The coronavirus pandemic is changing life as we know it, and many Americans are using their sudden surplus of spare time at home to pick up new hobbies. Now that the weather is nicer a popular trend from the World War II era is resurfacing, Victory Gardens.
Nicky and Dave Schauder, owners of Permaculture Gardens, have been growing their own food for many years, and know all the tricks and tips beginners and expert gardeners need to know to start their very own Victory Garden.
Back in 1918 during the outbreak of the Spanish flu and fighting in World War I, over 5 million gardens had been created in backyard lots, public spaces, rooftops, and other atypical places in the United States.
And now, with much of the world at war with the coronavirus and that spirit of wanting to do your part towards a collective good, is the same spirit in which the first victory gardens were developed.
There are three key things to remember when growing food in West Michigan:
- Soil - Prepare your garden beds by building up layers instead of tilling it every season. This technique is called “lasagna gardening” and it is simply using cardboard as your base weed layer, adding layers of manure (if you have it), topsoil, mulch, compost and straw at the very top. This way you don’t disturb the ecosystem below ground that is going to support the ecosystem above ground. When you till, you kill the beneficial life underground. Plus building your soil from the ground up is much easier than tilling the dirt
- Diversity - You can ensure success in your garden by diversifying what you are growing. That way, it attracts less insect pressure and ensures that you have consistent success in your garden. Right now you can start carrots, beets, onions, cucumbers, peas, and radishes in Michigan, and soon hot weather crops like tomatoes, okra, beans, and summer squash. We also recommend including some perennials like strawberries or rhubarb in your garden since they will come back year after years
- Weather - It’s important to know the planting window of your crops, which is based on the minimum and maximum temperatures that your plants like to determine what is the best time to plant them outside. Don’t plant spring crops, like lettuce and broccoli in the summer, because they will taste bitter and flower. Instead rotate them into your gardens in the fall after your summer crops are slowing down their production so they can grow in their preferred temperature.
In response to COVID-19, Permaculture Gardens is doing a 30-day free trial for their garden mentoring program, Grow-It-Yourself. The offer ends at midnight, so register at growmyownfood.com/free-trial.