Throughout both World Wars, the US government encouraged its citizens to “sow the seeds of victory” and plant War Gardens to assist in the fighting effort. Every day folks were expected to convert every idle plot of land they could muster into gardens to grow crops, which freed up resources for troops overseas.
It may not be as necessary now to create a Victory Garden, but it is a fun and relaxing hobby that you can continue to pursue even after the quarantine has lifted. But what if you don’t have much space to make a garden? No matter! Even a window sill will do the trick.
The first thing you’ll want to do is figure out where, exactly, you want to set up your garden as that will dictate what, when, and how much you’ll be able to grow. A sunny window sill, for example, doesn’t offer much real estate which is going to limit your yield but is also far easier to maintain than a larger, outdoor setup.
You’ll also want to take the amount of available light into account. An outdoor garden with partial to full sunlight will allow you to grow a far wider variety of plants than a South-facing window sill. If your home doesn’t receive sufficient sunlight, you may consider investing in an indoor hydroponics setup. Both Aerogarden and Click and Grow offer simple-to-use countertop hydroponic systems that operate using pre-packed pods of seeds — they’re essentially the Keurigs of indoor gardening.
Next comes the fun part: deciding what to grow. If your lighting is limited, start with something easy like herbs or leafy greens. They’re hardy, don’t require full sunlight, and will often grow seemingly just to spite you. For those of you with access to more sun, the options are practically limitless. Carrots, garlic, tomatoes, onions, chilies, peppers, snow peas, and radishes all work as potted plants, as are strawberries and blueberries. Basically as long as it doesn’t come off a tree, it should be suitable for growing in confined spaces.
That doesn’t mean you should roll through the gardening center’s aisles, picking plants at random. At least, not when you have apps that can do it for you. Gardenate ($1 – iOS, Android) for example, is loaded with information on more than 100 common vegetable varieties, allowing you to plan and schedule your planting month by month.
Next up, you’ll need to collect your seeds, soil, fertilizer, pots, and tools. There’s no better place for doing that than your local garden supply company. As for tools, do not mistake yourself for the head groundskeeper at a Victorian-era English Lord’s summer manor. Put. The. Hedge. Clippers. Down. You can get away with a trowel or transplanter, a pair of pruning shears and a watering can to start with.
While you can just pop your seeds into a bucket of soil and hope for the best, you might consider using a seed starter tray to get them going. These can be as simple as a tray of peat pellets sheltered under a transparent plastic dome. You can easily and inexpensively make your own using anything from eggshells to the cartons they come in, from paper towel tubes to rolled-up newspapers.
Once you’ve gotten your greens sprouted and growing strong, you’ll want to transplant them to their primary pot. Now, if you’ve never actually transplanted a seedling before, don’t stress. It’s a delicate but straightforward process and there are hundreds of video walkthroughs detailing the process on YouTube, like this one from Garden Up.
After you’ve done all this, it’s a matter of maintaining your crops based on what you have chosen and what the conditions are. Looking for more help in your quest to make the ultimate Victory Garden? Take a look at this fantastic piece from Engadget.