With uncertainty over what will be available in supermarkets due to disruptions in the food supply chain, many are taking to growing their own fruits, herbs and vegetables at home on windowsills and in backyards. Home gardening is as locally sourced as food can get. And it is also something that people have a history of turning to during crises.

Victory Gardens date back to WWI, when President Woodrow Wilson stated, “Food will win the war.” He directed that public lands be used to grow vegetables to sustain the population. The Bureau of Education launched the United States School Garden Army which taught schoolchildren to garden. Wilson called gardening “just as real and patriotic an effort as the building of ships or the firing of cannon.”

But Victory Gardens really took off during WWII. Around one third of the vegetables produced by the United States from 1941-1945 came from Victory Gardens. By growing their own, Americans on the home front lowered the price of vegetables needed by the War Department to feed overseas troops. This saved money that could be spent elsewhere on the military. By May 1943, there were 18 million victory gardens in the United States.

While home gardening has always been a serious hobby for some, now we are faced with the COVID epidemic, and many more people are turning to garden centers and florists for seedlings and plants to start their own crops. This way, you can guarantee the safety of your produce by growing it yourself.

The most popular home gardening fruit (not vegetable) is tomato. For successful growing, heed the following:

Pick the sunniest spot in your garden. Tomatoes love sunshine. The more, the better.

Water well each morning. The plants need about an inch deep per week. (Remember how juicy they are.) In summer, water twice a day.

Use a blanket of mulch, which will protect the plant from overheating in the summer.

Prune side leaves from the main stem so that the plant focuses on growing the fruit.

Stake or cage the plants so the fruit doesn’t sit on the soil and become bruised.

For more tips on growing tomatoes, come visit me at Enchanted Florist, located at 65-10 Grand Avenue in Maspeth. And of course, I carry several varieties of tomatoes, from cherry to beefsteak that are sure to give your green thumbs a workout.