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Garden like you can’t go to the store…

June 2, 2008

I know I can still go to the store, but I can’t buy heirloom seeds that were handed down to me, or even high quality seeds, for that matter.  I try to conduct my gardening like the store may not always be there, that way I won’t be in for such a shock.  Plant a variety of things your family will eat, and a little more than you think you may need.  That way if something fails, you might just have enough.  Look for varieties that produce small amounts for an extended period, and also strains that put on a concentrated crop, just for preserving.

Victory Garden logo from Victory Garden Supplement
specially written for The New Garden Encyclopedia, 1943


Objectives in Victory Gardening – from the Supplement
To repeat, the result most wanted from a home garden is a long-season supply of a variety of food crops richest in vitamins, minerals, and other strength-giving materials, most of which can be consumed fresh, when they are most nutritious and delicious.  Next there should be planned surpluses of crops that can be dried, canned, put up in other ways, or, at the end of the season, stored in pits or cool cellars for use during the winter.

Crops should be chosen, first, on the basis of nutritive value and the probability of shortages; next, they should be those that give the largest yields per unit of space, time, and effort; third, they should be easy to grow and of a reliable type – the Victory Garden is not the place for experiments or for fussy delicacies; finally, an attempt should be made to have sufficient variety to please the tastes of all in the family.  Location, climatic, and soil conditions will naturally have to be considered, for nothing is gained by trying to make a particular crop grow where the circumstances are unfavorable. 

For smoky and congested districts of Chicago, the Metropolitan Area Committee suggests carrots, kale, beets, turnips, collards, Swiss Chard, mustard greens, leaf or Cos lettuce, radishes, bunch onions grown from sets, endive and parsley.  In more open outlying districts, there can be added tomatoes, lima and snap beans, cabbage, parsnips, broccoli, kohlrabi, peas, peppers, spinach and salsify.

… gardening, in difficult times must be resourceful, ingenious, economical, and more than ever efficient.  Ways must be found to accomplish more with less, to get the most out of every seed packet, every implement, every bushel of harvest, and every half hour spent in the garden… .

 Whew – that is almost scary, those words should be on the forefront of everyone’s mind today.

Here’s what went on today – at least some of what went on.

Nap time for the milk cows and the saddle horse.


We try to match the colors of our pets.


This is what happens when you have a camera with you on a farm – no animal was injured in this photo shoot.

How’s that for a NO SHOOTING sign?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2008 3:01 am

    GREAT photos!!! Laughed out loud at the dog and calf.
    I was in our local Agway yesterday and they were virtually sold out of seeds and garden items. Said they had never seen anything like it. The revival of home gardening may be the only positive of the current food and fuel situation.

  2. Kristen permalink
    June 3, 2008 4:57 am

    I have a ways to go on being a good gardener….I am just hoping a couple of the plants that I planted make it.. I am envious of your pasture…I can’t believe how great the grass looks. I hope we can get ours to look that good one day. Our property was bulldozed before we bought it and just grew back with weeds. The ground is so hard I am not sure where to start with getting into better shape…love the matching animals..:-)

  3. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    June 3, 2008 6:13 am

    Threecollie, thanks, we were worried that that kitten was going to get stomped. We moved them from our haybarn to a safer… area, and they spent the whole day trying to make new friends. The calf wasn’t so sure it wanted to be friends, that little kitten got out of there fast, and decided to just hang out with the dog the rest of the afternoon.
    As for the gardening phenomenon, that’s good that people are starting to take notice – but supply could easily outstrip demand. At least there is a bright spot in this whole crisis.

    Kristen, it takes a long time to learn gardening, because there are so many variables. That’s too bad about the bulldozing, but the land will heal. I wish all our pasture looked like that, where the milk cows are. We have poor areas too, it gets better slowly, so have patience. Rotating the animals has helped immensely, but it is still a patience inducing exercise. Some friends of ours had good luck with meat goats to beat back the brush and gradually the grass came in good enough for cattle and horses.

  4. June 3, 2008 6:20 am

    Delighted to see threecollie’s comment on seed sales! Did laugh out loud at the pic of matching animals – those two little kittens are adorable!

    I wish more folks would pay attention to the Victory Garden advice to plant for a steady supply, instead of excess. People think that it has to be a huge effort, and it doesn’t. A little at a time also works.

  5. June 3, 2008 9:14 am

    I agree, the animals have to match or at least complement one another (hence our cats are orange and black or some combination of the two). What fashion-e-ta’s we are:) Your grass is amazing!!!!

  6. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    June 3, 2008 9:26 am

    Hayden, I hear it is the same with poultry, there hasn’t been a shortage yet, but supplies are tight. I know some of the seed catalogs I order from had their highest sales this year, and as I perused the catalogs this winter, I was alarmed at the varieties that were listed: sorry, crop failure, try again.
    I agree, that one little piece of advice is most often ignored. We are constantly filling in gaps, with small plantings of whatever will fit, never letting much space go to waste, and ensuring a steady supply of something to eat fresh.

    Linda, I’m jealous of your cat colors, our best looking cats have run off or… , when someone offered us a new cat last year, it turned out to be a another Siamese. The little Siamese kittens always look like buckskins or grullas. The Siamese had black kittens, and the black one had Siamese, not quite as colorful as yours.
    I WISH all our grass looked like that. The milk cows have to keep the barnyard/orchard areas eaten down, and this time of year it is hard for them to keep up, as you can see.

  7. tansy permalink
    June 3, 2008 10:41 am

    those kittens are so adorable!

    i’ve been feeling the push to grow as much as i can for us this year, hence the reason i’m attempting to grow for the livestock too.

    we’ve just tilled a huge area to plan corn and pumpkins. bye-bye lawn! next month, we get sheep and fence in the remaining portion of lawn (front lawn facing ‘the public’) to ‘mow’ the grass. our subdivision neighbors (previously corn and soy bean fields) are going to really freak as we are already odd with our chickens and goats in the back yard!

    sometimes though, i feel like we are overextending ourselves because s many local people hound us to share our wealth. i’m just trying to keep up with feeding us at this point and it’s hard to say no to others to the point that we go w/o to sell our goods defeating the purpose of raising/growing our own (such as eggs).

  8. June 3, 2008 10:51 am

    Hard to keep up… I can imagine! It looks like they’re swimming in that photo!

  9. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    June 3, 2008 1:41 pm

    Tansy, these are our newly orphaned kitties, they tried to nurse on our big pup, he looked so embarrassed! They are meeting their cousins and learning to be cats in a herd. Or I guess that would technically be a pride.

    I know what you mean about the neighbors, ours don’t like the milk cows tethered on the “lawn” look either. One asked if we put tags on the calves so the cows would know which one was their baby? We told him, “that won’t work cuz them dumb cows caint read!!” ” Plus they can only count to 8!” He didn’t know why we were laughing so hard…

    It’s funny you should mention having to feed the neighborhood. This weekend DH was “cleaning” and found our old Y2K list dated 1996, and it brought back a flood of memories about our neighbor who is a social worker. He and his wife banded everyone in the subdivision (used to be a riding stable/farm) together, except us of course, and then they approached and proceeded to tell us that we were to keep on growing and stockpiling food, and they would decide who was to get what and how much! Meanwhile they would be content to go on their merry wasteful ways and we were to toil on their behalf. They also told us that the smartest thing they ever did was to buy next to a farm, where they could get food if they ever needed it. Needless, to say, you can guess that relations are still strained with our neighbors!
    It reminded me of Hickory Hills problem with his pushy neighbor – sometimes you just have to say NO.

    I think you are doing the right thing, and you need to stick to your guns about “sharing”. Our neighbors would be in for a big surprise if they tried to strong arm us into sharing, as we have plans of our own. Only one family has a garden, and they are new, and weren’t a part of the original group. We would most likely help them. Sadly, when I say subdivision, I think the smallest place is 1 acre in size. Every family could be growing a good portion of their food. One place has the most beautiful south facing slope you could imagine – they spend hours mowing it, every weekend!

    For us, it has been such a relief to quit selling to demanding consumers at markets and restaurants. We have now put ourselves first – and it feels good. I think I may be overextending myself this season, I have changed my bare fallow plans and am also planning on using our second greenhouse for winter crops. I hope I can pull it all together.
    BTW, I’m envious of your herbal knowledge 🙂

    Danielle, they are swimming today, if it quits raining, I might go out and take a pic of them. They are in a paddock that measures 50′ x 50′, at least with all this rain, I don’t have to pack them water – they are spoiled girls!

