Growing veggies as a cost cutterDuring World War II, people planted "victory gardens" to help supplement the food rations that were passed out. That may be happening again.
By: Monica Isley, Lake County News Chronicle
During World War II, people planted "victory gardens" to help supplement the food rations that were passed out.
That may be happening again.
Last month, the seven Lake County master gardeners held a class in vegetable gardening and 50 people showed up--about double what they had expected.
"I think people were here because of the economics," Kit Sitter, one of the master gardeners who also owns Maple Ridge Nursery.
The participants were a mix of experience. Of those who filled out the end-of-class surveys, three considered themselves advanced gardeners, while 16 specified intermediate and 12 admitted to being beginners.
"I think the economy may have been responsible for so many new gardeners," Sitter said.
The top question on all of their lists, no matter where they lived, was how to deal with deer, for whom a garden is merely a smörgåsbord put out for their benefit. The instructors talked about deer, as well as rabbits and slugs, two more pests that endanger crops.
Most participants also wanted information about extending the season, which is pretty short in an area where the last frost could be as late as June 10. They learned about plant covers, available at greenhouses and catalogs, that can give gardeners 3-6 weeks more growing season.
They learned to check seed packages for maturity dates, a very important consideration in short-summer area. They learned about Russian tomatoes, a new variety which may have to be started from seed, since plants aren't available locally. It would be worth it, Sitter said, because they're very cold resistant.
The master gardeners talked about starting a garden from scratch in a currently sodded area; about traditional ground-level gardens, and those grown in raised beds.
Container gardens was another topic for consideration.
"There's always a little space for growing things, even in town," Sitter said. "Even in an apartment, a few tomato plants in pots can be grown."
The vegetable gardening class was held at Two Harbors High School through Community Education. The Master Gardeners, who are trained through the Extension Service and are required to offer their services to the public, can be reached through Wayne Seidel in the Lake County extension office, (218) 834-8377.
Seidel will field questions and refer the caller to the master gardener who specializes in that subject.
Meanwhile, when fall arrives, a few more local tables will be filled with produce that residents grew themselves. It may not be a way around ration stamps these days, but it will help stretch already tight dollars.