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War Gardens, Victory Gardens or Pandemic Gardens: The History Behind Why People Grow Plants in Hard Times with Maggie Stucky, Ep 193



Gardening is already a popular hobby, but the pandemic has revived an interest in growing plants. Many of us plant parents turned to gardening to keep busy, improve our mental health, and even grow food as we were forced to spend more time at home. Similar to this occurrence is the Victory Gardens of the past. In this episode, Maggie Stuckey joins us to review the history of Victory Gardens and their surprising role in society throughout the last hundred years. We also explore why people are so drawn to plants in tough times!


In this episode, we learn:

  • [00:00] War Gardens, Victory Gardens, or Pandemic Gardens
  • [05:30] Maggie shares an excerpt from her book about gardening as a manifestation of hope
  • [08:07] Growing up in rural South Carolina where farming and vegetable gardens were prominent
  • [10:46] How Maggie’s book on container gardening became a go-to gardening resource, challenging the belief that vegetables couldn't be grown in containers
  • [13:46] Drawing parallels between the current gardening movement and past Victory Gardens
  • [14:13] Where can you find trusted products for gardening, such as potting mix, garden soil, and fertilizer?
  • [16:18] Where can you listen to enchanting wind chimes and choose from various colors, sizes, and sounds?
  • [20:47] What is the history of Victory gardens?
  • [26:45] Community gardens during World War II in Boston, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis
  • [27:50] The concept and history behind community gardens
  • [29:40] What motivates people to start gardens during challenging times like war, pandemics, or personal struggles?
  • [33:22] The therapeutic nature of gardening and how it simplifies life and reconnects people with nature
  • [36:36] The importance of in-person human interactions and actions
  • [37:18] What are common mistakes made by new gardeners and why do they occur?
  • [44:16] Why did Maggie include edible flowers in her book?
  • [47:40] What should beginner gardeners grow in three containers for a successful first garden experience?
  • [50:26] Heartwarming stories in Maggie's book and the one that warmed her heart the most
  • [53:55] Where can you find Maggie’s book, The Container Victory Garden: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Own Groceries?


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The History of Victory Gardens in America

Wartime efforts promoted victory gardens during World War I. Americans were encouraged to grow their food so that more resources could be sent overseas. The concept was revived during World War II when victory gardens were responsible for producing an estimated 40% of the country's vegetables.

In addition to supporting the war effort, victory gardens had other benefits. They helped alleviate food shortages and provided a sense of community and patriotism. Victory gardens also encouraged self-sufficiency, which was especially important during times of economic hardship!


The Modern-Day Victory Garden

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a resurgence of interest in victory gardens. As people spend more time at home, many of us have turned to gardening.

Victory gardens are easy to grow because they can be any size and fit any home. Container gardening, in particular, is becoming more popular. People can grow vegetables and herbs in containers on balconies, patios, and even windowsills.

Victory gardens also provide a sense of empowerment during uncertain times. Gardeners can take control of their food supply and reduce their dependence on others. Additionally, growing these gardens can also bring pride and accomplishment as they see their labor bear fruit.


Gardening in Containers: A Beginner's Guide

Container gardening has become a popular choice for those with limited space or access to traditional gardening methods. In her recent book, The Container Victory Garden: A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Own Groceries, Maggie provides valuable insights and guidance for anyone interested in this method of gardening.

As she points out, containers offer the opportunity to cultivate fresh produce and herbs right at your doorstep. She recommends starting with three containers, and offers a simple yet diverse selection of crops:

  • Varieties of tomatoes
  • An assortment of familiar and novel herbs
  • Pansies for springtime delight
  • A selection of greens such as lettuce, spinach, kale, and Asian greens

With these choices, beginner gardeners can enjoy a journey that spans multiple seasons, savoring the joys of fresh ingredients and the pride of nurturing their own sustenance.


Edible Flowers

Rather than being viewed as mere decorative items, Maggie highlights the ability of edible flowers to add magic to culinary creations. Edible flowers not only bring vibrancy and beauty to dishes but also offer unexpected flavors.

Pansies, violas, and other edible flowers are not only visually appealing but also serve as pollinators, thus promoting the overall health and productivity of a garden!


Gardening and Community

During our conversation, Maggie and I discussed how gardening can significantly affect people and communities.

Gardening is more than just growing food — it can offer us hope, peace, and a sense of belonging. It's definitely an excellent way to make a positive impact on this planet. This hobby of ours can also encourage various acts of kindness, like sharing your food with neighbors, giving herbs and flowers as gifts, and promoting community!


Whether you call it a war garden, a victory garden, or a pandemic garden, the idea of growing your own food has a rich history. Victory gardens have provided food, community, and patriotism during times of war and economic hardship.

Today, victory gardens are more significant than ever as people try to become more self-sufficient and ensure a steady supply of fresh produce. With the right tools and techniques, you can start your own victory garden!


Mentioned in our conversation:


Thank you to our episode sponsors:

Espoma Organic

Set your garden up for success with the right products! Espoma Organic is dedicated to making safe indoor and outdoor gardening products for people, pets, and the planet. They have an amazing variety of high-quality, organic potting mixes, garden soil, fertilizers, and pest control products that are organic and eco-friendly. To top it all off, they have a huge sustainability commitment with a 100% solar powered plant, zero waste manufacturing and eco-friendly packaging.

Visit to find your local Espoma dealer or check my Amazon storefront.

Wind River Chimes

Bring more peace, serenity, and magic into your home with chimes. Wind River is a Virginia-based company creating premium handcrafted and hand-tuned wind chimes for over 35 years. If you are looking for a new way to grow joy in your life and find a moment of peace, a Wind River chime is the perfect addition for your home or garden. Plus, it's a perfect personalized gift for your loved ones!

Visit and use code GROWINGJOY to receive free engraving on all Corinthian Bells wind chimes.


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