Victory gardens making a comeback
Somehow, June has slipped in so quickly and the 21st of the month will mark the beginning of the summer season.
The May planting and gardening season has left me a bit on the tired side and, if it is the same with you, it may be because, along with the digging, weeding, watering and planting, we are also burning up calories with some “hidden” energy sappers that we might not be aware of.
According to this tongue-in-cheek list of common calorie burners, you can burn 75 calories per hour beating around the bush; 100 calories per hour jumping to conclusions; 300 calories per hour throwing your weight around; 25 calories per hour passing the buck; 150 calories per hour climbing the wall and 400 calories per hour rolling with the punches. Wow, no wonder we so often feel “dead on our feet” at the end of a busy day.
Recently, I was thumbing through a garden almanac from 1944 and I read over the insert for the month of June for that year, the heading read, “Plant a Garden! You’ll be Glad You Did.” The ad went on to offer gardeners very inexpensive high-germinating vegetable seeds for use in their Victory Gardens. The gardens were grown by families for their own use, which enabled the country to send more of the commercially grown produce to the troops stationed overseas.
The seeds were offered at 10 cents a pack and included such varieties as Stringless Kidney Wax and Bountiful Green Beans, Detroit Dark Red and Crosby’s Egyptian Beets (both of these were highly recommended as “good canners”), Danver’s Half Long and Oxheart Carrots, Early Evergreen and Golden Bantam Corn, Red Wethersfield and Ebenezer Onions (advertised as good keepers), Pie Pumpkin and Improved Hubbard Squash, and Break O’Day, Ponderosa and Rutger’s Tomatoes.
Some of these varieties are still available while others may be more difficult to find. If you’re planning your own garden, look for fruits and vegetables that are easy to grow, good producers, prolific and good for canning or storage. Victory Gardens were such a great idea in 1944 and now, 68 years later, they’re a great idea again.
Make room for calendula
Do you have room in your garden or beds for a re-seeding, easy-to-grow, edible, brightly colored flower? If not, you may want to make room for this one. The Calendula or pot marigold is a great addition to any landscape. Calendulas range in color from deep, golden, orange to light, bright, yellow and they have an aromatic, spicy fragrance as well. These cheerful flowers are easy-to-grow and, if given a sunny to part-shade location, they will tolerate poor soil. Grown thickly, they can be used as a groundcover in places where other flowers will not grow.
Calendula petals are edible and will add a spicy, pungent flavor to salads or they can be used to flavor soups and stews. This same spicy pungency acts as a repellant to certain insects. Grown near the vegetable garden, pot marigold will repel tomato worms, asparagus beetles and mosquitoes.
Pot marigold petals can be dried or frozen for later use. To dry them, just place the petals spread so as not to touch on paper towels and allow them to dry. The dried petals can be stored in airtight containers. Dried petals can be mixed into potpourris, used to make tea, used in hair rinses, cream, salves and soaps, and used as a dye for fabrics. Calendula can also be used as a coloring agent in cheese.
In the fall, leave the seed heads and let the seeds fall to the ground. By spring, you will have new plants to enjoy. You may also want to try cutting the seed heads in the fall and burying them near and around your bulb beds. In the spring when the bulbs have stopped blooming, the calendula will be grown enough to cover the dead foliage of the bulbs.
What a great plant. Any gardener could grow, enjoy and use this one.
June garden tip: Time to stake plants that will grow tall as the season progresses and will need the extra support, add extra mulch to perennial and vegetable beds, transplants and young plants to keep roots moist and cool, finish planting tender transplants such as coleus, tomatoes, pumpkins, and begonias.
If you have garden questions or tips for other gardeners, send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org.