Victory Gardens for Climate Change?

February 13, 2012

Victory garden poster, World War II

In an interview on Garden Rant, Michelle Owens talks to David Wolfe, a plant scientist and  expert on climate change at Cornell University.

Wolfe brings up a point which I thought was very interesting; Victory Gardens as a litmus test for climate change.

During World Wars I and II people planted vegetable gardens to supplement their food supply and help ensure troops would have enough to eat. The smallest spaces were used to grow food. People grew lettuce on their windowsills. The gardens were truly a country wide effort.

You can read the entire Garden Rant interview here but the part I found really interesting was this:

Q:  In The New American Landscape, you recommend “cautious exploration” with less hardy plants on the part of gardeners.  Why not wild experimentation? 

A: Actually, gardeners can lead the way here, figuring out how we can take advantage of the opportunities offered by a warming climate, because it’s not their entire livelihood at stake, as with farmers.  Maybe we need Victory Gardens in a new context, that of climate change.

I think this is a wonderful idea. A lot of people think you need a good size suburban backyard to have a vegetable garden that will give you anything substantial. To that I say three things. One, Pshaw. Two, Not true. You can grow more than you think in less space than you thought possible. And three even if you only get four tomatoes and two cucumbers that’s four tomatoes and two cucumbers more than you would have gotten if you hadn’t had a garden at all. And let me tell you you haven’t REALLY had a tomato until you have had a tomato straight from the garden.

One way to ease into a Victory Garden is to add some edibles into your ornamental garden. Here are two sweet potato vines planted in a small raised bed around a Honeysuckle shrub. Most of the Sweet potato vines with pretty foliage don’t produce potatoes but these do. And they are tasty.

Plus remember my post about Living Walls? You can do that with edibles as well as ornamental plants. At Woolypocket you can buy products to create a Living Wall of vegetables, herbs, ornamentals or any combination thereof.

Urban Gardens also has some very interesting and sophisticated Living Walls you can take a look at here. There is one with lettuce and strawberries.

As far as figuring out where to begin with your new Victory Garden there are a number of books dedicated to vegetable gardening in small spaces. Two of my favorites are Joy Larckom’s Creative Vegetable Gardening and Designing the New Kitchen Garden by Jennifer R. Bartley.

Joy Larckom is a Garden Writer and Horticulturalist. She is a master at creating interesting and unique looks for an edible garden. The way she combines different colors, textures, vegetables, herbs and edible ornamental flowers is just short of, dare I say, brilliant. This is a link to a wonderful article she wrote for The Guardian in the UK.

Jennifer Bartley is a Landscape Designer and garden writer. The underlying theme of her book is that it is rewarding to feed your body from your garden but twice as rewarding to feed your body and your soul; something you can do by creating a vegetable garden that is not only functional but is also en expression of your creativity and beautiful to look at day after day.

One Response to “Victory Gardens for Climate Change?”


  1. […] Victory Gardens for Climate Change? (nicolebrait.com) […]

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