Tag Archives: Dig for Victory

Wartime Farm BBC TV

I just thought l should remind all you WW2 buffs out there that the makers of Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm are following it up with a new series based during the war years of World War 2, named appropriately as Wartime Farm

Wartime Farm.

I was asked by the publishers this week if l would like to have a review copy. Fantastic, l feel so chuffed! I was explaining to them that l felt l had lost direction with this blog as l didn’t have a veg plot to work with anymore. But, as l have said before, not everyone back in those days had a garden but still wanted to do their bit for the Dig for Victory campaign. I remember my Great Grandmother’s house l lived in as a child for a short while. It was a rambling Victorian mid-terrace with a small courtyard type garden at the back. I used to watch the steam trains go over the bridge at the bottom of the road. I even remember having a bath in a tin bath in front of the fire! The backyard was made to look as best it could with a shed, a small patch of grass and some borders at the side with a mixture of shrubs and roses. I played in those borders for hours and sometimes l still get that smell of the soil that will launch me back to those very early years along with Mrs Pratley’s cats next door! I am sure they had grown some veg back in the war years. Everyone felt they had to contribute in some way to the war effort.

So, back to 2012 and we find ourselves having had an offer accepted on a house close to where l work. Its detached but no real garden only a large courtyard at the back with a graveled area at the front but in a lovely location next to a 12th Century church. We hope to move in by late October. I already have plans for the courtyard and without upsetting my better half will make some nice containers for some veg next year along with some hanging baskets for tomatos etc. My blog will continue along those lines until my name comes up for an allotment in 2075. Ha ha.

So, look out for Wartime Farm next Thursday 6th September on BBC2 at 8.00pm for the next 8 weeks. Can’t wait!.


Posted by on September 1, 2012 in September


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Happy Chappy!

Yes, l am a happy chappy because the book l won on ebay was delivered yesterday. Not just any book mind but an original 1945 copy of Middleton’s All The Year Round Gardening Guide.

This is the book that Arum Press published a few years ago under the title of ‘Dig On For Victory’. I had seen a picture of the book but didn’t think l would ever find a copy so thank you ebay! I have been using the Dig for Victory book for my weekly updates on what to do in your garden but now l will be able to refer to the original book as well, not that there is any difference but l love to pick an old book up like this and imagine who else had read it all those years ago. It is not a well worn copy so l doubt it has been used on a daily basis fro reference but it is still 66 years old!

It has a different introduction to the Aurum Press copy and l think is much better, more personal, and as this was written in 1945 it could well have been his last work. In his introduction he talks of ‘my sincere hope that we shall soon be digging for a lasting peace’. I am unsure as to the exact date he died in 1945 but l do hope he did see peace before he went.

I love the last paragraph, ‘Step on the spade rather than the accelerator, and you will reach the end of the journey quicker’.


It is full of wonderful adverts ranging from Dettol, Cuprinol, Carters Seeds, Dobbies Seeds, Fisons, Unwins and Qualcast all of which are still going strong today. But l’m not sure about Carters Seeds. Were they the seeds that Woolworths used to stock? Or was it Bees?

On the back page is a Boots the Chemist advert advertising Compost, Insecticides etc all ‘approved and recommended by Mr C. H. Middleton Horticultural Consultant to Boots the Chemist’. This man got about what with working for the BBC on radio and television, writing books and making films he really was the first celebrity gardener.

On that note, there has been an awful lot of debate on who is the best person to front Gardeners World. Firstly, l think it is a shame there is only one gardening programme on the TV, especially when you see so many Home programmes, antiques, relocations, etc. So who is my favourite, well, l love Monty. He is down to earth, energetic, and just gets on with the matter in hand. Toby and Alys were just awful. No wonder the viewing figures plummeted. Carole Klein is nice but l wish she would stop laughing when she is talking!

Who is your favourite TV gardening celeb?


Posted by on May 14, 2011 in May, Mr Middleton


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My Garden

I thought l would add a few photos of the garden as it is not normally quite so weed free but with the long hot dry spell the weeds are slow in returning.

The potager

The potager takes up half of the garden. The other half is made up of two large round grassed areas suroounded by various shrubs, grasses, trees and flowers. The beehive is actually a compost bin l made some years ago following a Geoff Hamilton design. It fools everybody!

