The concept of the "Victory Garden" was born during the hard times of World War II.

Americans created the concept of the victory garden during wartime in the 1940s. Gardening was seen as a way to be more self-sufficient, as well as a part of one's patriotic duty for the war effort. If you want to try your hand at growing your own food, all you need are some containers or a bit of yard to plant your own fruits and veggies and these eight plants, which will keep you in fresh produce all season long.

1. Zucchini

Anyone who has tried it will tell you just how easy it is to grow zucchini. Before you get any squash, the male blossoms are perfect to pick for frying. You'll know the female blooms when you see them; they have a miniature zucchini under each bud.

The trick is to give them plenty of room to ramble, even if you're growing them in containers. The leaves will get enormous and provide shade for any plants under them.


2. Cherry Tomatoes

Each plant will yield dozens of tasty fruit. Get a jump on the growing season by buying a flowering plant if you can find one. Grape tomatoes and pear tomatoes are also very prolific and provide a pop of color in any salad.


3. Kale

This hearty salad green is unique in that the leaves can be picked from the central stem and it keeps on growing. Keep picking the leaves to encourage new growth at the top. Don't be surprised if you get a volunteer kale that reappears the next year!


4. Yams

Sprout your own yams or sweet potatoes for an incredibly versatile plant. It will take months to grow sizable tubers, but in the meantime, you can pick and cook the tender tips of the vine. Use them like you would spinach, in a stir fry, julienned in a soup, or even raw in a salad. You'll be amazed at how big the mass of vines will get.

yam, sweet potato

5. Basil

Sweet Genovese basil will form giant bushes if you let it. Make sure you trim it regularly to keep new leaves developing throughout the spring and summer. Once you make your own pesto, you'll never buy it from the store again. Dry your excess basil in the sun, crumble it, and store it for using later.


6. Figs

If you have a yard, or a sunny spot to keep a potted fruit tree, you can't go wrong with a cold-resistant fig tree. Until you get fruit, you can use the leaves to make tea. Chopping fresh leaves gives you a bright, grassy flavor and dried fig leaves have a nuttier overtone. The figs themselves are a wonderful autumn treat.


7. Hot Peppers

Thai chilis, cayenne, and other long, thin hot peppers will all produce well once hot weather hits. Thick-walled jalapenos and bell peppers don't make as many fruit, so pick your varieties carefully. Freeze peppers that you aren't going to use right away, or dry them to use as pepper flakes later. You can also save seeds from your sun-dried peppers for next year.


8. Beets

While your beets are busy growing underground, you can thin the tender beet greens and eat them in a salad. Any extra beets you get can be dehydrated to make chips, or pickled.


*The photos in this article are courtesy of Pexels.

Any veggies that didn't make this list are still worth growing; they just won't give you the volume of food that these eight plants will. What will you be planting in your garden this year?