Our grandparents and great grandparents had wartime versions of Victory Gardens that served them well and helped their families thrive in uncertain times. The government endorsed these efforts and more before industrialized farming took over.
Lately we are hearing more and more about “Victory Gardens,” and I expect that will only gain momentum. For a variety of good reasons, everyone seems to be rediscovering the appeal of growing food and maybe tip-toeing into sustainability.
I love this!
I also see the idea ballooning in such a way that people are becoming discouraged almost as soon as they feel inspired. Lots of people are also beginning their adventure from a place of absolute terror.
In an environment of fear over rising food prices and broken supply chains, it’s easy to let something as natural and beautiful as home gardening fall into the category of obligation, panic, and unrealistic standards for success.
Let’s fix that.
Right here, today, with just a mindset shift, let’s reset. Before we write a single letter to a single lawmaker or even before we spend one dollar on grow lights or join any online forums trying to learn it all in one day, let’s rethink what a Victory Garden could possibly be, for you.
Victory could look like adding beauty, fragrance, creativity, and dimension to your life. Victory could be saving money by growing fancy herbs and better ingredients, just a little bit here and there. Victory might include just occasionally stepping aside from the bizarre supply chains we have created for ourselves or cultivating small, meaningful skills that build and compound on themselves every year. No need to be perfectly successful on your first try. Everyone fails. A lot.
Maybe victory for you would be making memories with your children and helping them see the natural world as a source of beauty and pleasure, and then one day helping them install their own gardens. Victory could be growing chemical free food more often, while at the same time rejecting stress and guilt over still buying average stuff from the store. It’s fine! Mix it up! You garden can be a supplement way before it is a substitute.
Victory is certainly discovering new ways to enhance your outdoor space, discovering a new hobby that keeps your body lifting and stretching and breathing fresh air, keeping your eyes off of electronics for a slice of each day. Victory is blanketing the earth with more trees, flowers, mulch, and foods. Victory is attracting and feeding all kinds of pollinators and wildlife. A very beautiful Victory Garden is one that encourages diversity.
Victory might be witnessing and immersing ourselves in the intricate, powerful, unstoppable Cycle of Life, participating in the seasons instead of complaining about them, being swept up in the life affirming wealth of daylight and the nitrogen rich snow and rainfall. Victory is learning to use kitchen scraps to feed your garden rather than overstuff the landfill. Victory is being part of the solution, in your own way, in your own time, with joy and freedom and confidence, rejecting fear.
I believe that working with fear, shame, or panic will not only kill your spirit but also at least stall your garden, maybe sabotage it completely. Your mindset matters. So get that sweet and level first. Rethink what a Victory Garden could be in your life, with your circumstances, needs, and cravings. What problems are you trying to solve? Where do your passions fall, naturally? There is a garden for you out there.
Please consider growing something that makes you authentically happy. I want you, if you haven’t already, to discover for what “Victory” means for you and how to use gardening to pursue that in uniquely pleasing ways.
There are hundreds of ways to be a Victory Gardener.
Far be it from me to discourage anyone from attempting a true, traditional, full-fledged Victory Garden that increases your family’s groceries and stocks your pantry for winter, the kind your great-grandmother probably mastered. That is certainly within reach if you have the space and the time to devote to it. And what a noble goal! But also, I believe these other, very different gardening goals are every bit as noble.
Bonus points, always, for not using chemicals on your garden. Double bonus points for using natural fertilizers and compost. Triple bonus points for sharing your bounty and staying true to yourself as you go.
Almost done with these thoughts.
My Grandpa gave me lots of gardening advice, and it was all good. But one thing bears repeating here:
“The best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow.” Spend time in your growing spaces, however large or small or weird or formal they are. Just be present, frequently. Watch, enjoy, pay attention, apply your considerable knowledge and creative energy there. It needs you as much as you need it. It will reward you by growing you right alongside it.
Let’s release that weirdo pressure to be the same kind of gardener as anyone else, friends. Let’s drop the fear and panic and just grow something. Anything. Nature will support us.
Life began in a Garden,
and Victory is our birthright