Looking back to the house

The garden is made up of deep-beds with paths made up of crushed sea-shells. I don’t use weed-killer on these paths but hoe them all as and when. The hot, dry April is making it very hard to get the seeds going. I soak the row first before putting in the seeds hoping this gives them a head start but l am having to water every 2 or 3 days or else l would loose most things.

First showing of the peas

The peas are a bit slow emerging but l am sure they will be romping away now. In front l made a small sowing of lettuce ‘cut and come again’.

Bean poles

I have been soaking a load of willow over the past week or so and today l weaved some btween the bean poles to give the beans something extra to climb up and make the whole structure a bit stronger. Mrs Hunt finished off the other side and l have to say she made a far better job of it than l did! Did you know its National Bean Pole Week?

Catch crop of Lettuce

I planted up a catch-crop of lettuce in-between the bean poles. These will be ready by the time the beans have got to the top of the poles. It just uses up what would otherwise be a waste of good soil.

Broad Beans

The broad beans are flowering well and look set to provide a good crop but the leaves are being eaten by something. It’s not the dreaded blackfly so not sure what it is.

Early potatoes

The early potatoes l put in not so long ago keep appearing above the soil l earth up over them. I have almost run out of soil so they will now have to take their chance if there is a frost. My greenhouse is fit to bursting with courgettes, pumpkins, squash, runner beans and tomatoes that really need to be planted out but if there is a frost, and there well could be, l stand to loose the lot!

Sweet-pea wigwam

I made up this willow wigwam today as well. I planted a couple of cucumber plants either side and the rest will be planted up with Sweet Peas. This area still needs a lot of work as it is the herb garden and needs a lot of sorting out. The ground is really hard here so might wait until after it has rained.

The weekly jottings of Mr Middleton for the 4th week in April and the weeks of May were covered last year but l will be looking at the Dig for Victory leaflets and see what they have to tell us.I have been making some purchases on ebay over the past few weeks of old WW2 Dig for Victory memorabilia. There are some serious buyers out there and one small leaflet recently fetched nearly £70.00! More details on another post.


Posted by on April 27, 2011 in April, The garden


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One Year On…

There is no more peaceful spot on earth than an English garden, and for some years you and l have been building up our little flower gardens, making them more beautiful, more intimate, and more than ever an essential part of our homes. But grim times are with us, and under stress of circumstances we are now called on to reorganise those gardens, and turn them into munition factories; for potatoes and beans are munitions of war as surely as are bullets and shells; and the gardeners of England can do much to help the nation in its hour of need.

And so says Mr Middleton in his introduction to ‘Your Garden in War-Time’ which Aurum Press have just re-printed. It was originally printed back in 1941 and Britain was in the thick of it; Britain’s cities were being bombed and food was becoming increasingly scarce with the Atlantic convoys under attack from German U-Boats. The need to ‘Dig for Victory’ was as necessary as ever before.

Not much has changed in 2011. A new Government coalition and its strict measures to cut the deficit is having a massive knock on effect with the economy in general. Will it work? Who knows. To me it seems to be too much, too soon. For many people the need to make their own cut backs is just as relevant today as it was back then. And for many, so to is their enthusiasm to continue to Grow their Own.

Trends and fads come and go but the sale of vegetable seeds continues to far outstrip the sale of flower seeds as does the increasing demand on councils for new allotments proving this trend is here to stay for some time to come.

With our decision to return to Blighty my vegetable garden will not be in full production this year. Instead, l have decided to grow crops that we will benefit from this season ie. salads, peas, beans, carrots, potatoes, herbs, squash and tomatoes. It’s enough to be going on with! Fingers crossed and with a fair wind we will sell our cottage this year and be able to start a new life in England.

And no, l have no idea what l will do at this stage as to what l will do when l return or where exactly we will return to! We have a few irons in the fire so will see what comes about. We wish we could pick this cottage up and take it back with us! Along with with my veg plot, of course!

The weather here has been exceptionally warm and dry making the ground hard. When it is like this l find it is better, when sowing seeds, to pour water into the channel you make for your seeds first, let it drain then sprinkle your seeds into it and cover as normal. It gives them a good head start and once they have come through you can water as normal if necessary.

