ORLANDO, Fla. – During World War I and II Americans were encouraged to plant vegetables and fruits where they could to provide for themselves and troops serving on the front lines, while there is no indication the U.S. is short on food supply due to the coronavirus pandemic many Americans are taking to their yards-- or windowsills-- again as an outlet during quarantine or to avoid trips to picked-over grocery stores.
The victory garden concept started during World War I and returned during World War II to help feed troops overseas and boost morale at home. For no other reason than a little stress relief and having the pride of eating their homegrown tomatoes, people are starting pandemic victory gardens, according to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.
UF reports page views for vegetable gardening on the UF/IFAS Extension publishing library went up more than 500% for the six-week period that ended April 27 compared to the same time last year.
Food sustainability agent for UF/IFAS Extension Collier County Jessica Ryals said when people encounter economic challenges, including unemployment due to COVID-19, they often grow food at home. The UF/IFAS Extension agents saw an increase in request for home-grown food tips during the 2008 recession, according to Ryals.
If your interested in starting a raised garden bed, doing some small-scale gardening or even raising chickens UF/IFAS has the resources you need right now. Normally, you could pop into your local extension office to have them diagnose a plant or answer questions but due to the pandemic agents with UF/IFAS Extension statewide launched a website to inform consumers how to grow produce in their yard, or homes.
Wendy Wilber, UF/IFAS statewide master gardener coordinator, is leading the project.
“This is a one-stop online resource for Floridians who want to get growing edibles in their landscapes,” Wilber said. “It is being launched now to support folks as they are safer at home with the COVID-19 crisis. They have time on their hands, and they are thinking that they should grow edibles to supplement their groceries. It also helps relieve stress.”
Here are a couple links from the UF/IFAS Extension to bookmark as you start your homegrown journey:
- From chickens to beekeeping, canning and identifying snakes, this is where you’ll find it all.
- Getting started: This quick start guide tells newbie gardeners what to plant and when by the season, even helping you determine where to plant around your home.
- Maybe you don’t have a yard. That’s OK, check out this link for different types of gardens, including hydroponic and growing crops in containers which can be grown in small spaces.
- Having plant problems? Maybe its your soil or you have a pest problem. Send in a digital sample to be diagnosed by the experts.
- After successfully growing your first strawberry patch you might be wondering what to do with them all? This link includes resources for canning and preserving your homegrown bounty.
- Take a class online: During normal circumstances UF/IFAS Extention offices offer in-person workshops but they’ve moved those online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Turn off the Netflix and check out this list of upcoming free online classes to improve your green thumb.