As the Wuhan coronavirus rages across the world and our country, Americans are doing what Americans do.  We buy gift cards or take out from our favorite local restaurants. We pitch in sewing face masks for our neighbors. We play music to cheer our quarantined neighbors, shop for our elderly or at-risk neighbors, and so on.

We are Americans, and we pull together in trying times like this.

But we also know that we cannot ignore the current crisis.  It’s pretty nice to think that our grocery stores will always have whatever we desire, but that’s not really likely, is it?  We have seen an uptick in grocery store workers dying from the Wuhan coronavirus and truckers sounding the alarm. Some blame “panic buying” for the strain on food banks while farmers are destroying their product; it’s really not that simple.

Federal, state, and local regulations impact a farmer’s ability to distribute his products using inspection, labeling, packaging, and union and other contracting.  So, yes, food banks are clamoring for food while farmers are plowing under acres of vegetables and fruit, pouring away gallons of milk, destroying eggs, and killing egg-laying hens by the thousands.  And yes, it costs double for a dozen eggs at the local supermarket. Or it triples.  Demand to know why.

The same is true for most produce and milk products. Farmers can’t sell them via existing regulations and contracts to schools/restaurants/hospitals/etc., so they are destroying their product while food banks beg for food to feed the truly needy.  This is not okay. Ask why. Demand answers.

In the meantime, a lot of Americans are doing what Americans do. We are working toward self-sufficiency in our food supply by reviving the concept of World War I-era “Victory Gardens.”

The New York Times reports:

The victory garden movement began during World War I and called on Americans to grow food in whatever spaces they could — rooftops, fire escapes, empty lots, backyards. It maintained that there was nothing more valuable than self-sufficiency, than working a little land, no matter how small, and harvesting your own eggplant and tomatoes.

That idea resonates as trips to the grocery store become fraught with fears of coronavirus exposure, and shoppers worry that industrial agriculture could fail them during a pandemic.

. . . . With panicked shoppers cleaning out stores, and basic foods like dried beans and potatoes becoming increasingly difficult to track down, even those with no gardening experience are searching for do-it-yourself YouTube videos on how to build a raised bed.

Americans stuck at home under stay-at-home orders, and various other Wuhan coronavirus lockdowns are starting to look to gardening self-sufficiency as a near- to mid-term model.

Politico reports:

— Community gardening is booming as people are eager to grow their own food amid concerns about access during the global coronavirus pandemic. Seed companies are reporting huge spikes in sales, and an organization modeled after the victory garden movement that was popular during wartime launched last week.

. . . . ‘VICTORY GARDENS’ BORN OUT OF CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: The outbreak has sparked a desire among people — many for the first time — to grow their own food, and they’re flocking to garden stores to stock up on seeds and practical knowledge.

As the coronavirus victory gardens trend was taking hold, that woman in Michigan and many of her fellow commie travelers deemed gardening supplies, from soil to fertilizers to the seeds themselves, as “nonessential.” They effectively banned from local purchases at stores like Walmart and Costco.

But you can get seeds online, from those of us who have extras (see LI comments, too), and just from your regular grocery store purchases.  Most store-bought peppers (bell, jalapeno, etc.), tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, cucumbers, melons (all of them) will yield viable seeds that will grow in your garden.

Years ago, I wrote a post on my personal blog about the need to learn about gardening, soil components, and all the other things that will put a screeching halt to the dreams of tossing our survival seeds into a field and reaping a bounty of food.  That is not how it works, not even close.  If that is the plan, you will starve.  Instead, there are so many useful online resources for home gardening that it’s not even funny, so take advantage of them if you think a victory garden is your cup of tea.

Just know that your plants will die, will be infested with disease and pests, and will not always, often, or regularly produce food.  Learn this now.  Those “survival seeds” are nothing if you don’t learn how to grow them to production, right?  That said, I had good luck with a range of vegetables from asparagus to radish to jalapeno peppers.

Know what you can eat. For instance, you can eat radish greens! In fact, you can feed your radishes such that they produce more greens than root. If you want, you can eat all cabbage greens, including the leaves of that Brussels sprout plant that didn’t provide a ton of sprouts. You cannot eat tomato or potato leaves because they are toxic.  Note that I am not an expert, scientist, et al. on this.  Do your research, know what you can and cannot eat . . . and how to successfully grow what you can.

This is stuff you can learn online if you want to create your own victory garden or if you wish to grow your own tomato plant.  I’m not a farmer, and you don’t need to be a farmer to grow your own produce.  You do, however, need to know that it’s not easy and that you don’t just stick a seed in the soil and reap a bounty. It doesn’t work like that at all.

That said, learn how it works, and plant your own victory garden.  That first salad you make with your own home-grown greens, onions, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes will be the best you will ever be fortunate enough to cherish.

 

 
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