What’s a Victory Garden? We’d heard the expression, but we’d never given it much thought, except as an expression of triumph of woman over nature. After all, anyone who’s ever planted, nurtured, and harvested a successful vegetable garden knows it’s a war:You vs. Weather. You vs. Rabbits. You vs. Cutworms. You vs. Poaching Neighbors. (You know the ones: “Oops! We thought you were gone for the summer! We didn’t want the blueberries to go to the birds!” Of course, you never go anywhere and were just out picking up the dry cleaning.)
The term “Victory Garden” comes from the Second World War, when fresh produce was in short supply. Patriotic, scurvy-fearing citizens dug up their yards and planted beans, corn, cucumbers—whatever their climate zone would bear. At harvest time they canned and preserved their bounty.
If you have any room at all (a yard, a deck, a rooftop, a windowsill) this is an ideal project for you and your family. Think of this as a fight for victory over your pocketbook, Monsanto, and the mall. Successful gardens can provide a cycle of in-season fresh vegetables and fruits, and out-of-season frozen and canned stores. Besides, better to have a child who’s a garden bunny than a mall rat. Just like having a pet teaches responsibility, nurturing, and the life cycle, so does growing a garden. From seed to table, a child will value the food he grows, will feel ownership, will be less likely to waste and complain. Think of this as yet another opportunity to teach them about hard work, success, failure, and control—or, as the case may be, lack of control. (We’ll pretend for a moment that you’ve mastered your own control issues.) Just like no mom ever thinks her baby is ugly, a cabbage grown in your own garden is more likely to be admired and cuddled and kissed. Uh, we mean eaten.