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A New Vegetable Garden ... Victory Garden Popularity Soars

From the Helpdesk:

Have you noticed that it is more difficult to find seeds, seedlings, and other starts? When you shopped for tomato plants this season, were the varieties you wanted easy to find? I had to return twice to my nursery as supplies were very limited in this new age of victory garden planting and did not include the standard varieties, but instead had varieties I had never heard of. Since the shelter-in-place order went into effect, there has been a huge surge of interest in home vegetable gardening. The Help Desk has been receiving a lot of questions from beginning gardeners and has provided guidelines and suggestions to those who want to start growing vegetables for the first time in their garden. As experienced gardeners, choosing what vegetables and how many of them to plant may come as second nature; however, these choices may be a complete mystery to new gardeners. This article might provide some food for thought next time you receive a question from a new gardener, whether it be a neighbor or family member

A sheltering-in-place family emailed the Help Desk and wanted advice as to how to take advantage of several raised box gardens at the side of their house. This is the first time they are growing vege­tables in these boxes which total 151 square feet. They’ve already topped the raised beds with potting mix and mixed it into the existing soil. They need a plan, and are asking for help! What vegetables should they plant, how many, and how should they space the plants in the six boxes? What would you tell a new vegetable gardener?

Here is what the Help Desk told the family. Growing your vegetables can be so rewarding and they often have much better qual­ity and taste than store-bought ones! There is no magic trick to planting vegetables, but there are a few tips that will make the process easier.

First, be sure to grow things that you like to eat! It’s more rewarding when your plants yield enough produce for you to have more than a few microgreens, so factor that in, as well. The most popular and the easiest vegetables to grow in a home garden are tomatoes, zucchini, and other squash, beans, and leafy vegetables like Swiss chard. To increase the probability of a successful victory garden, buying starter plants for tomatoes (i.e., sweet 1 million, early girls, celebri­ties, etc.) and zucchinis are rec­ommended. Beans (i.e., blue lake bush, climbing beans,etc.) are best planted from seed and should be soaked a few hours before planting.

As the planting process can be a little hard on a plant, be sure to plant them in the early evening or on a cool day and to water thor­oughly! Then make sure they get regular watering.

Circling back to our sheltering-in-place family and their raised bed boxes, the Help Desk gave one answer to the question of “how much”: one box of tomato (two to three tomato plants of different varieties), two boxes of zucchini (two zucchini plants in each), and a box of bean plants. Later in the summer, once the bean plants stop producing beans, the family can replant the box. Talk about getting two for the price of one (box)!

The last Help Desk tip: too much love is definitely possible, so don’t over-fertilize. Soils contain all of the ingredients plants need to thrive, and it is best to only fertil­ize a few times during the summer.

The following resources should get the beginning gardener more about individual vegetables and how to grow and maintain healthy plants.

How to Start a Vegetable Garden by MGAC Birgitt Evans

Vegetable Gardening Basics by Pam Geisel  

This information will help spread Victory Gardens far and wide! One neighbor sees a Victory Garden and starts one of their own and so on ...