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Category — History

1912 – Biggle Garden Book


Vegetables, small fruits and flowers for pleasure and profit

By Jacob Biggle.
Wilmer Atkinson and Co.


Now just a few hints about the final problem of the average gardener – the selling end of the business: … Agronomist Medford has evolved a shipping package which it called a “home hamper.” It measures twenty-four inches long, fourteen inches wide, ten inches deep, and weighs about thirty pounds when filled. It contains about six baskets holding about one-half peck each; these are filled with vegetables in season, from radishes to cauliflower. Assortment is made to furnish soup, salad and substantials, with occasional fancies, such as eggplant and cantaloupes.

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September 29, 2014   Comments Off

1889 – My Handkerchief Garden. Size 25 x 60 feet


Results: a garden, fresh vegetables, exercise, health, and $20.49

Author: Barnard, Charles, 1838-1920
Publisher: New York, Garden Publishing co.


At last it was found; a six-room house with a mere handkerchief of a garden, measuring about one-thirtieth of an acre, or about as big a city back yard. The soil was a wet, heavy clay, full of stones, and shaded by a number of tall trees growing on the next lot. In March, 1887, we moved to the place, and on the twenty first we paid twenty-five cents for one ounce of Tennis Ball Lettuce seed. So it was the scrap of a garden began, and thereon does hang the more or less learned remarks that make this book.

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September 24, 2014   Comments Off

1876 – Vick’s flower and vegetable garden

1876 Vick's Flower and Vegetable Garden Book


The Vegetable Department is, to many of our readers, exceedingly interesting, and should be to all; for while we have no sympathy with those who say they “see more beauty in a Cabbage or hill of Potatoes than in the finest flower that ever grew,” we do most heartily agree with those who take pride and pleasure in culture of choice vegetables, and their improvement, and who are ready to say, with Diocletian, “Were you to come to my garden, and see the vegetables I raise with my own hands, you would no longer talk to me of empire.”

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September 22, 2014   Comments Off

Help Feed Yourself. Make back yards and vacant lots productive. ca. 1917 – ca. 1919

helpfeedClick on image for larger file.

Work a garden – Raise children… Somebody has to raise or pack everything you eat. Do Your Share! Make every jar help feed your family

By U.S. Food Administration. Educational Division. Advertising Section. 1917 -1919


Grow Vegetables and Fruit
If Your Soil is Fertile and Sunny

Don’t let your land loaf. Keep it working all seasons.
Don’t assume that the season is too far advanced to begin garden operations. Some vegetables may be planted at practically any time until past the middle of summer.

Start new crops between the rows of others that are soon to be removed.

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September 21, 2014   Comments Off

Victory Garden Info-graphic marks 100 years since the start of the First World War

See the whole info-graphic here.

During the war, onions were in short supply. The Ministry advised that leeks were a good substitute

By Notcutts


During the First World War Germany’s blockade caused food shortages which increased the demand for allotments. One source of land suitable for allotments but not large enough for general agriculture was the land owned by railway companies. These parcels of land were often allotted to the railway workers and this is the reason you will often see allotments by railway lines today.

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September 2, 2014   Comments Off

First-ever motorised lawn-mower restored to its former glory


The mower, made by Ransomes, dates back to 1902 and cost gardener Andrew Hall £7,000 to restore over four years

By Tom Brooks-Pollock
The Telegraph
07 Aug 2014


At the time it was considered a feat of modern engineering, a 20th Century alternative to horse-driven and steam-powered mowers.

It was initially purchased by Cadbury’s and used in the Bourneville village in Warwickshire to maintain a sports field.

Car-makers Peugeot Talbot bought it second-hand in 1923 to mow their sports field in Coventry.

