Modern Victory Garden – a start!

Well hello

What an interesting week it has been, with all the expectations we had of some easing off of our restrictions, we find ourselves in a more uncertain space than before. So many of our garden centre clients were hoping to start trading on 1 May 2020, it has taken a bit of time for the reality to sink in that this will not happen immediately.

Be that what it may, the reality is we are confined to our homes for some time to come and it is up to each of us to navigate the next few months as best we can. What better place to start than with a Victory Garden!

As with most successful projects, one of the most important aspects of any gardening project is the planning, but let us be very clear, planning is by no means the most important aspect, that honour is reserved for the concept of Fun and Joy, and.. oh yes, Pleasure, with a very definite capital P.

The role of the Modern Victory Garden is different to those of yesteryear, with modern farming techniques and logistics, we can produce enough food and even send it to the most remote areas of the land. Our challenges are more personal, and they include a medium-term future that include prolonged ‘staycations or home holidays’, combined with reduced buying power and of course the interminable queues at the supermarkets, with restricted entry.

We are all much more aware of the positive effect our lack of mobility is having on the environment and over the last few month we have all enthusiastically been part of the Spekboom Challenge to contribute to fast growing effective carbon busting solutions, this is an important by-product of the Victory Garden.

Our modern Victory Garden is much more than all of that, it goes to our fundamental mental and physical wellbeing. The importance of more fresh, unprocessed food goes without saying, but the positive contribution to our mental and physical health goes much deeper, it speaks to:

  •       Exercise
  •       Breathing
  •       Movement meditation – the joy of being in a space to meditate for those of us who struggle to sit and meditate.
  •       Family time – having a space to be with your family, to get down and dirty and it is all ok
  •       Time and space with our animals – they love nothing better than being involved, the cats get especially excited if we add a few bunches of catnip to the fray and of course chickens are wonderful pest control assistants.
  •       The opportunity to research and read and learn about subjects such as nutrition, plants, the phases of the moon, the effect of climate and seasons, to name a few.

With all those objectives and benefits in mind, the most important aspect of planning our Victory Garden is the site. We can plant vegetables and their companion plants into a space selected in our garden, for those who have the luxury of some garden space, into pots on our patios, into pots on a windowsill, into a garden patch in an ‘allotment’ or space of earth we have access to, on our own or in a community, into vertical gardens or into hydroponic structures, to name a few.

The MOST important rule of any garden is that it should NOT cause any stress at all, in my opinion. If that happens the entire project becomes a grudge project, with negative energy. The way to avoid stress is to keep it simple.

One aspect in deciding where to site the Victory Garden will be understanding the light in your space. Most plants need quite a lot of light, preferably sunlight (6 hours a day), others need shade, it is important to understand the light in our gardens and spaces. Take a few days to make notes, watch where the sun comes up, which part of the area receives sunlight in the morning and where the shade is, where the sun is at 2pm, what is in sun and what is in the shade and again when the sun goes down.

This sounds a simple part of the process and it is but sometimes it is an interesting process as, in my experience, we often find we are not as aware of our spaces as we think we are. We learn a lot when we take time to be mindful and still, as trite as that may sound.

The second step would be to think about whether you want a separate plot of vegetables and herbs (or bank of pots), or whether you want to incorporate them in the rest of the garden. I will discuss the pros and cons of these alternatives next week.

The third step would be to think about what vegetables and herbs you want to plant. The selection is as important as everything else, and again the rule would be to keep it simple. I find that all the information available is quite overwhelming, often information overload and I either buy too many different exotic vegetable and herb seedlings or I simply run out of energy and give up.

Vegetables do need quite a lot of care; it is important not to take on too much to begin with.

We humans are quite interesting, we often find that when we fail at a project, we are reluctant to continue. Keeping it simple allows us to take time to understand the plants and to understand the mistakes we make. We learn from our mistakes when we are able to figure out what happened and try something else.

A place to start may be with selection of vegetables and herbs you enjoy eating and using in food preparation, on a regular basis.

I will discuss a few favourites next week, with some tips and plans on how to pull it all together, remembering that it all goes about simplicity, fun and pleasure.

Until next time

Jennifer