How to Grow a Victory Garden

Senior man selecting vegetables for harvest in vegetable garden
Gary John Norman / Getty Images
Overview
  • Total Time: 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $20 to $50

Victory gardens emerged during World Wars I and II as a way to minimize demand on an overburdened public food system. Citizens were encouraged to grow fruits and vegetables, so more of the food coming from farms and processors could be shipped overseas to soldiers. Nowadays, many people grow victory gardens as a form of self-reliance. The idea is to cultivate your own food, so you have control over how it is grown and how much you pay for it. Are you ready to plant your own victory garden? Here's what you will need and the steps to follow to plan your garden.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Hoe
  • Trowel
  • Gardening gloves
  • Watering can

Materials

  • Plants or seeds of your choosing (suitable for your growing area)

Instructions

  1. Decide Where You'll Plant Your Garden

    A sunny patch in the backyard is an obvious choice for a victory garden, but it's not the only option. Window boxes, containers, and even rooftops can be utilized with great success. Are you short on space? Consider working in edible plants around your existing flowers and shrubs.

    Are you stuck with a shady backyard? Then, think about planting your victory garden in the front yard. Many fruit and vegetable plants are actually quite attractive, so there's no need to give up curb appeal. Plus, front yard gardens are becoming common in some neighborhoods. And even if they aren't yet sprouting up your neighborhood, you could start the trend. Just make sure you follow local ordinances.

    No space to garden? See whether there are any community gardens in your town. Or consider asking a friend whether you can garden on their land in exchange for a cut of the harvest.

  2. Determine Your Growing Zone

    The USDA hardiness zones provide a guide for what will grow in different climates. You will find the appropriate growing zone(s) listed on seeds, seedlings, and plants. So once you know your zone, this will allow you to choose plants that are suited to your specific growing conditions and increase your chance of success.

  3. Pick Your Plants

    Focus on the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you eat regularly to make the biggest impact on your grocery bill. Are you new to gardening? Then, start with plants that are easy to grow. Do you like to keep things low maintenance? Then, include lots of perennial foods, so you'll have less to plant next year. Whether you choose seeds or young plants comes down to your preference, as long as they're suitable for your growing zone.

  4. Shop for Supplies

    Catalog companies are usually the cheapest source for seeds and plants. Place your order early, and they will ship everything out when it's time to get plants in the ground. If you need soil amendments, those are typically best purchased locally to save on shipping fees.

  5. Study Up

    While you're waiting for spring to arrive, pick up some gardening books from the library, and learn everything you can about gardening. Also, check to see whether there is a master gardener program in your area and how you can consult with one. Ask at your local garden center or community college about classes, seminars, and people you can talk to about starting a garden. If you're a beginner gardener, a class can open your eyes to many common gardening issues.