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Gardening— America’s new hobby

Gardening has been one activity that lots of people are doing while spending more time at home. It’s an activity in which the whole family can participate. Let’s take a look at the concept of the Victory Gardens.

The Victory Garden
Victory gardens

Dig For Victory Garden at Quorn & Woodhouse. Quorn is laid out to appear as it would in the 1940s, as a typical LNER station in the countryside. Great Central Railway GCR.

During WWII, the National War Garden Commission encouraged Americans to contribute to the war effort by planting, fertilizing, harvesting and storing their own fruits and vegetables so that more food could be exported to our allies. Europe was experiencing a severe food crisis because so many farm workers were recruited to military service. Any available land was sought for growing food such as school and company grounds, parks, backyards and vacant lots. Victory Gardens in World War II by Sarah Sundin was published in the UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County newsletter. She said, “Despite rationing, the average American ate better during the war than before. The Victory Garden was part of the reason.”

The Gangster Gardener

And here in California, Ron Finley, AKA the Gangster Gardener, has been encouraging city dwellers in the LA area for years, to grow wherever they can find space. He is determined to change South Los Angeles from a food desert to a food forest. Ron Finley wants his actions to be educational, inspiring, and nutritious. He wants kids to grow up with the option of healthy food, instead of fried, fattening staples. He wants to sweep up and transform his street, his hood, the city of LA and communities everywhere.

You don’t have any land? Can you find an empty bucket?

Victory gardens are growing in popularity again during the current COVID-19 pandemic. While some people are transforming their existing green spaces into gardens, others are finding creative ways to grow vegetables and herbs in city environments. I recall hearing Finley say, “You don’t have any land? Well can you find an empty bucket? I don’t care what it’s made out of (although it’s better if it’s not plastic), fill it with a little dirt, add a few seeds, give it a little water and you have a mini garden!”

A key goal of these gardens is to reduce the number of visits to the grocery store, but people seem to also be discovering how rewarding this hands-on activity can be. For many, victory gardens are allowing them to spend time outdoors more safely and engage in a new pastime that provides food— and fun.100s of tomatoes

People New to Gardening

When should I plant my garden is one of the questions I hear most often. Vegetable garden planting is simply based on the idea that cool weather crops need cool weather to grow well and warm weather crops need warm weather. Often it takes a year or two to know when is the time to plant for your area. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and we have many microclimates in our region.

I have to admit that I have a hard time creating a journal for my garden activities. It’s really the best way to plan for the next season, if you note when you planted, temperatures and what the results turned out to be.

If you are lucky enough to live in an area of the country where you can garden all year, there is more flexibility in what and when to plant. Basically, it comes down to deciding which are winter and summer crops. Because my summers are very hot, I need to have most of my summer plants well established before the warm months so they can withstand the hot sun.caulflower colored

If you live in an area that experiences freezing in winter, your growing season comes between the last killing frost in spring and the first killing frost or freeze in fall. The exact dates will vary from year to year, but you will soon notice there’s an average for your area. In most regions of the United States, the last killing frost comes in late April or May and the first killing frost comes in late September or October.

I found this handy season-by-season planting guide at Harvest to Table’s website.

Quick Season-by-Season Planting Guide
  • Early Spring, as soon as the ground can be turned with a shovel but before the last frost: Broccoli plants (starts, not seeds), Cabbage plants, Endive, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Onion sets, Parsley, Peas, Radishes, Spinach, Turnips (these plants want to mature before average temperatures reach much above 65°F).carrots & parsnips
  • Mid-Spring, at about the time of the last killing frost: Carrots, Cauliflower plants, Beets, Onion seeds, Parsnips, Swiss Chard; two weeks after the last frost: Beans, Corn, Potatoes, early Tomato seeds.
  • Early Summer, when the soil has warmed to 65°-85° range: Lima Beans, Cantaloupe, Celery plants, Crenshaw melons, Cucumbers, Eggplant plants, Pumpkins, Pepper plants, Potatoes for winter, Squash, Tomato plants, Watermelons.
  • Mid-Summer—Fall, plant in early summer: Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Radishes, Spinach, Turnips (these plants will mature in the cool temperatures of autumn).
TG squash and green beans BIG

Foreground tower: green beans and squash. Rear tower: basil and new green beans plants.

Now I’m over 60!

Now it’s much harder to dig in the soil, bend over to pull weeds and hold the hose to water the plants.

Now I have produce that sometimes I have to give away because I have so much.

Now I have produce that tastes so much better than what I can buy.

Now I have produce that grows so much faster than my traditional garden.

Now I have produce that saves me so much money.

Now I have produce that uses so much less water.

Gwen O’Neill has been a gardener for over 40 years and has always been a passionate cook. Her own health challenges led her to experiencing a variety of healing modalities. After finding that her health improved with eating more whole food and improving her nutrition using a real, whole food based supplement called Juice Plus, she committed to sharing this experience with others. The Tower Garden by Juice Plus makes it easy to grow produce right outside your kitchen door.

trio plus omega pic

Juice Plus real food!





oneill.gwentower garden trio




  1. CHERYL GOMES says

    Gwen O’Neill you are truly amazing. You have inspired our family to grow and eat more fresh fruits and veggies. Your children and now your grandchildren are gardening.

    Thank you!!!

  2. Angela devictoria says

    This is a great web-site! Lots of interesting ideas to keep you healthy!

  3. I love how there has been a revival in gardening! It makes my heart sing 🙂

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