When Secretary Clinton P. Anderson issued him a call for 20,000,000 Freedom Gardens in 1948, and the food conservation drive was getting underway. Food prices were soaring, and dark clouds of hunger and Communism were hovering over Europe.
Since then, the world food situation has not improved. On the contrary, it is worse that prices continue to rise, and the more food we send overseas, the closer we come to the bottom of our food bin.
Indeed, if we are to stay well-fed, check inflation, and help the needy overseas, the necessity for home food production is even greater than it was during the war.
So it behooves gardeners to explore their vegetable seed catalogs again and get out their shovels and hoes. It is plain horse sense to do so.
Of course, most real dirt gardeners always maintain a vegetable patch to produce quality crops. But some are inclined to taper off regularly and put the most effort into flowers and other ornamentals.
Prima Donnas Of The Home Garden’s Show
This year the ruddy tomato and the fragrant onion will again be the prima donnas in the home garden show. It will be no great sacrifice for the old-timers.
For the thousands of newly married couples and returning war veterans, it will be a novel and refreshing experience to grow some of their food instead of buying everything at high prices at the corner store.
Besides, there is the constant threat of unfavorable weather causing crop failures. During the war, we were favored by the elements, but that can’t last forever. Already there are reports of severe drought conditions in the dust bowl.
We have no large stock of foodstuffs available to fall back on if we should have even a partial failure this season of one of our major crops, such as wheat or corn.
The home gardener can control the moisture supply by water, and he can also handle blights and insect pests much more quickly than the commercial grower if he knows how and goes about it systematically.
Quality Crops In Veteran Gardens
Know-how is significant in the vegetable garden as in every branch of horticulture. Fortunately, we now have a vast army of Victory garden veterans upon which we can rely.
Most of us, I think, learned something from the experience of the war years about the economical production of quality crops in a small space.
Even the greenest tyros often developed skills in a season or two that put the efforts of veteran “green thumbers” to shame.
And, even when the crops grown were no better than those bought at the store, they seemed to taste better because they were homegrown. Very often, they were better, both in quality and in freshness.
It is not too well known, as yet, by home gardeners that certain varieties of vegetables are especially suited for home use because of tenderness, flavor, or other qualities.
The qualities that make them suitable for the table sometimes make them poor shippers and keepers.
The reverse is true of ninny of the best market varieties—they ship well because they are tough and stand up in the market. Everyone knows that all sweet corn loses its sweetness in a few hours because the sugar turns to starch.
Actual sweet corn fanciers claim that the best way to eat it is within a few minutes from when it is picked. Unfortunately, you can’t do that with corn bought in a store or roadside stand.
Vegetable Eating Habit
Truck growers and market gardeners did a fine job during the war. Their production has grown tremendously as the demand for vegetable increases.
But Victory gardeners produced 42% percent of all the vegetables that were eaten fresh. Moreover, government surveys show that families who grow vegetables also buy more.
Why? Because they have vegetable-eating habits. So don’t let anyone tell you it will hurt commercial vegetable growers if you plant a Freedom Garden. It won’t, for if it weren’t for home garden production, there wouldn’t be enough fresh vegetables to go around.
Nutritionists and food specialists tell us that most American families do not eat enough fresh vegetables for their excellent. In addition, too many children “don’t like vegetables.”
Perhaps mothers are to blame for not fixing them in delicious ways or, more likely, for trying to scold their offspring into liking them.
There is room for a great deal of education along this line. This season, remember that every pound of vegetables grown and consumed at home will release the same amount of meat, wheat, or other staple foods severely needed overseas.
Peacetime Gardening Campaign
The national garden organizations are all set for the most extensive peacetime gardening. The campaign they have ever staged.
The National Garden Institute coordinates between the United States Department, the Department of Agriculture, and other civilian groups. Mrs. Lewis M. Hull is president of the National Council of State Garden Clubs.
Mrs. Hermann G. Place, President of The Garden Club America, has pledged the support of her strong group of women. Likewise, the Men’s Garden Clubs of America have started an aggressive campaign.
Among the non-garden outfits that are going along are the Boy Scouts of America, the American Women’s Voluntary Services, the Girl Scouts, 4-H Clubs, and numerous state and local groups.
In addition to remobilizing 20,000,000 gardeners, several other worthwhile activities have been started. For example, the National Council of State Garden Clubs has an ambitious “Seeds for Peace” plan that is going well.
Collections of 13 packets of vegetable seeds are being sent to Europe. These sell for $.50, including postage.
The American Seed Trade Association has a larger seed package that will produce up to five tons of food.
Both offers are decidedly worthwhile, the one being large enough for a small garden, the other containing a seed collection approved by the U. S. Department of Agriculture for a large family or a group of families.
Company Employee Gardens
The National Garden Institute is again encouraging company employee gardens with considerable success.
The industry is deeply concerned by the increased cost of living and is anxious to help employees make their paychecks stretch farther by allowing them to grow some of their food.
The value of gardening by-products, such as improved health and morale, reduced juvenile delinquency, and better family-end community spirit, are also widely recognized.
The Institute will continue some of its awards to youth and organizations that do an excellent gardening job.
The National Rural School Grounds Improvement Contest launched last fall has caught on very well, and the winners will be chosen after the contest closes on May 31.
In addition to food gardens, home and community improvement projects will be launched. It is hoped that there will be no slowing in the beautification of public buildings and highways.
Conservation of soil and natural beauty spots and resources will continue to be pushed by the garden clubs and civic organizations. It looks like one of history’s busiest and most essential garden years.
44659 by Andrew S. Wing