Start a Victory Garden
Victory Gardens united our nation once before, let's do it again!
In mid-March, a friend asked for my help moderating a gardening group on Facebook. They had been overwhelmed with membership requests from the moment TP became scarce.
It was easy to understand why. I don't think many of us expected there to be a shortage of toilet paper, and we wondered what would be next. Meanwhile, grocery stores were restricting purchases of milk and hamburger. Would we soon be told how much lettuce we could buy? Would there even be any lettuce?
Okies aren't afraid of hard work and if a garden is what we need to make sure we have food for our families, we aren't intimidated. Both new and experienced gardeners are joining the Facebook group - and the Victory Gardens 2.0 movement - in droves to form a community ready to share gardening knowledge and expertise.
Turns out Okie's aren't the only ones taking to the dirt, as highlighted in this CBS Sunday Morning story...
What is a Victory Garden?
While it was seen in "the war years" of WWI and WWII as a way to support the war effort, I think that for many Americans it was much like today - a time when there was a lot of fear and worry about what was happening in the world. Individuals here at home couldn't do a lot and this was something they could do. A Victory Garden was a place to harness their energy, stress, and worry for something productive and rewarding.
How do I start a Victory Garden?
First things first, find the right spot for your garden - which means thinking about your soil and sunlight.
When choosing your spot, you need a sunny location but here in Oklahoma - and anywhere else where summer temps will spend weeks and weeks at 100+ degrees - there IS such a thing a too much sun. Find a spot that gets not much more than 8 hours of sun or some of your plants will cook in the summer. In Oklahoma, that will happen a little bit anyway. It happens to the best of us, every stupid summer.
There are a few things that will grow with less sun than that but soon, they'll be unhappy with the air temperatures in the southern plains. If you're in Oklahoma, ignore those Pinterest posts about vegetables that grow in the shade. That might work for my sister in Seattle (I should ask her). It doesn't work in Oklahoma or similarly hot climates.
All that to say, the best spot will get 6-8 hours of sun. If you're not 100% sure how much sun an area gets there are a couple of ways to find out.
The cheapest way: Get a sheet of paper and write down what time the sun starts to hit it. Then go out every hour afterward and make a note on your paper whether the area was sunny or shady. The 6-8 hours rule is cumulative during the day so if it gets 3 hours sun, then an hour or two of shade, then 5 hours of sun later, it will still work.
The easiest way: If you're lazy or forgetful like me (I'm both - or just busy - I forget), you can buy this gizmo. You put it in a spot at sunrise and leave it there for 12 hours. At the end, it will flash and tell you if you have full sun, full shade or something between. This is super handy if you're not sure you'll be able to go outside hourly to do the check described above.
Did you know there are more living things in the soil than anywhere else on earth?
Soil is super duper important. If your soil is easy to turn you can probably work with it to create a garden and probably don't need to build a raised bed. If your soil sticks to your shovel, you'll have trouble. Of course, if your soil is extremely sandy you'll have trouble too. If you have a lot of sand or if your soil sticks to your shovel (clay), think about building a raised bed.
And by raised bed, I mean something a few inches off the ground - a single board width - not something several feet high. Yes, I grow tomatoes in waist-high beds, but I wasn't building those beds on short notice in the middle of a pandemic with limited access to resources and fill material.
A shallow raised bed will give you enough root space for most vegetables to be happy and the nutrients will soak into the natural soil underneath giving plant roots even further to grow. Contact a local nursery to find out the best source for a compost and soil mix to fill the garden. Give the soil company the dimensions for your bed and they'll tell you how much you need. They'll usually deliver and dump it in your driveway for a fee or you might be able to get it on your own if you have access to a truck.
PAUSE FOR AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT...
If you're in Oklahoma or any other state where Bermudagrass or Dallisgrass are the primary turfgrasses you MUST MUST MUST dig those out. Do not build the bed on top of these grasses. Do not till the grass into the soil. Do not put cardboard and newspaper over it and call it good. Don't even use landscape fabric. Dig that nasty demon grass out and throw it away. I don't even add it to my compost pile. Trust me. Trust every gardener who cusses with blistered hands every spring trying to remove it.
WOW! That's a lot to do right!?!
I'll let you get to work on that and I'll be back on Monday with advice on what you should plant from seed and what should be purchased as starts (baby plants) from the nursery.
P.S. Your timing is perfect. It's a fabulous time to start a garden in Oklahoma!!!