4th of July and Victory Gardens – a classic pair

zucchini harvest fourth of july
My 2019 zucchini harvest, to date

The 4th of July always brings back memories of our backyard vegetable garden when I was growing up.  It was a goal to harvest our first zucchini by (or before!) this date in western Pennsylvania.

This July 4th, I am reminded of one of my very first blog posts on the Maryland Extension’s now-retired Grow It Eat It blog, in which I shared ‘Why I grow Vegetables’.  I would like to share it here with you now:

There are many reasons people grow their own vegetables – they taste better than that store-bought stuff, they are healthier than that store-bought stuff (studies have been done!), you can get more varieties, it’s a fun way to get outside and get moving, it’s cost-effective. While I certainly gain all these benefits from growing my own, the truth of the matter is that I grow vegetables because of my Dad.

When I was a little girl, every summer I was always out working in our little backyard vegetable garden with Dad. He taught me how to grow tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, beans, and others, I’m sure. This was just the way of things back then. Everybody had a garden. In fact, to this day I cannot buy zucchini in the grocery store because ‘you are supposed to grow your own’.

I was 13 years old when my Dad passed away suddenly. I vaguely remember trying to have a garden for a few years after that, but without him it was no longer a priority. Anyway, I was busy trying to grow up – go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house (not necessarily all in that order!). It was when the house came, and I had my own land, that I was drawn again to growing vegetables. This was just the way of things, remember. I started small: a tomato in my flower garden, a hill of zucchini over there…Slowly but surely, each year my garden expanded, slowly replacing all the (inedible) ornamental plants that were taking up precious usable space.

As time went on, I found myself thinking more and more about my days out in the garden with Dad. Today I realize that some of the best memories I have of him were while we were out there, growing vegetables. When I’m out in my own garden, somehow I feel closer to him. I am honoring his memory, and carrying on his traditions. I still grow zucchini on mounds, like he did. I tie up my tomato plants with strips of old cloth, like he did. And when somebody asks me why I do these things, I proudly reply, ‘because my Dad did it that way.’

growing vegetables at home
My 2019 Vegetable Garden – Thanks Dad!

Do you have a special gardening story?  I’d love to hear it!  Post a comment here or contact me.

Happy Independence Day!

4 thoughts on “4th of July and Victory Gardens – a classic pair”

  1. Wow! Your garden is bigger than I imagined. If I ever shake my fear of bugs I may try to check it out in person!

    • It’s actually only about 10’x25′ – just looks bigger because it’s filled out nicely right now. As for the bugs, I have a strict policy of only letting the ‘good’ bugs stay.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Really great sunny spot for the garden! I notice my basil grows exponentially when planted with my tomatoes. Can you talk about why that is? is is symbiotic? And is it too soon for pole beans? I planted what the garden center had, and they are doing well, but someone told me its not their season.

    • Tomato and basil are traditional companion plants because, I think, of the association of both with Italian (think marinara sauce) cooking. Basil will help repel insects that may be a pest to tomatoes, but the only thing I can think of as a benefit of growing basil near the tomato is if the hot summer sun is too harsh on the herb and the tomato might be shielding it. Basil is ‘full sun’, though.

      As for pole beans – it all depends on where you are located and the associated hardiness zone. Pole beans are a ‘summer crop’, and here in Maryland I seeded mine in May. I’m harvesting right now. Maybe look up the Extension services for you state – they should be able to help you figure out what to plant when.


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