from the kitchen poster

In 1942 the United States government appealed to Americans to grow gardens. Their slogan, “Sow the seeds of victory” was meant to encourage self-sufficiency and to have healthy, nutritional food readily available. These gardens became known as Victory Gardens, and were promoted by towns and businesses as vital to the war effort.

Gardening experts from every state gave their advice to the leaders of this program which caught on almost as fast as wildflowers can spread. Speakers visited towns to give pertinent instruction on growing fruits and vegetables; along with canning classes.

 All they would have had to do was ask my grandparents for practical wisdom in knowing what works, and how to garden without spending great funds. Because my grandparents had depended on their gardens for years to feed themselves as their parents had taught them the sagaciousness of taking care of their basic needs themselves.

Today we have now actually experienced bare grocery shelves, limits on the amount of food we can purchase, and closed schools. Each reminds us our children need food and possess boundless energy which needs to be put to good use. Gardening seems like a good idea.

 Since many of you (like me) have taken to cutting our own bangs, we will not allow ourselves to be seen in public. (It is for good reasons my mother hid the scissors from me when, as a young child, I cut my younger brother and sister’s hair. Looking at some of the hair styles considered vogue, I may have done a better job than she was letting me believe.) It’s only natural to hide in the garden. A scarecrow may not even be needed.   

Garden seed catalogs are doing a banner business this year. In fact some have even refunded money because they do not have the seed the customer has ordered. Minnesota seed potato growers are actually one of the bright spots in the ag economy. It’s about time we realize how important every segment of agriculture is.

How-to-garden YouTubes are popular right now as we want to learn the best way to grow everyday foods like corn and beans; along with exotic ones such as endive and cow peas. If those are the only vegetable seeds remaining on the shelf, we realize that any vegetable is better than starving.

Those fortunate to have gardening experience are now the most sought after persons during coffee breaks at the office. At the appropriate six-foot distance, people are discussing what they have planted in their gardens. No one is laughing or listening through sheer politeness. Gardening is the thing to do.

As far as I am concerned, it is one of the positives which can come out of this whole pandemic thing. My farmer and I have always enjoyed gardening, so it’s life as usual this spring. It’s gratifying to know that others are also going to share this pleaure.

There is more to gardening than just growing food for eating. I find myself refreshed as my hands get dirty digging in the dirt; my mind relaxes as I hear the multiple species of birds of tweeting out their particular songs; and sunshine on my shoulder really does feel good.

One of my Oma’s favorite hymns is also one of mine. Perhaps you will find yourself singing it too as fill your buckets with the produce of your garden.

“I come to the garden alone,

While the dew is still on the roses,

And the voice I hear falling on my ear

The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own;

And the joy we share as we tarry there,

None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice

Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,

And the melody that He gave to me

Within my heart is ringing.”

—   “In The Garden,” by Charles A. Miles

Renae B. Vander Schaaf is an independent writer, author and speaker. Contact her at (605) 530-0017 or