Most British people have heard of Dig for Victory and recognise the iconic logo of a boot pushing a spade into the soil. The campaign may not have been as dramatic as the military campaigns such as Dunkirk or the Battle of Britain but it was just as vital to the eventual victory.
Despite victory being in sight by 1945, the government knew that food supplies were perilous and shipping still desperately needed for the raw materials of war. These famous guides showed people fighting on ‘the Home Front’ exactly what to do each month to put wholesome food on the family’s table from their gardens and allotments.
The government knew a well-fed, healthy population was critical and home-grown vitamin-rich vegetables was important to achieve that aim. They succeeded so well that the population was healthier at the end of the war than before it.
This educational campaign has shaped how we grow vegetables at home for the last 80 years. The reason is simple; the government guides from those dark days of war are as valid and helpful today as they were then.
Of course there have been changes, most obviously in the chemical pest controls used in those days, but the basic methods, techniques and timings remain the same. Vegetables are still vegetables and many of the standard varieties of the war are still available and popular today.
Author John Harrison’s commentary is written as a gardener rather than a historian. He clearly explains what’s changed and why in modern gardening practice, which is less than you might expect in 80 years. He also provides context for readers as to the background of each guide based in part on research but most importantly the experiences and accounts of those who were there.
Pre-order now. The book will be despatched when published 15th August.