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Don’t Tread On My Victory…Garden!

Food shortages are inspiring renewed interest in gardening for sustenance and legacy!

An article that originally appeared in The Daily Caller, a conservative-leaning publication, that reported on an executive order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan brought to the fore how important home and victory gardening has been to this country since colonial times. In the article some Republican pundits alleged that "in response to the COVID-19 outbreak the Governor was banning people from purchasing seeds and gardening tools." This is not entirely true conservatives embellished the truth as the article does not say that the order bans gardening, but that it does restrict the sale of gardening supplies by requiring space so people can stand six feet apart unobstructed.

Yet even though the article was misinterpreted the public response (public protest march)

to the thought that growing your own food could be curtailed was entirely unexpected. In fact gardening was an instrumental tool in winning World War II, it supported shortages of food for the masses thus the moniker “Victory” gardening. But what if there was a ban on purchasing seeds and you had ample land for planting your own “Victory Garden”?

First let’s look at how we can get seeds from our local fresh air and farmer’s markets. At the end of the day, many markets throw away fruits and vegetables and the refuse may be perfect for seed collection as well as composting! Harvest seeds from the fruit when the fruit is fully mature, but not rotten. Separate seeds from the surrounding fruit tissue or pulp and allow them to air dry on wax paper or a wax coated paper plate for several days. Keep out of direct sunlight but place them in a well ventilated area with low humidity.

But what are the best plants to start with? Here are some tips from Utah State University on the matter.

1.Tomatoes are among the easiest seeds to grow. Since heirloom tomatoes are almost exclusively self-pollinated, plants grown from collected seed almost always grow back true-to-type. Select fully ripe tomato fruits. Squeeze the seeds onto a wax paper or a piece of screen and leave them at room temperature until thoroughly dry. Soaking the freshly harvested seeds in tap water at room temperature for 2 days and then drying removes the jelly-like membrane around the seed and increases germination rates.

2.: Peppers are also easy to collect and store. Select fully mature pepper fruits, preferably ones that are turning red (or are changing from green to another color). Place the seeds on a towel or screen until thoroughly dry.

3.Eggplant, Tomatillo (Husk Tomato or Ground Cherry) and Garden Huckleberry: Separate seeds from mature fruit and dry thoroughly at room temperature.

4.Legumes: When collecting beans, peas, soybeans and other legumes, leave pods on the mother plant until the pods are dry enough to allow the seeds to rattle around in the pod. Watch carefully because pods of some legumes split when they are dry and scatter the seeds. Pick dry pods and place in a well ventilated area at room temperature.

The most popular plants for Victory Gardens are vegetables and varieties that produce large harvests, which can be grown densely and/or can be vertically grown, in order to get the most amount of food possible for the space you have.

When it comes to planting that feeds generations the planting of fruit and nut trees is making a resurgence. One nut or fruit tree can practically feed a neighborhood. Currently a 501c3 registered non profit agency based in Boston that uses arts to focus on the problems of climate change called Black Coral Inc is petitioning local politicians and community leaders for land in Roxbury Massachusetts the home of where the first apple trees were brought to the new world. If you would like your name added to that petition email us at with the heading "Save The Russett" or donate $16.35 the year the Russett was introduced to help with the purchase of Roxbury Russett Trees for a future Art installation all donations are tax deductible.

The fruit of the tree, the “Roxbury Russett”, a crisp, sweet, golden green tinged with red variety, was famous in colonial times for pie making. The Russett which was cultivated in Boston since 1635 is almost extinct in the area, and Black Coral Inc. wishes to bring it back into prominence. In fact the local Commerce center called Grove Hall Mecca was the central place for the largest of these apple groves that extended for acres across Roxbury and Dorchester Massachusetts. Perhaps the Spirit of planting for Victory encapsulated in the tale of Johnny Appleseed is still alive in New England. Let’s hope so!


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