During World War Two it was referred to as a ‘Victory Garden’. A vegetable garden, especially a home garden, planted to increase food production during a war. Also called ‘War Gardens’, or food gardens for defense. Back during World War 2 you would see these gardens in private residences and sometimes public parks. If you’ve been keeping up with the geopolitical situation in the middle east, relations between the world super powers is at an all time low since cold war days. You might agree with me that the time has come to bring back the Victory, or HardTimes, Garden, again.
An acre of land, without going too heavily into debt, is the best investment a family can make. Did you know that two people farming one acre of ground, working forty hours a week, can feed twenty-four people? We who garden need to think nowadays of emphasizing the vegetables that will get you through a period of hard times. Most of us who think the way I do believe that food will soon become more expensive (heck, it already is) if not downright nearly impossible to find. What then? Plus, the economy is not doing that well with inflation, the hidden tax, creating excessive prices, making store-bought food almost out of the question for many people. The economy is not doing very well, folks, this despite mainstream media and Wall Street’s false reporting.
I know that many of us in Maine have a garden. I see them as I drive the roads. I wish I saw more. We ought to think about how to use every square foot wisely, and we need to grow what can be called ‘survival’ vegetables. At our homestead deep in the Maine woods we live on eighteen acres, about four of which is cleared. Of that cleared area we keep some livestock and we are gardening on a quarter acre, including two small homemade greenhouses. This is only our fourth year here, so we are fine-tuning our vegetable selections carefully. But above all, the most important vegetables need to fit two criterion: They need to be a soup ingredient, and they need to store well.
With that in mind here is my list of Hard Times vegetables: Potatoes, onions, leeks, carrots, garlic, dry beans, tomatoes, cabbage, kale, rutabaga, turnip, parsnip, celery (a perennial), more beans, plus wheat. With these vegetables you can create practically an endless variety of soups.
The idea and goal is to plant enough of these vegetables to carry you for a year. From this list you can make many an interesting soup. Last year we grew almost a hundred tomato plants from which we make a sauce. The cabbage is used to make sauerkraut. You can never have enough beans, and we don’t. That is one area we need to improve – growing more beans. Beans are good in soups, and great baked. I am very content with baked beans and homemade bread for a meal. At present we buy rice to supplement, but we purchase it in bulk.
In Russia, the government encourages people to grow vegetables instead of lawns. In America many local governments forbid people to grow vegetables in their yard. Go figure. With a few 2 x 6’s eight feet long, you can make yourself a simple raised bed garden. With this arrangement, you would not need a rototiller to dig up the ground. With a bed 30 inches by 8 feet you can grow enough salad greens to feed the average family. If you put two of these beds side by side you could even grow enough garlic to last a year in the second bed. If you went an extra step and covered the two beds, those salad greens will last till the first of January. Yes, even here in Maine.
You will need vitamins, and kale is one of the healthiest foods around. And it loves the cold weather. At minimum include this cruciferous vegetable at least three times a week. Even better is four to five times a week. We are growing several vegetables in this family, including cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage, although only kale is on our ‘Hard Times’ list.
The time is right now to begin a Victory or Hard Times Garden. With a few tools, a few packages of seeds, and some time, you can raise more food than you will know what to do with.