By Marcus McCartney, OSU Extension Educator, Washington County
How do you define “Victory” as a gardener?
Whether you are new or an experienced gardener, how do you personally define success as it relates to your garden? New gardeners may define success as simply starting a garden for the very first time. The initial effort and time invested defines success for them. Maybe it’s eating the very first fruit or vegetable you grew entirely by yourself (self-fulfillment). For our experienced gardeners, maybe victory or success is defined as successfully growing a new variety or species, or reaching a certain poundage of potatoes or tomatoes, or canning 15 dozen jars of green beans or salsa. However, you define victory, it’s important set goals and try to reach those goals. If you met your 2021 gardening goals, kudos to you and I tip my hat! If not, then it’s fun and important to troubleshoot and figure out why or what went wrong which lead to not meeting your goals. For me, my personal gardening goals were different this year than years past. I’ll explain how I defined victory shortly, but first, what is a victory garden?
ODA and OSU Victory Garden Program
Victory Gardens originated during World War I as an answer to a serious food shortage. The idea was very successful, resulting in an army of amateur gardeners and serving to boost morale and patriotism. Although there’s no food shortage today, ODA and OSU Extension revived this effort to encourage people to plant seeds, realize the fruits of their labor, and share with others if inspired. Washington County was only one of 25 counties to receive vegetable seeds. Over 1,500 seeds were distributed in Washington County and Wood County WV this past spring by the OSU Extension office.
My Victory Garden
For my victory garden, I wanted to do something different and creative. I wanted to demonstrate that gardens can be a reflection of your imagination and do not have to be traditional squares or rectangles. Gardening is a healthy activity, but it should also be fun! Creating around gardening only encourages and empowers individuals to grow plants, tend to the Earth, and eat fresh tasty nutritious foods for themselves. From the first moment I started running rope and spray-painting lines in my backyard, these gardens already started to gather attention from neighbors and eventually the community. The effect of my effort encouraged others to try gardening using unique designs, and creating awareness about our OSU and ODA Victory Garden outreach effort.
For Scale – 55 properly spaced pepper plants were planted in the “H”
Victory Garden in Snow
How I do I define Victory
This year, the single most important factor which determine success or victory for me, was not growing plants or producing a large yield; it was growing the next generation of gardeners by developing an interest and enthusiasm for fruits and vegetables, and the appreciation of the amount of hard work it requires to produce such fruits and vegetables. My son, Allister, was involved from the start; from planning, to plowing, to planting, to watering, to harvesting, and to cooking. He wanted to be victorious just as much as I did. I gave him complete ownership of the garden and constantly reinforced the concept these were his gardens.
My victory was seeing my son’s smiling face selling his produce at the Rivers City Farmers Market, and the time we spent together as a family. We created lots of fun memories and hopefully these memories will grow into knowledge for my son, and just as important, spending time together with his dad. And that’s how I defined victory in 2021.
Allister McCartney (6) at his River City Farmers Market Stand – Allister’s Tomatoes & More (ATM)
We would love to hear about your garden victories! You can post your story and pictures in the comment section of this article on our OSU Extension Washington County Facebook page: facebook.com/OhioStateWashingtonCountyExtension
Be on the lookout in 2022 for free Victory Garden Seed samples in early spring. To inquire about receiving seeds, you can contact the office at 740-376-7431 or sign up to receive our OSU Horticulture email listserv. To sign up, please call the office or email Peggy Bolen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author:
Marcus McCartney is the OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for Washington County. He has been with extension since 2014. Marcus received both his bachelor’s and Master’s degree from West Virginia University Agriculture Education