On my dad’s twenty-ninth birthday, and in the first year of their marriage,, my mum gave him a gardening book, ‘Practical Gardening and Food Production’ by Richard Sudell. It has everything you might wish to know about every aspect of gardening, and even has advice on how to keep chickens and rabbits – for the table of course! Mr Sudell imagines that the gardener is a complete amateur and takes him (the book is definitely aimed at men) through every aspect of creating and maintaining a garden, lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, paths and paving, fruit and vegetables, compost heaps and greenhouses… and putting a garden over for use during wartime, with the emphasis on food production.

One chapter is a month by month account of what should be done at that time of year, along with plenty of black and white photographs and illustrations.

January:
Weather – snow and ice, with outside jobs at a standstill; all hands busy in the potting shed, preparing seed boxes and composts, oiling and sharpening tools. or if a mild spell occurs, work on paths, fences, pergolas and screens. beware of the temptation to move plants: roots dislike disturbance when frosts are about, and January weather is treacherous.

There follows sections of different things to be done:

  • January work
  • food plots
  • fruit gardens
  • flower patch
  • general maintenance
  • under glass

There’s a rather nice little suggestion in the January work section: ‘Apart from the usual seeds, make a note to try out one or two unusual varieties – Golden Wonder potato for flavour, alpine strawberries, or the Paramount sugar pea. A practical novelty or two will give additional interest to your garden.’

It’s interesting that the potato seen as unusual then in the late 1930’s when the book was written, is now common and popular as a frying or roasting potato, and even has a crisp company names after it! As for the Paramount sugar pea, I’m not sure it even exists anymore!

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