The Dig

Victory Gardens originated during World War I, an answer to a severe food shortage at the time. People were encouraged to find any usable space, plop in some seeds and contribute homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs to the effort. The idea was wildly successful, growing an army of amateur gardeners and serving to boost morale and patriotism.

While we’re not in wartime, we can all commiserate the past few months have been tough, mood-boosters are welcomed. So the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio State University are reviving the effort and once again inspiring people to get their hands dirty, realize the fruits of their labor and share with others if inspired.  We believe a good day in the garden is good for the soul.

Toss the FROST!

It’s that time of year, folks, when the temps start to drop, the mornings are crisp, the days are just right and the nights so cold you could catch a chill. We are potentially going to have a frost soon. But just because there is a killing frost on the horizon doesn’t mean its game over for your garden!

You may be wondering why frosts are so bad for your garden in the first place. When the temps get down to freezing levels (32 degrees and below,) the moisture in the air and in the plants freezes. Like with anything that gets cold and then warm (think metal,) they expand and retract. It’s the same with plant cells; plant cells freeze and when the sun hits them, they warm up, expanding and the cells potentially explode, killing the plant.

But, with the right steps and plants, you can extend that growing season for a little while longer.

Step 1:

If you can plan a week or two in advance (next year try it,) in the last few weeks before a frost, keep your grass clippings and leaves. These can act as a natural blanket to protect your plants when the frost hits, then, when spring comes you can just mix it into the soil!

Step 2:

Potted and tropical plants need to be brought indoors, or at least onto a covered porch attached to the house. Plants in the ground or plants that cannot be brought inside can be covered shortly before the sun goes down with burlap or cloth sheets. DO NOT use plastic, as the plastic  doesn’t breathe and can cause more damage to the plants. It also heats up quickly in the morning sun, and if forgotten, can burn foliage as well as adhere to the plants, potentially tearing the plant up when removed. Raked up leaves and grass clippings can be used to entirely cover small plants and are a great insulator.

NOTE: If you are unable to cover your plants with a fabric, get up before the sun touches your plants and water them. This helps the plants recover from the frost.

Step 3:

Not all plants need to be covered, but it doesn’t hurt to cover them all. There are a great many plants for your garden that are frost tolerant: Spinach, Turnips, Parsnips, Broccoli, Cabbage, Summer annuals, or plants that originate in tropical areas, like impatiens, are the most sensitive to cold. Many of our native flowers can tolerate frost and even freezing temps long into the Fall.

Step 4:

Here are some plants that you can plant in the fall for a spring or summer harvest:  Garlic, Spring Onions, Onions and Shallots, Asparagus (however this guy takes 2 years before you can harvest him!)  and some varieties of broad beans.


If you have some other method or a fun idea for protecting your plants from a frost, we would love for you to share them with us!!!!

Making Your Very Own Homemade Pot!

It is incredible the number of items in your home that you would normally just toss away (or recycle!) that could be repurposed into a cute and functional pot for your plants. Whether you plant something from your Victory Gardens seed packet or seeds that you might just have laying around, this fun project can be ready in no time!

Tip: Gloves are always a good idea to wear to help avoid injuries.

 Idea #1: Tin Can Pots

  1. A tin can from either a canned veggie, soup, pasta, fruit, etc.
  2. A can opener(preferably this style)
  3. Large nail and hammer

Tip: Some cans might leave a sharp lip, so be very careful when handling and planting! You can fix this by angling the can opener closer to the outer edge and cutting it off. Check out the video below to see how.

Idea #2: Milk Jug Pots

  1. A milk jug or a 2-liter pop bottle or juice bottle
  2. Scissors/utility knife

Tip: Some bottles have handles, leave them on for easy mobility!

For any homemade pots, you need to make sure they have drain holes of some sort. No drain holes could cause root issues to occur.

Now all you need for both is a little bit of soil and a few seeds!

So You’ve Decided to Garden….

Welcome Gardeners! Are you here to learn about the Ohio Victory Gardens program, have an interest in gardening or just plain curious about the talk of reviving a U.S tradition? No matter the reason, you are in the right place!

The purpose, of a Victory Garden, is to help in times of need. This could mean providing food or lifting our morale, creating bonds with one another and nature, or just to bring some fun in your life!

Here, folks from all garden walks of life, hope to share with you their insights, tips and ideas based on what they have learned from their successes, mistakes and others. Our hope is that we can help you learn to create a garden of any size in any place.

The seed giveaway through OSU Extension offices will help anyone get started! There is no time like the present to plant a fall garden. The seed packet contains a few different kinds of produce that will grow well this time of year – whether it’s full grown plants or even microgreens!

And if nothing else, we’re hoping gardening can give you a good hearty laugh and bring a little sunshine to your day.  Plants aren’t the only ones who need sunshine and a good environment to thrive.

Keep an eye on our blog, but also dig up our other pages that are full of “how to’s” and tons of resources that will help get your garden to where you want it to be!

Let’s get growing!

Colette Gabriel
Laboratory Scientist
ODA Division of Plant Health