My Not-A-Victory-Garden Garden

I’m not sure why I have such an issue with the term ‘victory garden’, and untangling all the reasons why will take way too long, especially the way I write. So instead, I just have a garden. It’s not going to defeat COVID-19, and it’s not going to protect anyone in the way that wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing your hands will. But it’s got three kinds of kale, three kinds of beans, and little shoots of garlic that make me smile when I look at them.

An overhead view of a small, square garden in a plywood box, set on gravel. Small kale plants grow along the edge of the box closest to us, in front of a black, triangular wire trellis. Behind the garden is a lawn of grass, a row of plants, and then a tall wooden fence.
It’s small, it’s crude, and it’s mine. I love it.

If planting a garden is an act of creation, then I’d further argue that it’s a collaborative art project. Me and Mother Nature, working in tandem. I supplied the bean trellises (they’re tacky in a punk, goth kind of way that I absolutely love), put the seeds in the ground, and give ‘er an occasional watering. She does the real magic. This year, I’ve got: Russian, green, and purple kale; pole beans; green and purple bush beans; black and red cherry tomatoes; a jalapeno pepper; sweet Spanish onions; some garlic that had started sprouting in my fridge; and a little strawberry plant.

A bright green jalapeno pepper plant sprouting out of dark brown soil. Its pointed leaves turn upwards to face the sun.
My baby jalapeno pepper plant. I like to think that
planting it was an act of art – performance art, if nothing else.
An overhead view of a flower pot containing a tomato plant, a smaller flowerpot with a weed sprouting from it, and a strawberry plant.
From left to right: my black cherry tomato, a little weed named Dennis that I found while digging (he unfortunately has since withered), and my strawberry plant.

It’s not a victory garden because I’m not trying to claim victory over anything by making it. I’m making it because I love cooking with fresh veggies (cooking is itself another form of art, I would gladly argue), and because it feels good to be working alongside nature rather than against it. That’s of course not to say that we shouldn’t be trying to stop the spread of COVID-19 – absoLUTEly not. But that’s a fight to be fought in a different way: by supporting those still working outside of their homes and by maintaining social distancing. When it comes to taking care of ourselves and others, it shouldn’t be about fighting. It should be about finding ways to support and nurture and make the most of what we have.

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