‘Allotment and Garden Guide’, written by Twigs Way brings to the 21st century Britain’s essential month-by-month wartime gardening guide , as relevant to today’s amateur gardener and vegetable grower as it was in 1945. Twigs Way has compiled a full 12 months’ editions of ‘Allotment and Garden Guide’ – the flagship title in the wartime government’s ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign – and adds commentary and insight, not only into gardening but into the war years, with the urgent threat that food might simply run out counterbalanced by the timelessness of seasonal routines.
In 1938, Britain imported 55 million tons of food. Just a year later the country was at war, shipping lanes were closed and the country’s larders had to be filled by amateur growers: householders who tore up garden lawns, public parks and town squares to grow cabbages and potatoes. Under ‘Dig for Victory’, the ‘nation of shopkeepers’ had to transform itself instantly into a nation of gardeners, entailing a massive educational programme which took these novices through the basic tasks for each month in the near-desperate hope that sowing and planting by the inexperienced would actually lead to productive harvests.
The early years of the war saw some mixed results as seed shortages and misplaced advice took their toll but by 1945 the professionals had learned what the gardeners needed, leading to the highly patriotic but equally practical 12 months of ‘Allotment and Garden Guide’ selected by Twigs Way.
Subtitled ‘A monthly guide to better wartime gardening’, the book is just as valuable today as then: an ideal introduction to productive gardening with advice on making compost heaps, when to sow and harvest differing crops, how to mix and rotate crops and how to save seeds, among much more. Twigs Way also brings the gardening war years vividly to life with an abundance of commentary, additional photos and colour illustrations, accompanied by such slogans as ‘Go easy with bread, eat potatoes instead’ and ‘Hold pests at the Maginot Line’.
Priced GBP £9.99 and available from all good bookshops – as well as www.1940.co.uk