Growing New Things: Victory Gardens After The Covid Pandemic

By Nikki Tilley | May 27, 2021
Image by ZoiaKostina
by Nikki Tilley
May 27, 2021

Victory Gardens during the World War era were simply average vegetable gardens grown by average citizens. Coming in various shapes and sizes, they were grown on farms, rooftops, and in in backyards and containers. They weren’t much different than the edible gardens we still grow today. In fact, as we were all hit with the Covid pandemic last year, Victory Gardens made a comeback, this time as a way to fill time during quarantine while providing low cost, healthy food.

I have always tried to include edibles in the garden, even if it’s only a few things in a container. Some years I grow a lot, others just a little. Covid hasn’t changed that, but it did change what I grow – and why.

Exploring and Growing New Things

With Covid lurking around every corner, it became important for me to grow other types of produce, since going into stores of any kind was out of the question. I didn’t even feel comfortable stopping by roadside produce stands. I’ve taken favorably to curbside pickup of my groceries during this time, but there’s just some things on my list I don’t trust having others choose for me – my fruit or veggies.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to pick out a proper melon and let’s not even get started on bananas. I like mine firm and somewhat green, not half mushy. Things like this and other crops that I wouldn’t ordinarily grow, I’ll now try my hand at. The bananas, however, must wait until I feel comfortable enough to return to the store and choose my favorites since I don’t live in a region where I can grow my own fruit. I do have a hardy banana plant that is gorgeous, but alas, it doesn’t fruit. If ever it did, that would be a victory! Gardening, overall, hasn’t changed that much though.

I still grow all the usuals – tomatoes are a must have. Can’t forget peppers, though lately mine haven’t favored well. Always include cucumbers, squash and potatoes. Usually have onions and garlic handy, leaf lettuce too. I love me some kale, so that’s mixed in the ornamental garden somewhere. Hubby enjoys his radishes, so I like to grow a few of those. And I always have culinary herbs scattered throughout the garden:

There’s strawberries and blueberries growing every season. We have a cherry tree and mulberry.  

Since Covid I’ve added a few more things”¦ beans, pumpkins (mostly for the dog cause she loves them), beets for my husband (I hate them but willing to try the greens), broccoli, spinach, rhubarb, and Brussels sprouts which I have discovered are way better fresh picked. I’m adding more lessor known herbs for their medicinal properties and taking advantage of the benefits provided by many of my ornamentals, like echinacea and roses. I’ve even done the same for some of the weeds I would normally be cursing and fighting each season. I’ve learned to embrace them for their usefulness rather than fighting their presence. For instance, I’m leaving much of the chickweed now and harvesting this edible weed instead. Dandelions have always been welcome but now I’m also enjoying the benefits of plantain, purslane and woodsorrel.

All in all, I’d say that my concept of victory gardening has changed. I may still be growing vegetables (and fruit) but I’ve learned more about other edibles and herbal remedies too. Back in the day our ancestors relied on these plants not only for food but for their health”¦ Fast forward to today and Covid has certainly made us all think more about that.

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