“Much credit is due to the patriotic men and women who spent so much time in planting the twenty million Victory Gardens in the United States, and helped to meet the food requirements. It is estimated that about eight million tons of food were produced in 1943 in these Victory Gardens”
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (The County Review, February 17, 1944)
“Beyond their contribution to biodiversity, native plants offer gardeners many benefits. The are the ultimate answer to low-maintenance landscaping for busy households. They require little or no irrigation. They are vigorous and hardy, standing up to winter cold and summer heat. Once established, they flourish without fertilizers or synthetic pesticides. And native plants naturally resist most pests and diseases.”
Deirdre O’Shea (The Times of Northport & East Northport., September 08, 2005)
In World War II, millions of Americans started Victory Gardens to help with the supply shortages caused by the war. With victory gardens, they could take charge of providing food for their own families. Today, millions of Americans are taking control of their own food supplies by planting gardens of their own, and exploring all sorts of new Victor Garden ideas.
This summer the Brentwood Seed Library will be helping you with your garden by offering you some of the information, seeds, and ideas you need to get started. One interesting take on the Victory Garden was suggested by librarian and gardener Mike Buono who is working on a native yard and garden of his own.
Why not incorporate native vegetables – those edible plants that grow naturally across long island - into your own victory garden? They are often easier to grow than other plants and have the added advantage of contributing to our local biodiversity.
We have listed ideas for Native Plants you might explore in your Native Plant Victory Grden below. Let us know what you think and if you have suggestions of your own.
Beans, corn, and squash were all planted by Long Island Indians. The three made up the most important vegetable crops. If you are looking for a plant that can be easily planted and harvested through summer, beans especially are the way to go and several varieties are available through our seed library.
Wild, or Alpine, strawberries are much smaller and more flavorful than more commercial familiar varieties. They are a great and easy-to-grow treat for the summer. Funnily enough, a giant variety of strawberry was grown in Brentwood during the 19th century (which had several notable fruit farms).
WIld ginger is a perfect herb for growing in the summer. It was used by Indians and early settlers as a spice, a candy, and even a medicine (https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/asarum_canadense.shtml_). Unlike other plants in your Native Plant Victory Garden, wild ginger is grown from a piece of root, and not seed.
Most gardeners spend most of their time trying to get rid of dandelions. In the great depression and World War II, though, they were popular to gather for soups, teas, even dandelion wine. They grow like a weed because they are – why not try gathering this native plant that you don’t even need to plant to gather!
All sorts of other native plants, flowers, shade, and foods better for planting other seasons, can be explored throughout the year. We hope you continue to be a part of our seed library to get ideas for your own garden – and tell us about what you grow!