I was reading my friend Andrew Simpson’s excellent blog, and my eye was drawn to this post:
The way we ate in April 1947
Andrew writes: “And so here we are again with the Ministry of Food’s ABC of Cooking issued in the immediate post war period when food was still rationed.” Now, I don’t have a copy of this interesting book, but I do have a lot of old cookery books and pamphlets including some from the war and just after the war. I looked the recipes from the page Andrew was writing about, Cottage Soup, Artichokes in Cheese Batter and Sausages and Beans. I was interested to see artichokes, and Andrew and I had a little banter about whether the recipe meant globe or Jerusalem artichokes; I guessed from the recipe it was the latter which were used. They seem exotic and unusual now, but home gardeners, allotment gardeners, and market gardeners grew a wide variety of root vegetables during the war to supplement the rations which British people had to live on.
I looked at my Dad’s old and favourite gardening book, which mum gave him in 1948 but which had been written before the war, Practical Gardening and Food Production by Richard Sudell. Immediately before asparagus, and a bit further down aubergine, is Artichoke, Jerusalem – Varieties of.
- General. Easily grown. Useful for soups. Stems cast heavy shade, therfore choose a position accordingly
- Plant. February-April. 1ft apart in rows 2ft. 6in. apart
- Cultivation. Dry soil is best. Manure well. Dig in vegetable matter. Apply 2 oz. sulphate of potash and 3 oz. super-phosphate of lime per square yard before planting.
- Variety. New white
- Quantity. Seven lb. for 50 ft. of row
- Season of use. Lift after the tops die down as required. Be sure to lift every one, as any portion left behind will grow next season.
On the same page there is information, but precious little about another artichoke:
- Artichoke, Chinese – An oriental plant grown for its tubers. Plant March-April in sunny spot. Use during winter.
Lastly, there is the information you might need to grow the other sort:
- General. A large decorative perennial plant, needing plenty of space. Once established, it needs little care.
- Plant. Raise from seed in March, or plant young plants in April. Plant 18 in. apart and 3 ft. between the row.
- Cultivation. Deeply dug rich soil is needed to obtain good crops. Hoe during the summer months. Fork the ground round the plants each autumn and give a dressing of decayed farmyard manure. In cold district the crowns should be covered lightly with dry leaves.
- Varieties. Purple Globe, Green Globe.
- Quantity. A small packet of seed will priduce more than enough plants for the average garden. Buy the number of grown plants required for the space.
- Season of use. The young flower buds are cut for eating during the summer.
I’ll share some wartime recipes tomorrow from Nell Heaton’s 1944 book, ‘Cookery To-day and To-morrow’