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Victory Gardens 2.0 interview #315 with Diane Blazek |National Garden Bureau
12th April 2020 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 00:29:28

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National Garden Bureau

It’s hard to keep up. Our role isn’t answers its information and inspiration so that’s what we’re trying to do!

Well, all sorts of people have been asking me about victory gardens so I am so excited I saw your email and here you are already! It's Friday, March 27, 2020 and we are right in the middle of the Great CoronaVirus Pandemic and here is: 

Diane Blazek from the National Garden Bureau

I am very happy to be here, thank you for asking, it's kind of a funny story and don’t we need funny stories at this time? I have been with the organization for 10 years and the organization celebrating our 100th anniversary. 

So as a group, as we were planning for the anniversary we had no idea that this pandemic was going to happen. Last week when we could still go to the office, we were sitting around the office, when we could still go and I looked up on my shelf and I looked up and saw the manual and thought why not roll out what was produced and published

our founder wrote the manual and was part of the whole 

the timing would be right

mr. james burdett

in the 1920s and 30s and 40s by pulling all this information together.

It is a great time in our history. I have been talking to seed suppliers and today a facebook group was looking for someone to go the 65 miles to the local cow dairy for manure. I'm an elementary school teacher and I'm hoping my parents are going to grow some gardens with their students.

Today we just published another blog post, we're working with, with 10 ideas to get kids involved. 

I spent like 4 hours yesterday just trying to create a 20 minute math lesson video.

you can get your kids involved in a victory garden. It can be fun for kids to research

1943 or today

2 things to start with

but there are tools online which they dd not have back in 1943 you can enter your zip code into the USDA and get your zone. There are multiple sites too.

you can enter and using your zone

without knowing those things

what it is to plant

Those are our two tips.

know your zone

know your last frost date.

free organic garden

You know, last year my husband and I built a free garden course and an Organic Oasis Guidebook to help you keep track of all that information together.


the next step is very important for what you grow in your garden. I'm very bad at this part, I'm more of an impulsive buyer.

Do your planning.

Make a list of what your family will eat

Think about how much will they consume.

Are you doing this in a community garden? Will you share with other family members or neighbors?

Think about when it will be ready to eat? How much of it will you be able to eat. If there is more then you can reasonably eat what are you going to do with it? Can you can it or freeze or otherwise preserve the extra produce you will have. I can see a produce sharing app etc popping up this year.

That will carry on to thinking about specific varieties of what you want to grow.

If you are a beginning gardener and you want to grow a tomato that's fine just grow any tomato but as you get more experienced

difference in varieties

amount of space when they grow

some are more unique

color variety

different tasting produce

exactly what you want to put in your garden.

This is so timely, I was just talking with my mom, and her experience with vegetables. My mom has been a gardener forever, and I can't remember a weekend or summer day with her without her pruners in her hand. And she said she has a hard time getting a tomato that tastes good.

I told her about Melissa Norris' tip to get a San Marzano paste tomato that I ordered some from Baker Creek and Johnny's to try to grow this year. And she said I wonder if there is a Long Island tomato?

it really is

I run two organization


All Americas Selections

we feel like experienced and new gardeners

all america selection winners

tested by professionals

We know that taste is rather selective but the majority of judges said, taste is really good

on our website subscription

maybe she wants grape tomatoes


she wants something with a high brix, that’s the sweetness measurement

It's amazing the amount of information on the web

for us you can go to All Americas Selections

you are going to see a lot of information varieties

  • hybrids
  • easier to grow
  • more disease
  • taste is still

Wouldn't it be fun to have my students write with a sequence for planting

I have the student to do this, he's always growing things, every snack we get, he's like I saved this green bean to plant, and I'm like it's the middle of November I mean we can try but I don't want you to get your hopes up.

a little flow chart

we have been talking about a

so as far as our sequence

Next you want to figure out where

who what when

plan your garden space

where do you live

do you have in ground space

do you want to use containers?

are you on a balcony

this tomato will

a lot of people try to push their growing zones Don't do it!

Plants are not like humans, they don't want to be in the shade. 

There are some places, depending on where you are located and the amount of shade

maybe in the desert

most of the country you are going to want 6-8 hours a day.

There are some days in the hot summer in Montana been where we might have a day or two it's hot, but not enough compared to the number of days of sun you will need.

you may need to provide afternoon shade

the next steep then once you know what you are going to plant

know what your growing soil is

if you are digging up part of your yard

do a soil test

probably going to have to amend your soil

filling it with some growing medium

I have been very successful mixing my own growing my own

  • peat
  • topsoil
  • compost

you can buy pre-made mixes

Which is the easiest to do which they did not have back in the early 1900s

base for what you are going to grow

you are growing these plants for food your body you need to make sure your pants have food to produce all these peppers or whatever they are producing.

I love that because my mom used to argue with me about the beginning of our free garden course was composting and she said don't start out talking about something so ucky.

You just gave one of our tips too!

Just start doing it, it's super easy to save your banana peals

don’t toss away the excess! And what would typically be the waste! 

start a compost pile today you will be very happy you did when it's ready and time to put on your garden.

