(BPT) - Sponsored by Miracle-Gro
Quarantine and social distancing have inspired renewed interest in gardening and home cooking. These two activities go hand-in-hand as people grow their own produce and herbs that can be plucked just steps from the kitchen where they can whip up tasty creations. In fact, this movement revived the concept of victory gardens, which help people become more self-reliant during challenging times.
What is a victory garden?
Victory gardens were common during World War I and II when people were encouraged to grow their own foods to supplement their household needs and open the food supply for the troops. People would grow fast-yield crops in virtually any open soil, whether that be on their properties or in community gardens.
Victory gardens are trending in summer 2020 because people want to positively utilize their space while spending time at home. In fact, more than half (55%) of American adults are gardening or caring for their lawn during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a survey of 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults by Wakefield Research for Miracle-Gro.
Growing a victory garden with your family is a wonderful way to bond, enjoy fresh air and lower your grocery bill. With the surge in cooking at home, many Americans are discovering the joy of using fresh items from their gardens. Two-thirds (67%) of adults are growing or plan to grow edible plants, including vegetables (52%), herbs (33%) and fruits (31%), according to the survey.
How to get the most out of your victory garden
Proper care will help ensure a bountiful harvest from your victory garden. Miracle-Gro’s Sara Eff, scientist in gardens at R&D, offers these helpful tips for getting the most out of some of the most popular garden plants:
Add supports: As garden plants grow, many need a little support. This helps keep leaves out of the dirt, prevents many diseases and strengthens against the elements. For example, pepper plants should be staked to help support the main stem. Tomatoes benefit from a cage to protect the fruit-bearing branches. Plants like peas, beans and cucumbers love to climb a trellis, plus it makes it easier to pick them.
Nourish well: Like a multivitamin for your garden, you may consider supercharging your plants with Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Edibles Plant Nutrition Granules made from a mix of natural and organic ingredients. Specially formulated for growing tomatoes, vegetables, herbs and fruits, you simply apply dry and water in to start feeding. This can help plants grow faster, stronger and promotes higher yields than unfed plants.
Water wisely: Be aware of precipitation and how much Mother Nature is providing. Use a water gauge to help if needed. Gardens need about 1 inch of water per week, but you may need to supply more depending on heat and drought conditions. Keep in mind, deeper watering every few days is ideal rather than quick sprinkles, with the early morning hours best to avoid evaporation.
To pinch or not to pinch: Small unnecessary stems and leaves can be pruned or hand pinched to stimulate growth upward. For example, tomato suckers are small leaves off the main stem. Any below the lowest set of flowers can be removed or pinched off. Be sure to research proper trimming per plant variety as each one is unique. For example, when a basil plant blooms at the top, you pinch it off so that the leaves stay intact. However, you would never pinch tomato flowers because that's what turns into fruit.
Second harvests: With a bit of smart planning, you can enjoy multiple harvests that provide fresh foods into fall. Early maturing crops like lettuce, radishes and beets can be replanted mid to late summer and provide another round of produce. For second plantings, choose fast-maturing, disease-resistant varieties of plants. For example, some leafy greens, such as kale, prefer cooler weather and can even survive frosts.
Follow these simple steps and you'll be well on your way to growing your own victory garden. For additional gardening tips and planting advice, visit www.miraclegro.com.