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August 8, 2014   Comments Off

1949 commuter train film shows Vancouver corridor land which today is in ‘community gardens versus railway dispute’

1949 film of the Interurban rail service from downtown Vancouver to Marpole and the Fraser River

Vancouver Arbutus Corridor Community Gardens could lose 60-70% of garden land space

City of Richmond Archives
Published on July 21, 2014

This clip shows the B.C.E.R. Lulu Island Line interurban on its run from downtown Vancouver through the Arbutus corridor to Marpole and the Fraser River Trestle. Filmed by tram enthusiast Ted Clark around 1949, the original 16 mm film underwent conservation treatment in 2012 and then was digitized. The complete film on DVD, along with a detailed shot list, can be purchased at the City of Richmond Archives for $20.00.

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July 21, 2014   Comments Off

Groucho Marx’s Victory Garden


Groucho’s morale-boosting message to the U.S. troops stationed in Suriname in 1943

From Letters of Note
Dec 16, 2011


I don’t want you to worry much about the 4-Fs back home — true, we have been deprived of a few things but nothing of any importance. We don’t get much meat any more — the butcher shops have nothing in them but customers. Fortunately, I don’t rely on the stores for my vegetables. Last spring I was smart enough to plant a Victory garden. So far, I have raised a family of moles, enough snails to keep a pre-French restaurant running for a century and a curious looking plant that I have been eating all summer under the impression that it was a vegetable.

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July 21, 2014   Comments Off

1943 Mae West Movie – Victor Moore sings ‘Victory Garden’ song

From the movie ‘The Heat’s On’ 1943

“The way my peas grow littler
You’d think I’d worked for Hitler”

Song sung by Victor Moore (1876- 1962) who
wore a ‘Gardening for Victory’ apron.

“I’ve always tried to be a good American
And when this country went to war
The corner grocer told me
I ought to be a farmer in my own back yard

“And as I struggled from the store
With all the seeds he’d sold me
He said, don’t worry pard
It really isn’t hard

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July 12, 2014   Comments Off

Cape Town’s Company’s Garden, begun in 1652, turns urban farm

The vegetable garden in the Company’s Garden.

It takes its name from the Dutch East India Company who first started the garden in 1652 for the victualing of their ships that plied the spice trade route between Europe and the East Indies, via The Cape of Good Hope.

IOL Property
June 24, 2014


‘This garden will showcase the historical origins of the Company’s Garden as a food-producing garden which supplied produce to the ships and sailors who travelled the spice trade route from the East Indies.

‘It will be an important means of educating people about urban agriculture, as well as the medicinal properties of herbs and vegetables.’

For garden manager Rory Phelan, promoting urban agriculture is the most important function of the project.

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July 2, 2014   Comments Off

Hampton Court Palace’s Kitchen Garden


The gardens produced horticultural baubles, edible novelties and actual food between 1702 and 1840

By Sandra Lawrence
June 12, 2014


King Hal’s jousting fields were ripped up and turned into six one-acre, up-to-the-minute kitchen gardens. They were given plenty of walls to provide warmth and shelter for tender new delicacies such as apricots and peaches, and plenty of room for Her Majesty’s every other veg-related whim.

Expensive luxuries like potatoes, tomatoes and runner beans. Tender peas, fresh from the pod, not the dried up pebbles that peasants ate. Asparagus, squashes, fancy salad. A lot of fancy salad.

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June 22, 2014   Comments Off

Guerrilla gardening started in New Zealand – ‘Vacant lot of cabbages’

Hugh Walton watering the cabbage patch. Keen, Justin (photographer), c1978, Wellington. N.Z. Click on image for larger file.

In 1978 in downtown Wellington New Zealand artist Barry Thomas with friends Chris Lipscombe, Hugh Walton and others planted 180 cabbage on a private CBD site – as a work of art. This started a 6 month long occupation of the site which was named in the local press as ‘soap box art corner’. (From Wiki.)

