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Vintage Hints and Tips – Growing Vegetables In A Small Garden

Here’s an apt article for this time of year if you like growing your own vegetables. This article from November 1939 shows how to make the most of a small garden and what to grow.

AND now the garden truly comes into its own, for food – fresh food, especially – is of the utmost importance. Don’t look around your garden and say, “My few feet of space can’t possibly make any difference.” Multiply those few feet by a million others and look at the result. During war-time fresh vegetables are by no means readily available; constant transport-delays result in greens anything but fresh. And how are the children going to thrive on green stuffs that have lost most of their vitamins?

Firstly, I want to emphasise the need for concentrated growing: that is, for getting the most out of those small plots. By good digging, successive sow­ings and the use of the right fertilisers we can bring this about and often achieve some surprising harvests. Then, too, there must be many out-of-the-way corners and neglected borders that can be put to considerable use. Sage, Mint and Parsley are but a few of the herbs that can be grown quite inconspicuously even in front borders, leaving room elsewhere for other greens. Odd corners and the garden refuse heap will readily accommodate Rhubarb and Marrow (and what is tastier than well-made Marrow jam?).

The First Essential
Many plots will, in this way, be brought into service that have previously been ignored or grass covered, and these will require particular attention. Such ground needs to be thoroughly prepared and broken up two spades deep in the following manner: Take out a trench of soil the depth of the spade, and remove this to the far end of the plot. Scatter a liberal quantity of manure in the bottom of the trench, mixing this and breaking up the sub-soil thoroughly with the fork. Starting on the second trench, the top soil is thrown upside-down into the first, the sub-soil then being manured and forked deeply. This operation is carried on successively, until the final trench is filled in by the soil removed from the first. At this season don’t break the soil down finely; leave it in the rough state so that the air and frost may cir­culate freely, sweetening the ground and ridding it of many pests.

A sowing of dwarf peas will give satisfactory results

A winter dressing of basic slag is an excellent food for the soil, particularly where the ground is lacking in lime, and may be applied during the digging opera­tions. It should be evenly sprinkled over the surface at the rate of three ounces to the square yard and then forked in; in the case of newly ­broken ground it should also be applied at the same rate to the sub-soil when “trenching.” This is a slow acting food that will prepare the ground for Spring use. Make sure that it is applied in powder form and is not lumpy.

Early Greens
Although we cannot hope to fill our plots immediately at this time of the year we can, nevertheless, make a good start. Mustard and Cress can be sown in boxes in the greenhouse, a warm airy shed or even indoors. Sow the Cress three days before the Mustard, and, until the seeds have germinated, cover with paper to force growth. When ready for use cut clumps with scissors in order to avoid any grittiness.

May be moved to fresh sites

The best Broad Beans are those which mature early in the season, and Longpod varieties should be sown now in a sunny, sheltered border. In this way, too, pods will be ready for gathering a month before the Spring-sown plants, and although some casualties may occur during the winter a thicker sowing should account for these losses. Sow about three inches apart and two inches deep.

A sowing of dwarf early Peas on a warm site will also give satisfactory results, and The Clucas, Latham Wonder and The Pilot are eminently suitable varieties. The seeds should be sown fairly thickly, and protection in the way of twiggy sticks and straw is advised. To get the best results add three ounces of superphosphate and one ounce sulphate of potash to the yard run before sowing.

It is Time to …
Plant all kinds of shrubs, wall­trained and bush fruits, evergreens, leaf-losing berries, ornamental and fruit trees, when conditions are favourable and the soil free of frost. These may also be moved to fresh sites, to make way for vegetables.