“For the men, woman and children left behind during World War II, life changed dramatically. People who had never gardened before had to start growing their own fruit and vegetables, housewives had to cope with rationing, and their families had to get used to unfamiliar foods such as spam and nettle soup.”
You can read about it in THE WARTIME KITCHEN AND GARDEN (1993) by Jennfer Davies. The book, published to tie with a BBC series in 1993, includes personal memories, tales and anecdotes from many people who remember wartime cookery and “digging for victory”.
Find out what G. writes about the vegetable garden in his diary:
Sunday 13 February 1944 Not too good a day, but typically Feb: N arrived + we have all in our ways, been busy. I tore up old wire netting on bank in front of house, + staked ready for new wire. It spoils the bullock fence, but we can’t have rabbits in the Veg: garden.
Wednesday 15 March 1944 Still cold wind, but a good sunny day. Finished mixing artificial manures at last, a hellish boring, thankless task. Afternoon cleared, manured + made tomato bed in greenhouse + started in garden.
Tuesday 21 March 1944 A dullish day + damp. Went into getting garden going, finished digging & planted Peas, carrots, onions, spinach, turnips + parsnip. Worked till black out to finish.
Tuesday 6 June 1944 After usual chores planted out Brussel, Savoy + Cabbage plants + gave kitchen garden a thorough hoeing + weeding. Plants, as I look at them from the window in front of me, look very bedraggled, but a little moisture will put them right. A fair day for me.
Wednesday 7 June 1944 Dullish, coldish day, is trying to rain for days, + I wish to God it would, the air, the house, the earth + the nerves of R + myself requires it. Finished kitchen garden altogether + went on hedging.
Tuesday 20 June 1944 A hot day, with some wind to temper it. General cleaning + cutting of the banks + edges in garden + much needed attention to tomatoes took up all my day. Not too happy a day
Wednesday 18 October 1944 There were intervals today when it was not raining. Both R + I spent all day weather permitting cutting round lawn + clearing the kitchen garden of a vast accumulation of weeds.
Sunday 15 October 1944 A very nice day. Finished cutting + clearing the top hedge of the Home Field + started cutting the grass around the kitchen garden. N. did not come down today, but he phoned.