  10. June 3, 2008 5:40 pm

    Victory Garden offers great advice for any time, but particularly for these times. I had a similar Y2k experience with pushy neighbors. Amazing. Some people are just amazing at their brazenness. I told my neighbors that if they didn’t want to learn how to grow their own food, they should invest in some wild edible books. 😉

    Love the animal pics. TOO Cute!!

  11. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    June 3, 2008 8:25 pm

    Karen, most of the VG information has been forgotten, I’m glad to see more interest in people growing for their own needs, whether just for themselves or their livestock too! It will just cut down on the brazen neighbors. (Hopefully…) I’m sure when they see your garden they just can’t resist. That’s good advice on the wild edible books, although when my husband consficated some mushrooms last year from a trespasser, (he had the no trespassing sign in his back pocket) he said, “These are mine, I’ve been coming here for 15 years!” When we wildcraft, we leave some behind for “seed”, we have a steady stream of people taking what they think is theirs, and when they are all done, there is nothing left.

    Those kittens have adopted Trace – he is still nonplussed, and Trace has adopted the calf. So if I can’t find Trace, I know where to look.

  12. tansy permalink
    June 4, 2008 8:04 pm

    i can’t believe people took down the trespassing sign and picked your mushrooms. people have a lot of gall.

    and the neighbors ganging up on you? wtf?! time to invest in a ‘home security’ system operated by smith and wesson.

    my herbal knowledge isn’t so great, i still have so much to learn. if you want a great basic foundation, check out rosemary gladstar’s 10 lesson home course. you can work it at your own pace (it took me 3 years between kids to do it). between that and just reading and trying out stuff, i slowly gained the little i know today.

    on the flip side, i’m amazed at your gardening knowledge. my garden is sad and never produces what it truly should. i always feel like a failure at the end of the season!

  13. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    June 4, 2008 9:15 pm

    Tansy, people do have a lot of gall, we are hardly surprised anymore at the excuses people give. We have too much road frontage and we live too close to the National Forest. Even though our property is fenced and posted, they still help themselves.
    Our home security consists of those two “cute” very territorial dogs! We keep the gate closed and leave them loose. They are smart, if a car they don’t recognize slows down, they give their “people” bark, and we listen. Plus, we are well acquainted with the gentlemen, Smith and Wesson. You know, like I’ve got .38 reasons you should leave right now!
    As for the neighbors, we got a better plan than they could ever hope to get together, so we are not too worried.

    Thanks for the tip on the herbs, I use natives, but a perennial garden of herbs, I’m afraid would look like a huge weedpatch.

    On the gardening, I regret all the time I wasted planting dahlias – I still love them, but have let them all go. The year I didn’t dig them, was a turning point. I wish I had been a little older or more motivated when I was younger and I could have asked more ?? of my vegetable gardening mentors.
    Don’t feel bad about your garden efforts, you have small children and are trying to run a business – the important things get done. Last year I was sick and did not pick one single pea off of a 90′ row. It was at a busy time and no one else had the time to do it either. Stuff happens.

  14. June 12, 2008 3:59 pm

    I grew up on farm learning to garden whether I wanted to or not but the key is that it has stayed in me. I have gotten more and more into gardening as I’ve learned about seed saving and heirloom seeds. Once you learn to seed save, you can save extra seeds and hand THOSE to the greedy neighbors! VBEG! I have slowly been taking out more and more grass and making bigger and better gardening to help me and my family (5 kids). Also, I’ve developed an autoimmune disease and my own food I trust with my body, but I don’t trust purchased items. The tomato scare has reinforced my canning and dehydrating. MainlyGardening and TomatoMania are two yahoo groups that I love to support my learning since I am so far from family. They are wonderful to help learn to garden. They have become my mentors and how much better I am doing is just amazing — giving all credit to them. My website that I have and company exist because of the kindness and knowledge others have shared with me. I am humbled. I love the victory garden concept and have read on it and just love how it supported our society at that time. If only people would do it again…. Excellent insights!!

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