I would be remiss not to ask, people I feel like are hesitant because they are afraid they are going to get critters like raccoons. We live in the woods, we have skunks, chipmunks, my mom says we don't live in a city.

suburb of Chicago, yeah, sure they do, if they're not getting in my compost they're probably living in the garden or the neighbors, do they eat it all no?

they’re wildlife! We’re pushing them off our land!

they get in the compost and is there still plenty left? Yes of course!

Build a bin with a lid on it

One of my neighbors was concerned about the smell of my compost

  • our lots are only 1/3 of an acre
  • it’s just a nice earthy smell! 

tell people don't worry about that they have other things to worry about!

then we’re getting into planning, still in planning

sowing and planting dates

orignal frost dates

If you are wanting to get out and plant a tomato, don’t do it while the ground temp is still cool!

They are not going to thrive till the soil is warm enough! So don't try to push the season too much, you'll be much more success if you follow recommendations

If you put it out before the first frost date, then all your hard work and money has gone for naught you might get snow.

sowing and planting dates

good tools online

I just planted my tomatoes and peppers in doors

I know I can go outside and plant some peas.

Be aware of what you can direct sow and what you can transplant for each location

Once you are making your list and planning you're gonna be much better off!

This is all perfect! What comes next? Actually planting what's next? I was surprised Mike and I have ben married 27 years and I have records from all those years, the majority of those year, he put everything in the ground like lettuce, spinach, cool weather stuff taht goes in as soon as the soil can be worked was consistently between April 7-14. Some outlier years but the majority was the 7-14 or right around there.

Knowing when, talking to other gardeners is a great resource and a lot of the seed companies are great resources! They have videos etc.

Its funny you say that ~

A huge number of the seed companies are members of National Garden Bureau so we have done a lot of linking in the blog post to those resources.

they may have a blog or a video

online tool

linked to you from this blog

I think we list about 10 additional blog post at the bottom of this blog. In the past somebody wrote

  • about using seed tape and someone wrote about 
  • combining plants and vegetables and what you were talking about
  • cool season vegetables like spinach, lettuce that kind of thing

You're right seed companies they provide a wealth of information, that would be an online resource, but don’t forget about your local garden retailer.

I know we are in some strange times, some garden centers are able to stay open depend on the state.

call ahead if they are open

The thing that the garden retailers will have is transplants or starter plants.

think about what you want to direct sow

What they will have are transplants or starter plant

transplants that's next tip!!

Think about what you want to direct seed and what you want to transplant. Decide what you want to start from seed ready to start

Or you can go to your retailer and say, I want 2 of this variety of jalapeno, this bell pepper and 3 of those beefstake

transplants that you can plant

I think a lot of people are going to have transplants this year, because if you put a whole packet of seeds in you'll end up with like 50 tomatoes an that's a lot of plant you'll say where am I going to put all these?

if you do that! Let's say if you get a seed packet and you have good luck and you get 50 seeds to grow! 

share them!

there are so many online resources

who wants some of your extra tomato plants!

help out our neighbors and friends and family!

Do you want to talk abuut the history of where victory gardens come from?

so it really started in WWI there was a victory garden program

I take it a lot of people were involved

the concept then was taht obviously food was not in great supply, there were shortages a lot of the food that was being produced was going to feed soldiers that were protecting our country.

That left a lot of people at home with not a lot of food or what was not at top quality

The government encouraged homeowners to transform some of their yards into gardens

education about how to start a garden taking them from A-Z

If you didn't come from a farming background, you were not aware of how to do this

It was successful for WWI and between the two wars, Mr. Burdett did this, he was a journalist but also a seed seller.

founded national garden bureau

in tune to how you mentioned earlier

seed companies wanted to know how to inform their customers

National Garden Bureau 

Our mission is to “Inspire. Connect. Grow.” National Garden Bureau is a non-profit organization that exists to educate, inspire, and motivate people to increase the use of plants in homes, gardens, and workplaces by being the marketing arm of the gardening industry. Our members are experts in the field of horticulture and our information comes directly from these sources.

It seems like Mr. Burdett must have started this book in 1941, it was publishes in 1943 to carry over the successes from the first gardens.

if you don’t have the space go here. Governments of 

  • cities
  • towns

were encouraged to make gardening available for community gardening

WE are not the only ones talking about victory gardens now.

Were we in the middle of all the steps, we didn't finish the steps did we?

Those of us on this side of the industry, the commercial side of the industry, saw something happen during he last general recession in 2009.

saw something that happened

There was a big uptake in vegetable gardening at that time, but unfortunately people forgot to plant any type of flowers! Be it annuals, perennials, whatever! and they didn’t realize that there are certain crops that need pollinators or you are not going to get fruit or the shapely or large fruit or what you were expecting.

Our last tip is don’t forget to plant pollinator friendly flowers

#1. They will make you feel good,

  • they're pretty
  • they will add to your vegetable
  • they will do the work for you and you will have squash and cucumbers etc!

I love that! How do we connect with you?

Our website is probably one of the smallest urls.

National Garden Bureau

You will see a lot of info about

  • new varieties
  • program called "year of"
  • inspiration tab is our blog
  • kids gardening
  • victory gardening
  • one blog post up now

More on victory gardening coming posts on:

  • planning
  • planting
  • care and maintenance
  • harvesting

more blogs coming

National Garden Bureau 

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