We can totally dig this trend.
Gardener working in soil
Credit: Getty / Alessandra Bucci

Bedtime stories and bread baking aren't the only things making a comeback during the COVID-19 pandemic. Victory gardens are too.

Compared to spring 2019, 36 percent more Americans are growing vegetables, herbs and tomatoes this year, with 65 percent of those individuals saying their decision was tied to coronavirus in some way, according to new data from Scotts Miracle-Gro.

The concept of gardening during times of scarcity or stress dates back to World War I and World War II. In 1917, the National War Garden Commission first asked Americans to grow produce in backyards, parks and gardens to feed their families and those in the military. The practice was again encouraged in late 1941 just after the Pearl Harbor attacks, as the U.S. ramped up World War II efforts. During the early 1940s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that about 18 million families planted victory gardens, increasing the country's fresh fruit and vegetable supply by almost 40 percent. (Inspired to start your own? Here's a great place to start!)

Today, victory gardens are having a resurgence for a variety of reasons, including:

  • The pandemic is happening during spring planting season.
  • Health experts are recommending as few supermarket trips as possible to limit crowds.
  • Growing your own fruits and vegetables is more affordable than buying them (gardening tends to get more popular during every recession) and can alleviate any worries about potential food scarcity.
  • Gardening offers a bonus educational activity for those who are homeschooling their kids.
  • It's a relaxing hobby and way to spend time outdoors—and take a break from the news.
  • Some farmers' markets have decided to close or postpone opening day to honor shelter-in-place restrictions, so this fills in the fresh produce gaps.

If you're ready to dig in and plant your own victory garden, check your home's growing zone to determine the best time to get started. And remember: There's no wrong time to start a container garden or herb garden inside.

Then you can start deciding and purchasing your seeds. Many are available online via retailers like those listed below so you don't have to visit a physical store:

Plan ahead, if you can, as many retailers are experiencing such high demand that they've paused taking new orders or have delayed deliveries.

And if you come up shy on the seed shopping spree online, keep in mind that you can also grow fruits and vegetables from food scraps. Growing new food from what would otherwise have been food waste? That sounds like a victory to us.