In August 1948, six months after they were married, my mum gave my dad a gardening book for his twenty-ninth birthday. it was called Practical Gardening and Food Production in Pictures by Richard Sudell. It was invaluable to him over the years that we had a vegetable garden at home; he produced just about everything we ate! No doubt he consulted it about what he should be doing each month as the seasons changed, and he and our neighbour would swap tips and seeds and cuttings.
There is a monthly guide to what should be done, with a little information at the beginning on the weather which might be expected… so seventy years ago, this is what the book describes:
First frosts probable. With luck, and perhaps a little extra care, summer flowers may be kept unharmed, through the first night frosts, and if so, there is a probability that they will continue to produce blooms for several extra weeks. Keep your eyes open!
The gardener’s year begins this month. Plan autumn alterations in the garden. Fresh from your holidays you will be full of ideas. By planning to carry these out while your ideas are fresh you will get better results.
Mr Sudell then gives suggestions for September work:
- move tender plants under glass, and plant out those that are to stand the winter in the open
- clean up the garden as vegetables,flowers and fruit complete their season
- order autumn and winter fertilisers
- plan autumn planting and make out orders for plants, trees and shrubs
- move immediately any evergreens that have to be transplanted; it is not safe to move them when the soil has become cold
He then has separate instructions for food plots, fruit gardens and flower patches. There is a section on general maintenance, and then instructions for what to do for things being grown under glass.
It is clear, precise, concise and would be easy to follow for a new gardener… I am not sure my dad would have been a totally new gardener. Although his family lived in a pub which didn’t have a garden, no doubt his grandparents did, and friends of his father.