How to adapt your garden in wartime

The first birthday present my mum gave my dad after they were married was a gardening book; it was called ‘Practical Gardening and Food Production in Pictures’, and she made a very sweet dedication,:

To Adam the Gardener from Eve, in expectations of great things, 19.8.48

This edition was published in 1947 but I’m not sure when the book was first published, maybe in 1940, maybe earlier, but a lot of its advice and suggestions are as practical and helpful today as they were when it was first written. It was written by Richard Sudell, born in 1892 and dying in 1968.

One rather sobering chapter, which I sincerely hope I will never have to make use of is about adapting your garden in wartime. There is no comment or extra ‘conversation’ with the reader such as I found in a knitting book published at about the same time, it is purely practical, although there is a little glimpse of dialogue when Sudell is talking about his sketches:

I have prepared two sketches, one showing the garden as it is now, the other how it can be converted to wartime needs. This should be taken merely as a guide. Every garden will have its own problems, and since no two gardens are alike it is impossible to lay down hard and fast rules. But the main idea is to work to a preconceived plan so your garden can be adapted easily, and when necessary reconverted to its former use.

I like his optimistic last sentence! There are two diagrams, a typical suburban garden in peace time, and the same garden adapted to wartime needs. It is in sections, including ‘Don’t destroy your plants’ (move and rearrange them) have some chickens (in the area between the Anderson pattern air raid shelter and the compost pit) intermediate crops (to be used in crop rotation schemes), rows north and south (for maximum sun) features to retain ( compost pit, incinerator, rockeries and ponds) dig up lawns (digging in the turf with the double digging method, and moving trees less than fifteen years old)



  1. Don Bowen

    This was great Lois. My parents had a similar book, fully illustrated but as I recall dedicated to wartime gardening. I had it for a while then lost it. It was certainly informative..

    Liked by 1 person

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