A patch of land behind a house on Mokane Road has been feeding the Whitlow family for at least 110 years.
Though the garden is far from new, the sign Bill Whitlow recently put up at its entrance is. Crafted by Sunrise Sign Company, it reads "Whitlow Farms Victory Garden, Since 1910." It took Whitlow a while to decide on the wording, he said.
"I wasn't sure what to put up there," he said. "I came up with 'victory garden' because of the times, with everyone wanting to stay home."
Home gardening is booming this year, driven by concerns about job losses and potential food supply chain disruption, according to Reuters. U.S. seed company W. Atlee Burpee & Co sold more seed than any time in its 144-year history in March. Many families, including some first-time gardeners, are planting victory gardens of their own. The name hearkens back to the gardens planted across the Americas and Europe during World War I and II.
Whitlow said he's a little too young to remember the victory gardens of WWII. And he's far from a first-time gardener.
"I've always gardened," he said. "I like to eat, so I grow way too much."
This year, he's planted beets, turnips, radishes, tomatoes, zucchini (yellow and green), broccoli, watermelon, acorn squash, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, carrots, potatoes, green beans, corn and a few herbs. There's also the family asparagus patch, which has been growing since the 1950s. And from a glance at the bushy greenery filling the garden, it's clear a bumper crop is on its way
"This year, maybe the rain helped," said Laurie Whitlow, Bill's wife.
The Whitlows also recently installed raised beds, which spare Bill from having to spend as much time hunched over pulling weeds. He tops the beds off with rich soil and compost each year.
As impressive as the Whitlow's garden is now, it used to be even more so, back in the time of Bill's great-great grandfather (also named William).
"My family has been in this house since 1910, and the garden plot has been there since then," Bill said.
The Whitlows' farm once stretched for many acres, all the way out to what is now Tennyson Road. The Reed subdivision was once Whitlow farmland, and the Whitlow branch of Stinson Creek still bears the family name.
"They had an orchard going up the hill, and a grape orchard and damsons," Bill recalled.
Even in its current reduced state, the garden still provides more than enough vegetables to feed the Whitlows. They plan to share the harvest with family and friends.
"I make two or three trips a week circulating to everybody with whatever's ripe," Bill said.