(NaturalNews) Nothing gives a boost in the dead of winter like planning for the earth's awakening in the spring. This year more people than ever will reunite with nature through their victory gardens. Last seen at the end of the World War II, these gardens have come to represent our fight to regain control of our lives, our health and our independence. They represent our re-dedication to membership in humanity and the need to make sure all people have access to high quality food. There is no better time to take out paper and pencil and begin planning the placement, layout, and content of your victory garden. By the time your plan is complete, spring will be right around the corner.
The victory garden symbolizes a new awakening
World War II united people and allowed them to reach into the depths of themselves and bring forth a resourcefulness they didn't know they had. During that time of crisis people realized they were living out a great saga in their lives, and in that saga they each had a part to play. Today we are again facing a crisis and the time has come for another great awakening of vision and understanding. This time the battle involves how to stay healthy and live genuine lives in a world where everything is increasingly stacked against us.
The victory garden is a dedication to the new philosophy that no man is an island. It represents the abandonment of the every man for himself mentality that has been so detrimental to mankind. It embraces the notion that all people must work together for the common good.
What is a victory garden?
The first victory gardens began toward the end of the Great Depression when urban and suburban dwellers cleared strips of their backyards, vacant lots, and any ground they could get their hands on to plant it with produce at a time when food was scarce. Some backyard gardens provided fresh produce for families, while others became community efforts. Some were dedicated to feeding the soldiers. Neighbors pooled their resources, planted different kinds of produce and formed cooperatives. Many gardens were so bountiful that there was plenty of produce for home canning in toxic free mason jars. At the peak of the effort, nine to ten million tons of produce was grown, an amount equal to all commercial production. In this effort children and teenagers worked alongside their parents and neighbors.
Produce grown for commercial sale is produced in soil depleted of the minerals and nutrients so necessary to support good health. Plants grown in depleted soils are less healthy and less able to resist pest attacks, so the use of pesticides is more prevalent now than ever. Produce sold by big agribusiness is gown in foreign countries not subject to highly controlled use of pesticide, and it spends time in shipment during which valuable nutrients are lost.
Victory gardens again returns control over what is eaten to the people who are eating it. It increases access to products that are fresh, vine ripened and nutrient rich when eaten, as well as products can be grown using organic farming techniques. If people are involved in canning and preserving, locally grown produce can be available all year round. Victory gardens are ecologically friendly since their products do not require shipping or packaging. Since people donate their labor to produce these products, the cost becomes quite minimal, making access to high quality produce readily available.
As the current depression deepens and lengthens, we will need to plan for those who have lost there jobs and the ability to support their families. Since the government is broke, it will become the job of the community to look after all of its residents. Victory gardens assure that no community member goes hungry.
The decades of vast accumulation of material goods are over and the realization that this way of life failed to bring happiness is upon us. Victory gardens provide us with a chance to get back to a more fundamental view of ourselves and of all life. They are a venue to providing the physical, mental and emotional healing that comes with putting a seed into the ground and seeing it germinate and grow. They provide the empowerment that comes from making the change from passive consumer to empowered producer.
There are very few things more enjoyable than eating food you have grown yourself, picked and brought to your table. The only thing better is picking it and eating it raw while you are still standing in the garden. Corn that is picked, husked and eaten raw is the ultimate in a gourmet treat. Or try a tomato while it is still warm from the day's sun. You will experience flavor you never knew existed.
All that is required for a garden is a small patch of land where the sun shines, a shovel, some seeds, and a dedication to making it happen. A single gardener should start with a spot about 5'x 8'. If it's a community effort, several backyards or a large piece of vacant land can be used.
If you are starting in the backyard, you will probably be digging up lawn, a formidable task that's worth the effort because ground where grass has been growing for several years, especially if it has been cut with a mulching mower, will have good, rich soil ready to produce a bumper crop.
When the grass has been cleared, dig up the dirt and break up the clods with a pitchfork or better yet, use you hands and feel the power of the dirt between your fingers. Then mound the dirt up into a few rows, more rows for smaller vegetables like carrots, less rows for larger ones like corn or tomatoes. Plant seeds according to package directions. For seedlings, look at their tags. Seeds need to be kept moist until they have germinated and established their tap roots. The key word here is moist, not soggy wet. After that, plants from seed and seedlings should be watered only when the top layer of the soil has dried out.
To keep weeds out of your garden, you can add some commercial mulch available from most garden centers, or use some leaves or hay to cover the ground so weeds can't germinate.
