War Time Gardening

I recently wrote an article for Home Farmer for their September war time themed edition which is available now. Researching it was fascinating, not just the famous ‘dig for victory’ leaflets but going through some old magazines from 1943.

Fertilizer Advert 1943For a start there were the underlying attitudes and themes. Grow your own wasn’t some hobby, it was vital to the individual to supplement rations and feed his family as well as being a patriotic duty to the country. The more that was produced at home, the less space taken on supply ships that could be used for armaments.

It’s curious that in 1943 the allies were beginning heavy bombing of Germany, the tide had turned in the Atlantic War with allied shipping losses falling and German submarine losses increasing dramatically and troops were carrying the ground war into Italy having defeated the Axis in North Africa. At the same the tide was well turned in Russia with the Soviet victory at Stalingrad and looking back it’s obvious that the defeat of Germany was near certain.

Yet reading those magazines the outcome of the war was far from certain. There was still a fear of invasion and exhortations to give yet more to the effort. The attitude to shortages and scarcity was simply ‘stop whining and make do’ Stealing from allotments wasn’t something the police were too busy to deal with, it was tantamount to treason. Recycling was a given with suppliers requesting you send them a bag to put their fertiliser in!

As I skimmed the magazines I noticed growing tips and ideas I’d not heard of and following my newsletter last month a reader suggested I read The War-Time Weekend Gardener by John Hampshire (1943, The Garden Book Club) which I have along with another of his books from 1943, Specialisation in the Garden. I’m also reading Soft Fruit Growing by Raymond Bush from 1945.

I’m planning on making a note of the tips and methods I’ve not come across before and seeing how they work in practice, so watch out for some new articles. Now, “Put that light out!”

Garden Machinery Repaired

Got the strimmer and lawnmower back from the shop. I think I’ve spent more on repairs than actually buying the thing and it must be costing £5 an hour to run plus the fuel. Still, maybe we’ll be OK from now on. If it dies again it’s the world of ebay spares and repairs for it – or a ceremonial bonfire.

The lawnmower wasn’t as bad as it could be after I attempted to give a rock a haircut. The blade has been re-sharpened and balanced, some bent bolts replaced and proper nuts with washers replace my temporary fixings.

Of course, having got them back the weather has changed here and according to the BBC we’re not having a rain free mowing day in the next ten at least. Mind you, the forecast is so often wrong here that I’m hopeful.

Starting them Young

I’m of the firm opinion that many of societies ills stem from our soft approach to our children. If they’re going to make their way in the big wide world they need to have the skills and be prepared to work hard which involves teaching them this from an early age. Accordingly, I’ve got my grandson started as you can see below.

OK, his steering isn’t too good and he can’t seem to cope when it’s full of rocks, but give him time!

Child pushing wheelbarrow

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
One comment on “War Time Gardening
  1. Duncan Robinson says:

    You can get reprints in fascimile of the ‘Mr Middleton’ gardening guides on Amazon. There are 3 books in the series that have been reproduced by ‘Twigs Way’ publishers. ‘Dig on For Victory’ from 1945 includes the original advertisments for fertilisers, seeds, etc. There are many good tips in the books, (as long as you avoid using arsenic and something called ‘corrosive sublimate’) many of these are now banned.

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