From: ‘Vacant lot of cabbages’ documentation enters Te Papa’s archives
By Sarah Farrar
Tepapa Gov’t Blog NZ
Nov 2, 2012


In 1978 contemporary New Zealand artist Barry Thomas undertook a public art project in inner city Wellington. Utilising a vacant lot on the corner of Willis and Manners Streets, the artist and his friends cut through a wire perimeter fence, delivered a truckload of top soil to the site and planted 180 cabbages.

The project Vacant lot of cabbages (also known as ‘The cabbage patch’) immediately caught the public attention and received extensive media coverage. Barry was interviewed in local newspaper The Evening Post where he challenged Wellingtonians to occupy the vacant lot and claim the site as their own. The lot was quickly filled with all sorts of objects—which the city council promptly cleared away—except for the cabbages. For several months the vacant-lot-turned-urban-garden became the site of informal gatherings, events and a one-week arts festival called ‘The Last Roxy Show’.

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June 12, 2014   Comments Off

1658 – First Children’s book – ‘Orbis Sensualium Pictus’

Potherbs grow in gardens, as 1. Lettice, 2. Colewort, 3. Onions, 4. Garlick, 5. Gourd, 6. The Parsnip, 7. The Turnip, 8. The Rhadish, 10. Perselie, 11. Cucumbers, 12. Pompions

The World of Things Obvious to the Senses Drawn in Pictures

By Joh. Amos Commenii
Lothbury, London

Excerpt from Open Culture review by Colin Marshall:

The Orbis holds not just the status of the first children’s book, but the first megahit in children’s publishing, receiving translations in a great many languages and becoming the most popular elementary textbook in Europe. It opens with a sentence that, in McNamara’s words, “would seem peculiar in today’s children’s books: ‘Come, boy, learn to be wise.’ We see above a teacher and student in dialogue, the former holding up his finger and sporting a cane and large hat, the latter listening in an emotional state somewhere between awe and anxiety. The student asks, ‘What doth this mean, to be wise?’ His teacher answers, ‘To understand rightly, to do rightly, and to speak out rightly all that are necessary.’

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May 27, 2014   Comments Off

Egyptian Model of a Garden from Middle Kingdom ca. 1981-1975 B.C.

See larger image here.

Pond surrounded by sycamore fig trees with red fruit growing from the trunks and branches

From the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art
Period: Middle Kingdom
Dynasty: Dynasty 12
Reign: reign of Amenemhat I, early
Date: ca. 1981–1975 B.C.
Geography: From Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, Southern Asasif, Tomb of
Medium: Wood, paint Copper

Excerpt from the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art:

This model of a garden and portico was discovered in a hidden chamber at the side of the passage leading into the rock cut tomb of the royal chief steward Meketre, who began his career under King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II of Dynasty 11 and continued to serve successive kings into the early years of Dynasty 12.

In the center of the garden is a pond surrounded by sycamore fig trees with red fruit growing from the trunks and branches. The pond is lined with copper and could have been filled with water. Facing the garden is the porch of a house. Two rows of columns support the roof made of palm trunks split into halves. The rear columns have capitals in the form of papyrus stalks bound together, the capitals of the front columns imitate bundles of lotus. Rainfall is rare in Upper Egypt, but such an eventuality is provided for in three projecting spouts.

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May 24, 2014   Comments Off

A Green and Pleasant Land: How England’s Gardeners Fought the Second World War


‘War is the normal occupation of man – war and gardening’ Winston Churchill

By Ursula Buchan
Windmill Books, part of Cornerstone Publishing

The wonderfully evocative story of how Britain’s World War Two gardeners – with great ingenuity, invincible good humour and extraordinary fortitude – dug for victory on home turf.

A Green and Pleasant Land tells the intriguing and inspiring story of how Britain’s wartime government encouraged and cajoled its citizens to grow their own fruit and vegetables. As the Second World War began in earnest and a whole nation listened to wireless broadcasts, dug holes for Anderson shelters, counted their coupons and made do and mended, so too were they instructed to ‘Dig for Victory’.

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May 19, 2014   Comments Off