The Wartime Garden: Dig For Victory

In 2013 we are rolling back the clock to 1943. When Dig For Victory was at its height and when the country was producing much of its own produce, from small scale back garden growers, to public spaces handed over to allotments to the farmer who was asked to do much more for the nation. This was a long way from how we grew before the war and in this Wartime Garden trial we hope to capture some of the joys, miseries and knowledge around growing your own to survive.

Mr. W. H. McKie of Acton

We are going to follow the crop plan that was provided to the nation at the start of the war. We will even follow the advice of Mr Middleton (though we won't be using the pesticides of the era) on how to tackle our plot. We may not be able to grow the same varieties (as many are not available today having been consigned to the pages of history by better cultivars) but we will use the plan to see how much we can get out of a patch of our garden. We won't be doing the full 90x30 foot as we simply don't have that room (strangely enough, and very decadently we are also building a cutting garden. We can imagine the War Ag and The Ministry of Information wouldn't have been happy about that). We will be doing it on probably half the scale but adhering to the planting plan but cutting down the rows. However this is not about reliving the past. This is a homage, a celebration of ordinary, everyday people doing their bit. We will see whether we can grow modern and heritage crops on the same plan using the same methods detailed by Mr Middleton. This is a chance for you as Pig Row readers to get involved, have your say and suggest varieties for us to try. We'll even mention you here if we select your variety of parsnip or brussel sprout (for the record I hate them but I will grow them for this). The crops that come into the kitchen will be prepared using a mix of war time recipes and modern recipes. We are not under ration anymore and it seems a shame not to try and put a modern twist on some of this produce. Here is the cropping plan used by the nation during World War II.

Wartime crop plan

Feel free to suggest heritage or modern varieties as substitutes. The plan never mentions varieties though we know some of the popular varieties of the day. The list has been broken down below for ease of reading. Just leave a comment, email us or even stop by on our Facebook Page to make your suggestions. 



Dwarf Peas (but we may opt for the fast growing NE Plus Ultra here)
Intercrop with Spinach
Followed by Leeks
Dwarf Beans
Followed by Spring Cabbage
Broad Beans
Intercrop with Summer Lettuce
Followed with Winter Lettuce

Carrot (maincrop)
Potatoes (early)
Followed by Turnips
Potatoes (other)
Spinach Beet and Seakale Beet

Cabbage (Winter)
Brussel Sprouts
Intercrop with carrots (early)
Sprouting Broccoli
Globe Beet
Precede with Early Dwarf Peas

We hope you enjoy this trial and in some way get involved on your own plot. It would be great to share stories, photos and posts about growing the Wartime Garden.

You can view more on our #wartimegarden plans on twitter and through the following links:
Our plans to dig for victory
Salvaging With A Smile (Film)
Two Cooks and a Cabbage (Film)
Dig For Victory (Film)
Before the Dark Days: English Harvest 1938 (Film)
You can type wartime garden in our search box to find more results.