes. They are many good websites and gardening books that can assist you… and maybe join a gardening group (other gardeners love to share their knowledge and their harvest.)
You can learn how to grow your plants from seed, or if you don’t have room for seed trays or you want to make it easier on your self, start with ‘vegetable starts.’ Most nurseries have a selection of vegetables and fruit already started and you just need to put them in the garden or containers. Just be careful with our weather while we are still experiencing frost, make sure you don’t put them in the ground too early. Some plants can tolerate the cold and others have to have both the day and nighttime temperatures warm.
Besides growing food that tastes better, gardening improves your sense of well being. Being grounded to plants, and their needs while socializing with others, gets you out of your head and all the worries. By focusing on growing, you become less stressed and more relaxed – plus you get food and gain a sense of accomplishment.
We can’t control the world, governments, climate change or the environment… but we can somewhat control what happens in our own back yard. Becoming self reliant gives us the confidence to endure what life throws at us and make us more resilient. Go ahead, give it a try.
Ellen Presley is the owner of Anderton Nursery, at 2012 Anderton Rd., Comox. Visit andertonnursery.ca