So, with that, l am off to sow the rest of my crops. Its a great time of the year. Happy gardening!

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Posted by on April 14, 2011 in April


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Some wartime memorabilia

Over the past few weeks l have successfully bid for some wartime ‘Dig for Victory’ memorabilia.  Since l have started writing this blog l have searched the internet for additional information to help me in my postings, whether that has been in the form of posters from that period, leaflets, booklets etc. Some of them have obviously become collectable items especially the Allotment & Garden Guides and Seed catalogues. I thought l had secured a seed catalogue when l placed a bid at nearly £10.00. It actually went for nearer £40.00! Remarkable. So, in my quest to build up a little bit of WW2 history and with a limited budget, l only bid on ebay on items that really take my interest. These are some of them:

Dig for Victory

This is the leaflet informing people on How To Dig. Its all good common sense stuff but l must get myself a nice trilby and a waistcoat!

How to Dig

I hope you have all noticed how the digger has stepped back with one foot!

Cropping plan

I am really pleased l got this leaflet. When l read this l have this image of the characters from The Fast Show when they were talking very matter of fact dressed as men during the war, smoking pipes, ‘Vegetables all the year round if you crop wisely Mr Chummley-Warner!’

Cropping Plan 2

Janice surprised me the other day when she got me a Dig for Victory mug! How nice is that!

Dig for Victory mug

Weather here still remains dry. We had a drop of rain last Friday but l believe Brittany is declaring itself in a state of drought! No real rain since before Easter is making the garden very dry and very difficult to work in. There is a distinct lack of growth in nearly all the seedlings despite my watering. I have set up a new irrigation system in my plot ready for worsening conditions! How are things with you?


Posted by on May 16, 2010 in May, The garden, Uncategorized


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Vegetable luxuries

Another entry from Mr Middleton’s ‘Digging for Victory’.

In these critical times the wise gardener is thinking of the winter supplies, and concentrating his energies on getting plenty of the utility vegetables. Potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips, swedes, artichokes, and winter greens are of the first importance. But it doesn’t follow that we should deny ourselves everything in the nature of a luxury, especially as some of the so-called luxury vegetables can be produced without interfering with the general Dig for Victory plans.

Variety is good for us, and the vegetable diet can become a little monotonous without the addition of an occasional novelty, just by way of a change, and to add interest to the proceedings. Apparently a good many of my listeners have been thinking along these lines, for l have had quite a lot of letters lately about such things as mushrooms, melons and pumpkin: to say nothing of asparagus, peaches, and strawberries.

Now l am not going to advocate the growing of any of these in war-time if it means neglecting the essential subject; but where they can be conveniently fitted into the scheme of things, to add variety, and make life a little more worth living, l’m all for them, in moderation, of course.

Anderson Shelter

Mr Middleton goes on to tell us how to cultivate mushrooms under some turf or in a cold frame; and to make use of every square inch in the garden by growing marrows on top of the Anderson air-raid shelter! He was way ahead of his time when he suggests after thinning out the seedlings of turnips, carrots, onions, lettuce and parsnips, not to throw them on the compost heap but to use them in a salad. I believe people today are paying a small fortune buying salads in this form!

He finishes off by adding:

‘One thing l like about war-time gardening is that l have less mowing to do; there isn’t much left to mow, so l can get on with the hoeing instead; hoeing between the vegetable rows is a much more useful occupation, and keeps the crops on the move, so don’t let the hoe go rusty.’

I couldn’t agree more! We have just had a spell of long overdue rain so it should be perfect. Have a great weekend and remember tomorrow is the 65th anniversary of VE Day.


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Allotments for all!

This is fantastic news.


Acres of privately owned land is to be turned into allotments, to boost the number of people growing their own fruit and veg. A Government scheme announced today proposes handing over unused building sites and derelict land to keen gardeners, just like the Dig for Victory campaign of the 1940’s. I am looking forward to seeing how this develops and actually seeing allotments appear in inner cities. Great news for those 100,000 plus people on the waiting list for a piece of land.

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Posted by on March 3, 2010 in Uncategorized


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