May 17, 2020 12:02 PM

Free online Victory Garden 101 course popular

Posted May 17, 2020 12:02 PM
<b>A screen shot of one of the free Victory Garden 101 online classes. </b>Courtesy KSRE
A screen shot of one of the free Victory Garden 101 online classes. Courtesy KSRE

WICHITA – When Rebecca McMahon saw a newspaper article in March indicating that garden stores in Wichita were already selling out of supplies, she had an idea what was going on.

The state’s stay-at-home order as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was inspiring many homeowners to plant their own garden, she thought.

So McMahon, the horticultural food crops agent for K-State Research and Extension’s Sedgwick County office, quickly made plans to help out. In April, she launched an eight-week online gardening course, titled Victory Garden 101, to set up aspiring gardeners for success.

“The topics are geared toward first-time gardeners, or those who have dabbled in the past without a whole of success, and at the time were taking advantage of the stay-at-home order to jump back into vegetable gardening,” McMahon said. “But anyone who gardens knows that there is always something more to learn.”

The live class is being held on Tuesday evenings through the end of May, but all of the lessons are available for free, seven days a week on the Sedgwick County extension office’s website.

As of early May, people from across the United States were still signing up for the course, using the online videos to catch up to current course content. McMahon said there were 820 participants in the class as of May 5.

“Everyone can access the materials on the website, but they need to register if they want email updates and the chance to join the live class,” McMahon said.

The concept of a Victory Garden dates back to World War II when Americans were encouraged to plant a home garden to provide a certain amount of their food during a time when many of the country’s agricultural products were being used to support the military.

“I saw a statistic that indicated about 40 percent of fruits and vegetables consumed by Americans at that time were provided by Victory Gardens during World War II,” McMahon said. “That’s a huge number.”

Similarly, the basis for McMahon’s class is to encourage consumers to grow some of their own food, adding to their community’s food security, while also saving a little money on their grocery bill.

“Gardening is a great thing anytime, pandemic or not,” McMahon said. “I encourage folks to pick up vegetable gardening as a great opportunity for learning for their kids, activity for themselves and a great way to add vegetables and healthy foods to your diet.”

McMahon noted that it doesn’t take a lot of room to grow a few vegetables or other garden crop. People who live in apartments can grow vegetables or other crops in small containers on a balcony or patio, for example.

“Even in a small yard, you can grow a few things,” she said. “You don’t have to till up a rectangular section of your yard in order to have a garden.”

McMahon added that the weekly lessons provide a nifty template for getting started. Starting with week one, Victory Garden 101 is leading gardeners through preparing a site, planning the garden, growing your own salad, tips for great tomatoes, using vertical space, watering, and dealing with insect of disease problems.

It’s also not too late to get some of Kansans’ favorites into the ground.

“Right now is a great time to plant tomatoes and green beans,” McMahon said. “And over the next couple weeks, other warm season vegetables like cucumbers, squash, melons, peppers and eggplant can be planted.”

For ideas on what can be planted in Kansas – and the best time to do so – interested persons should read the Vegetable Garden Planting Guide, published through K-State Research and Extension. McMahon notes that the third page of that guide has a planting calendar that serves as an easy-to-use reference for planting fruits and vegetables.

“I really encourage people to start with some leafy greens because they grow to maturity a lot faster than other crops,” McMahon said. “Plus, they’re a short project. If you grow some lettuce and after harvesting it in 50 to 60 days you decide this gardening thing is not for you, then you haven’t invested too much time and you still got something out of it.

“Tomatoes, potatoes and squash…they’re flashy vegetables, but they are an investment of time, and you have a lot of gardening work to do to get to your harvest endpoint.”

For more information regarding gardening, interested persons are also encouraged to join the Victory Garden 101 Facebook page.

Continue Reading Salina Post
May 17, 2020 12:02 PM
Saline County: No new cases; 22 have recovered

Here's Saturday's COVID-19 update from Saline County:

The Saline County Health Department does not have any additional cases of COVID-19 to report today.

Saline County has had 28 cases. Out of the total number of cases, four citizens continue to be actively monitored and isolated and there have been two deaths. The rest have met the criteria necessary to be considered recovered and have been released from daily monitoring and isolation.

We recognize that graduation ceremonies were planned to occur today for many of our High Schools. While in-person ceremonies have been postponed, we want to extend our congratulatory wishes to all graduates.

Governor Kelly signed Executive Order 20-32, which establishes a new phase to the “Ad Astra: Plan to Reopen Kansas.” The new “1.5” Phase, effective May 18th, 2020, continues reopening efforts while still preserving some restrictions. The updated plan and frequently asked questions have been updated on our website

As we attempt to reopen Saline County, the entire community is counting on each person to follow the below recommendations to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

• It is highly encouraged to continue to wear cloth masks and maintain social distancing.

• It is highly encouraged for people to only leave their homes for essentials.

• It is highly recommended those employees in any service industry wear PPE (especially cloth masks).

• It is highly encouraged to continue telework.

• Avoid socializing in person with groups of 10 or more individuals in both indoor and outdoor settings.

• Any employees exhibiting symptoms should be required to stay at home and asked to call their health care provider.

• It will take the effort to follow the above recommendations from everyone in our community to continue our reopening.

Help our community in slowing the spread of this virus. Only follow official sources to obtain information: or Stay Safe & Stay Healthy.