In a throwback to old school living and embracing a simpler life, many families are turning to the World War I & II tradition of planting backyard victory gardens. In those days, our grandparents and great grandparents grew vegetable gardens to boost morale and safeguard the nation’s food supply. Families today are resurrecting the tradition as a hobby and a way to provide a fresh and affordable supply of food for their families.

If the idea of growing your own vegetables is appealing but intimidating, you are not alone. Here are a few things to know before you get started!

1. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

You don’t need a huge plot of land, a giant backyard, or fancy garden beds! You can buy a raised bed from a retailer and follow the instructions on the box. You can fashion your own raised bed with scrap lumber and a few bags of dirt and compost. You can turn up the ground with a shovel, pull out the grass and weeds, and plant right in the yard. You can grow individual plants in pots, 5-gallon buckets, storage tubs, or even straw bales. There are so many options!

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2. Start small and see how it goes!

If you have no experience, you might want to start with just a few plants and learn as you go. Use your first summer garden to find out how plants grow in your area. Many veggies can be grown directly from seed, but you may find that buying transplants from your local nursery or home improvement store is a good way to get started. Many of these businesses are offering delivery or curbside pick-up.

3. The internet is your friend.

Type your question into the good old search bar and see what you find! Getting started can be as simple as typing “grow tomatoes” in the search bar and learning from the experience of others. You might also be surprised to know how many of your friends have just the advice you need. A quick question on social media could lead to local friends with hands-on knowledge who are happy to help you get started and answer all of your questions along the way.

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4. The worst thing that can happen is you give it a try.

If you give it a good try and it’s just not for you, you’re out absolutely nothing aside from the knowledge that you gave it your best shot. You may find yourself better equipped to try again next year. Or maybe you’ll gain an extra appreciation for your local farmers and happily support their small businesses.

5. Gardening is about more than just plants.

Pulling weeds, gathering your harvest, and tending to your plants can be great exercise! It can also be a family affair and you may find that your kids are learning more than just science as they watch the plants grow and produce. You can help support friends and neighbors in need when you share the fruits of your gardening labor and let’s not forget that sunshine can be a great mood booster!

The reasons to start a garden are plentiful and now is a great time to reclaim an old tradition and start your own victory garden!

P.S. New to gardening? Check out The Backyard Gardener for more tips to get started.

backyard garden

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Mandy McCarty Harris

Mandy McCarty Harris lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband, young daughter, three dogs, and eleven backyard chickens. She writes about living happily in the messy middle of life. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and at