Thursday, 25 April 2013

Dig For Victory Leaflet No1: Grow for Winter as well as Summer

We've had a few emails and tweets about what cropping plan we are following. Well it's all here below, the Ministry of Agriculture's Dig For Victory Leaflet No1: Grow for Winter as well as Summer. Published around 1940 and distributed throughout 1941 it was in response to the hit and miss early days of domestic growing. When gardeners and those new to growing reported a glut of vegetables during 1940 but not a steady stream of vegetables throughout the year the War Ag stepped in. You will notice some vegetables are missing, such as, the cucumber. Quintessentially British, the cucumber sandwich became the province of the black market during the war. Think of that next time you have an afternoon tea. You could during the Second World War be fined for growing cucumbers under glass. The War Ag deemed them as having little nutritional value and glasshouse growers had to instead grow tomatoes, a vegetable (or fruit depending on which side of the argument you fall) with a high nutritional value that could also be processed and stored. Likewise, the cauliflower wasn't widely grown during the war as much of the seed came from North Africa and the Mediterranean where summers were longer allowing for seed production. It was therefore illegal to try and grow such crops under glass to create a longer summer for seed production when glasshouses had to be handed over to tomatoes. Funnily enough, fruit too felt the long hand of the War Ag, and though we know fruit to be high in nutrients and vitamins, they were deemed as a long term crop and the Ministry felt such crops would take over land that could be given over to fast growing crops, such as, greens and cabbages. So, no new orchards or soft fruit farms were planted during the war years but established orchards and pick your own farms did a booming trade during those years. Thus was born Dig For Victory Leaflet No1: Grow for Winter as well as Summer. If you disbelieve the power of the domestic grower, in 1942-43, allotments alone produced one millions tons of food. In 2009, The Independent started to discuss the future of food production in the UK and the volatility of relying, as we did before the Second World War, on foreign imports. As the UK's commitment to cutting greenhouse gases is revealed as a sham, we have to start asking what do want more, food or lawns? Maybe it is time to dig up that lawn, as the War Ag said, 'Lawns can be resown' and lawns won't feed you.

Time to take responsibility for food rather than imports that will cost us our planet.

Dig up that lawn and let's cut the air miles.

You can view more on our #wartimegarden plans on twitter and through the following links: