in partnership
Victory Gardens were popular during WW I and WW II as a way of supporting the war effort and boosting morale. (Image: The Works Seattle)<br><p></p>

Grow Your Own 'Victory Garden'

The mission of The Works Seattle is 'to bring people together through shared experiences'. The Capitol Hill biz is known for being part summer camp, part school, all awesome. However, due to Gov. Inslee's 'Stay Home Stay Healthy' order, it's not possible for groups of people to gather in person, so The Works is now offering online classes, both instant access and live.

Seattle Refined: Hey, Kellie! So you are the founder of The Works Seattle. Can you tell us about that?
Kellie Phelan: So [at] 'The Works,' we call ourselves a DIY hands-on community, We teach everything from cooking to gardening to creative crafts - all with the mission of bringing people together around our table.

With everything going on in the world, there has been a resurgence in Victory Gardens. What are Victory Gardens?
Victory Gardens started in World Wars I and II - it was basically the government encouraging people to plant a garden in their backyard or in their plot of land to reduce pressure on the public food supply. And so it was this idea of having a little more self-sufficiency. Interestingly in the research I did about this, one of the kind of side motivations of encouraging people to plant Victory Gardens during that time was also to help boost morale.

We could all really use a boost right now.
Obviously we're not in wartime, but we are in kind of a once-in-a-lifetime event of this global pandemic that I don't think anybody could have anticipated.

So why is now a good time to start planting a Victory Garden?
You know I think people are trying to reduce their trips to the grocery store, maybe you're thinking more about where your food comes from during quarantine or organic food. Maybe you have kids at home, and you're looking for ways to teach them where their food comes from and grows. Maybe you're just looking for an excuse to get outside and do some, what I would call moving meditation - whatever your reasons are, now is the perfect time to start.

So some of us have black thumbs - I know you won't judge me - can anybody do this?
Anybody can do this, whether you have a backyard or a community garden plot that you're able to tend to these days, or maybe you're just able to put some containers in the sunniest part of your yard. Maybe that's out and about on your balcony, or maybe it's herbs on your windowsill.

What are the basic things you should have if you want to try?

  • Sun: The first thing is sun. Six to eight hours is ideal, so what I'd encourage you to do since we're home these days is watch the sun. Watch the sun travel around the yard, watch the sun move around your apartment, find those sunny spots. Watch your backyard, watch where the shade is, watch where the sun is.
  • Soil: After that, you're going to need some good loose soil, nutrient-dense soil, so I recommend for people starting out a 50/50 blend of potting soil and compost.
  • Seeds or Starts: And the last thing you need are just seeds. Seeds or starts, and when I say starts, I'm referring to the 3-4 inch plants. I'm seeing them in my couple of grocery store runs I've done in the past two weeks.
  • Water: And you need water - most of us are lucky to have access to water.

Ok, I'm going to put you on the spot - in terms of something that is difficult to kill, what would you recommend we begin with?
Things that are hard to grow, things like tomatoes and peppers, it's because they grow for a very long time and need a lot of tending for them to mature. But in terms of things on the opposite end of the spectrum that are easy to grow, anything where you're eating the greens - so lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes are one of my favorite crops to recommend to beginning gardeners because for one they're easy to grow, hard to kill [and] two they grow in 30 days or less.

Do you recommend that people mix in some flowers with the veggies?
Yeah, for sure. First of all, flowers bring us joy. You can for sure grow flowers while you're growing food, and besides being able to DIY your own bouquet at home flowers bring those pollinators and those beneficial insects.

How can people learn about this?
My personal passion, one of them, is growing food at home. That's what 'The Works' was born out of. So we have a digital on-demand class [where] you get your access, and you can watch it, pause it, go back and watch it again. Later you'll have references so you can go back. It's called Growing Your Own Victory Garden.

We'll walk you through everything you need to know. We have a publicly available discount code that is good for 50% off for any of our digital classes, and it's with the intention of it being to anyone who's working on the frontlines so hospital workers, doctors, nurses, anyone in healthcare, grocery store workers, delivery drivers as anyone who's been affected by unemployment or reduced employment.

If you can't afford to pay, just drop us a line. Nobody's going to be turned away. We're really trying to show up still as a source of light and still connection for our community during this difficult time.

Visit The Works Seattle for more info about all their offerings.