Pandemic Brings a Breath of New Life
By Alaina Hayden
Photography By Alaina Hayden
HOUSTON – During both World Wars, Americans were called to duty to help their country. Some were called to war and some were called to work. Some were able to help in their own backyards.
“Our food is fighting! A garden will make your rations go further,” a Victory Garden poster slogan exclaimed to the American people.
Victory Gardens were meant to create fresh produce where rations were short and life was uncertain. During the Coronavirus pandemic, people across the world are being asked to stay at home and save lives.
Because of social distancing, gardening has become one of America’s new favorite pastimes. This activity is popular with those with a love of outdoors and nimble hands, such as Glenda Arnett.
“It really gives someone something to do and I think we need to be occupied during this particular time. We don’t need to be sitting on the couch watching television or playing video games,” Arnett said.
It turns out Arnett is not alone. Across the country new backyard gardens are sprouting. It’s led to a national shortage of seeds, according to NPR. People are afraid of running out of vegetables, so they have turned to growing produce in their backyards.
Guy Cagle has been gardening for over twenty-five years and has learned a lot through trial and error. He advises new gardeners to pay attention to what grows well in your area.
“What grows here isn’t going to grow even in the Valley. It’s not going to grow in Missouri or Maine. So you really have to watch it,” Cagle said.
Cagle likes to have his plants listen to music when they are growing. He said he isn’t sure if they actually respond to the music, but he likes to think they do.
Living History Farm reported over 20 million Americans answered the call to help harvest over 9 million tons of fresh produce. These gardens made a difference during the war effort to prevent shortages at grocery stores.
“Go back to the old Victory Gardens. Go back and read on that! Whatever you grew is what you ate. Hopefully we don’t get to that point, but it’s good to know how to do that,” Cagle said.
As for Arnett, she hopes to grow her tomatoes and take this time to heal. “Since all this social distancing, my kids don’t really like me to go anywhere. So I got some seeds, and things are coming up so it’s gonna be good,” Arnett said.
For information on what grows well in your area, you can look at the Old Farmer’s Almanac online or a local garden supply store. Austinites will be successful growing carrots, asparagus, and parsnips in their home garden.