January weather is treacherous… in the 1940’s garden

I’ve been looking at the two-page January section of my dad’s 1940’s gardening book by Richard Sudell. After a few concise but well written sentences of an introduction, he lists the tasks which should be undertaken at this time of year. Now climate change is with us, maybe it would be better to look at next month’s gardening chores!

As with all the months in this calendar to-do list, there’s all-purpose work, and then each area of the garden is addressed, the food plot, the fruit garden, the flower patch, before he gives instruction for general maintenance, the sort of thing which can be undertaken ‘if mild spells occur’.

  • make and repair paths
  • keep evergreens free from snow as far as possible
  • use creosote or white lead paint on all garden woodwork except oak, teak and red cedar: these woods need no preservative
  • if cement is used in repair work, keep it well covered in frosty weather until it is quite dry, otherwise it will crack badly

He goes on through non-living edges, tools, fertilisers and insecticides, stakes and plant labels, old pots and crocks to be used for drainage, and tubs, dower-boxes and plant vases.

I’m sure along with the white lead paint, many of the preparations and insecticides are now banned… gardening used to be a dangerous place – and gave many plots to crime writers! The last section is all about under glass, getting ready for the year ahead,.. The garden then was an all round activity despite the weather – it must have been a colder and tougher job then!



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