(Health Secrets) Celebrate the earth’s awakening by planning a victory garden, and join the thousands of people reuniting with nature while embracing healthy living. Victory gardens were last seen at the end of the World War II, and today are making a comeback because they have come to represent our fight to regain control of our lives, our health and our independence. They represent 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 than now to take out paper and pencil and begin planning the placement, layout, and content of your garden. By the time your plan is complete, the earth will have warmed enough for planting.
The victory garden symbolizes a new awakening
World War II united people and allowed them to 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 a great re-awakening of vision and understanding. This time the battle involves how to stay healthy and live genuine lives in a world where the odds are increasingly stacked against us.
The victory garden is a dedication to the 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 toxin 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.
Why victory gardens are back
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 able to resist pest attacks, so the use of pesticides is more prevalent now than ever. Produce sold by big agribusiness is often grown in foreign countries not subject to highly controlled use of pesticides, and it spends extended periods of time in shipment during which it loses valuable nutrients.
Victory gardens return control over what is eaten to the people who are eating it. These gardens increase access to products that are fresh, vine ripened and nutrient rich when eaten, as well as products 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 recession drags on, victory gardens help those who have lost their jobs and their ability to support their families. With the national deficit rising, communities are increasing choosing to look after their own residents. Victory gardens assure that no community member goes hungry.
Many people are concluding that the recent decades of vast accumulation of material goods have failed to bring the happiness for which they had hoped. Victory gardens provide us with a chance to get back to a more fundamental view of ourselves and of all life. They are an avenue 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.
How to plan a victory garden
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 clots with a pitchfork, or better yet, use your hands and feel the power of the earth between your fingers. Then mound the dirt up into a few rows; narrow rows for smaller vegetables like carrots, wider rows for larger ones like corn, tomatoes or squash. Plant seeds according to package directions. For seedlings, look at their tags. Seeds need to be kept moist and not allowed to dry out 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 for 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 http://www.groworganic.com/fertilizers/organic-fertilizer/liquid-fish.html. Composted manure works wonders too. Organic trace minerals from http://www.agrienergy.us/ will also enrich your soil.
People who juice fruits and vegetables have a wealth of organic material to add to their gardens. Making juice in a juice machine grinds discarded colored cellulose into particles fine enough to be added to the soil in the spring. Larger leftovers will need to be composted 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 usual favorites. A couple of good sources for organic seeds are http://www.johnnyseeds.com/ and http://www.seedsofchange.com/. Once you get started, be sure to save your 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 http://www.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 vegetables 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 produce. Over the last 50 years commercial farmers have depleted minerals in the soil without replacing them. 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 advice given in the previous section comes from a certified organic farmer, Gary Cwach, who runs a 1000 acre spread in South Dakota. He’s in his late 50’s now. At 42 he had surgery for advanced prostate cancer followed by prolonged radiation treatments. He got along fairly well for a while, during which time he tried to change his conventional farm into an organic farm. He gave up twice because of intense peer pressure. Then his cancer returned in the form of advanced bone cancer of the spine. At this point he made a full commitment 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 symbolize a new age
A victory garden reflects a new way of thinking, a new vision and 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, compromised food with which we have no intellectual or emotional relationship. Or we can make the commitment to draw upon our own resources to become part of a higher form of consciousness.
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.
The victory garden is an overt manifestation of our commitment in this process of evolution. It presents a challenge as well as a source of immense hope. Whoever is able to create a victory garden will be an example of success for others. In a time when famine threatens so many, the victory garden demonstrates a new way the earth can be made more fruitful. All it takes is a vision. We can become parasites on the planet, or we can step up 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 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. It 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.
Maybe you are thinking that you just don’t have a green thumb and a garden would be a waste of time. But once you get your head in the right place, you will begin to see that gardening is about the relationship we have with plants and with nature. When we love and cherish them, they will return the favor. Gardening is never really about techniques or the color of your thumb. It’s about the content of your heart.