The one caveat to all this is to make sure there has been no pesticide applied for three years to the grass you are digging up. This will allow for any residue to percolate through the ground. If your plants die, chances are chemicals on your lawn have not yet broken down and you should move the garden to another location.
When you find yourself really committing to your garden you can create raised beds that are watered with drip tapes running down the middle. This will assure maximum output from the work you put in.
Produce planted in freshly dug up lawn can probably get by without fertilizer the first year or two. It can only help if you add some though. The best organic fertilizer is probably liquid fish which can be found at fishfertilizer.com. Organic trace minerals from agrienergy.net will also enrich your soil.
People who juice fruits and vegetables have a wealth of organic material to add to their gardens. Juice made in a juice machine will grind the colored cellulose into particles fine enough to be added to the soil in the spring. Larger leftovers will need to be composed before being added so as not to rob the soil of the nitrogen needed to decompose them.
As far as deciding what to plant, go with what you and the people you plan to feed like to eat. Lettuce, tomatoes, peas, green beans, peppers, carrots and potatoes are usually favorites. A couple of good sources for organic seeds are johnnyseeds.com and seedsofchange.com. Once you get started, be sure to save you seeds.
A new device on the market for keeping animals away from your produce is a small solar box that shines a beam and makes animals feel like something is watching them. It is called nite guard and is available from niteguard.com.
There are an abundance of great gardening books out there. The Elliot Coleman books offer a wealth of information for gardeners new and old. One of his books is devoted to greenhouse growing, the ultimate for fresh produce year round in cooler climates.
Of course you will want what you raise to be of the highest quality. Quality can be measured with a device called a refractometer that measures the sugar content, called brix. The higher the reading, the better the product. Over the last 50 years farmers have depleted the minerals in the soil without putting any trace minerals back in. As a result, most supermarket vegetables have brix readings somewhere around 5 or 6. An excellent reading would be around 12 for most vegetables.
Experience the healing power of nature
Much of the advise given in the previous section comes from a certified organic farmer, Gary Cwach, who runs a 1000 acre spread in South Dakota. He's 56 now. At 42 he had surgery for advanced prostate cancer followed by prolonged radiation treatments. He got along fairly well for awhile, during which time he tried to change his conventional farm into an organic farm. He gave up twice because of intense peer pressure. Then he developed advanced bone cancer of the spine. At this point he made a full committment to his vision for an organic farm. When he completed the conversion, he discovered that in the process of healing his land he had also healed himself.
Victory gardens signals the new age
A victory garden reflects a new way of thinking, a new vision and an explosion of understanding about how to achieve happiness and security in life. It's a realization that we not only live in this world, but we help create it. We can continue to consume food from foreign lands, food with which we have no emotional or spiritual relationship. Or we can make the commitment to draw upon our own resources to become part of a higher form of consciousness.
We can choose to participate or not in the coming new age of creative intelligence and love, but there is no way to stop it. It will come as surely as the spring, no matter what the negative forces among us try to do.
It's time to end the old ways of thinking that have brought us so much discontent, frustration and unhappiness. It's time to take back control of our lives in accordance with the laws of nature. It's time to stop trying to find value in material goods and value new ways of living, new survival techniques and new experiences. It's time to stand in resistance of oppressive corporate and governmental forces.
The victory garden is an overt manifestation of our committment in this process of evolution. It presents a challenge as well as a source of immense hope. Whoever is able to achieve a victory garden will be a beacon shining a light for others. In a time when famine threatens for so many, the victory garden demonstrates a new way the earth can be made more plentiful. All it takes is a vision. The human race can come to be parasites on the planet, or we can come to a new enlightenment. The choice is ours.
As we contemplate our choice or ready ourselves to approach nature and mankind openly, we need to remember that this enlightenment is no one's plan. It's a dynamic phenomenon that expresses living energies that are sweeping through our society. The garden is just one facet of this renewal.
From our gardens we will learn the secrets of creation, secrets we can use to create the world we want. The victory garden is an empowerment that brings the realization that we no longer have to be controlled by the power of events, but that by our power and resourcefulness we can control events. We can make our visions a reality.
Maybe you are thinking that you just don't have a green thumb and a garden would be a waste of time. When your get your head in the right place, you will begin to see that gardening is about the relationship with the plants and with nature. When we love and cherish them, they will return the favor.
About the author
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.