In this new series of monthly “Guides” we are out to help you to get better results from your vegetable plot and your fruit garden. Every month we shall try to do three things : first, we shall remind you of the things that ought to have been done, but may not have been possible because of the weather or for some other reason ; secondly, we shall deal with gardening operations for the month; thirdly, we shall look ahead a month or two and remind you of what you need to do in readiness.
For more detailed week by week information you would do well to take in one of the weekly gardening journals, as soon as the supply situation permits. And your daily or weekly newspaper probably runs a gardening feature that would be helpful to you.
As the war progressed and rationing started to bite most every newspaper had a gardening column. One of the most famous gardeners of the period was Mr C H Middleton.
Mr Middleton was the gardening editor of the Daily Express newspaper and gave weekly talks advising on how to grow foodcrops on the wireless for the BBC. He even took part in a short film and also edited a series of small booklets giving topical advice on vegetable growing and cooking.
Some of his wartime talks were transcribed and released as a book. Mr Middleton was a prolific author and some of his wartime talks were transcribed and released as a book in 1942 which was even republished as Digging for Victory in 2008.
There was a huge appetite for gardening advice, with an emphasis on fruit and vegetables. Despite the wartime strictures on publishing, many new books were published to satisfy the demand. John Hampshire FRHS released The War-Time Week-End Gardener in 1942 and followed this up with Specialisation in the Garden in 1943.
The War-Time Week-End Gardener gave instructions on what to do at the week-end on the plot on a weekly basis. One hopes the weather cooperated!
Specialisation in the Garden was written for:
…the amateur gardener who never turned over a plot prior to 1939, but who, since the commencement of the war, has taken an interest in a garden or allotment, and now has at least a couple of seasons’ experience in food growing.
Get ready for OUTDOOR WORK
January is generally a fairly quiet time in the garden. But you need to push on with your digging and manuring whenever the weather and the state of the land permit. You should also prune and begin to spray your fruit trees, if you have not already done these jobs. But January is a time when you should be thinking and planning, ordering your seed potatoes, vegetable seeds, fertilizers and so on, and making sure that your tools are in good order and that you are ready to begin gardening in real earnest next month, or as soon as local conditions will let you.
Before coming to the various jobs of the month, there is one really important matter that we should say something about – the condition of your soil and the great need to keep it in good heart, for we must not expect to go on producing satisfactory crops year after year unless we restore to the soil what the plants take from it. We must also keep the soil in “good tilth.”