A Note from Michael: This was originally written in April of 2008.
In response to the heavy impact of World War II on the U.S. economy, Americans were urged to grow a victory garden (also called a war garden) in 1943. The gardens were planted by about 20 million families and would eventually provide nearly half of the fresh produce consumed during this troubled time. On rooftops, in back yards and even in containers on front porches, Americans produced eight million tons of fruit, vegetables and herbs in their own households.
In 2008, we are once again taking part in a devastating war and once again our economy is in crisis. Our administration still seems oblivious to the profound financial problems with our country as thousands of hard working people are threatened with foreclosure.
New home sales have plummeted more than 26 percent since 2006 and more than 405,000 people lost their homes in 2007 alone. The seemingly never ending rise in the price of oil may be making oil companies record-breaking profits but it is pushing our country’s economy closer and closer toward another Depression.
The cost of nearly everything on the market these days has increased so much that many families are forced to do without the basic necessities in a vain attempt at making ends meet.
The situation may be complicated, but the average American does not want to understand the politics behind why they can’t afford to feed their families, they just want to eat. It is for this very reason that I offer this solution: Bring Back the Victory Gardens.
If you consider it for a moment, it makes perfect sense. Seeds are inexpensively purchased and with the power of the Internet at our disposal, seed exchanging can be done for just the cost of a stamp. I am personally growing a huge variety of heirloom tomatoes from seeds that I received through my local Freecycle mailing list as well as cucumbers, carrots, onions, green beans and several other easy-to-grow vegetables.
You might think that you need a large amount of space or a lot of money to grow your own vegetables, but I’m here to tell you that it does not have to cost much at all. So far this year I have spent less than $25 on my gardening endeavors and I could have actually done it for much less than that.
While I do have a good sized back yard, I am growing the majority of this year’s produce in containers in order to not only better educate myself about container gardening, but to conserve water as my state of Alabama has been in a state of drought conditions for two years now.
Grow what you use
As I mentioned previously, I am growing a lot of tomatoes this year. Tomatoes happen to be my favorite produce item and I go through several pounds a week. With the average price for a pound of tomatoes at about $2.00, you can imagine how much money I’ll be saving over the course of the year. The tomatoes that are not immediately used will be canned or frozen for use during the winter and early spring months, when others will be paying incredibly high prices for the anemic, pale and tasteless hot house tomatoes offered by the supermarkets during the off season.
If you are new to gardening, start small by picking just one or two of your favorite vegetables and growing them in a container. My tomatoes this year will be grown in 5-gallon buckets that I also acquired for free from Freecycle. If you have limited space, two or three container plants on your back porch will be easy and inexpensive to maintain and won’t take up much of your precious square footage either.
For an expenditure of less than $10.00, you could grow enough produce to feed you and your family throughout the season and for an average sized family of four, that could quickly equate to hundreds of dollars in savings over the course of the year.
It is an election year and the economy may be a primary issue in the stump speeches we see and hear all over the news, but while the politicians are busy talking it is time that we stop talking and get something done.