A first ABC of wartime vegetable varieties, our ‘free gift’ to you to celebrate Plant Conservation Day 2010, 18 May 2010 from the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo

Ormskirk Late cabbages, a wartime variety which has done survived winter well here since photographed on planting last summer 2009, World War Zoo gardens project.

Still growing strong and available today: Ormskirk Late cabbages, a wartime variety which has done survived winter well here since photographed on planting last summer 2009, World War Zoo gardens project.

Get involved and ‘Do One Thing’ for wildlife this year

Tuesday May 18th 2010 is Global Plant Conservation Day, reminding us that our  vegetable and flower gardens are a strange mixture of plants and varieties from the local area and from all over the world.

 Some of these varieties are hundreds of years old and still growing strong.  Sadly others have become like the endangered zoo animals and rare breed livestock of the plant world, in need of heritage seed banks to preserve their quirkiness and unusual genes for a changing future.

Plant Conservation Day (on May 18th 2010)  www.plantconservationday.org  has lots more information about ways of getting involved  http://bgci.org/plantconservationday.

Our contribution? Bookwork as well as spadework. 

 I have been busy reading wartime gardening books from the zoo archive over the quieter winter months, the period when these wartime gardening books suggest polishing your spade, reading seed catalogues or planning your garden as there’s nothing much doing in the garden.  What I’ve been searching for (with an A to Z notebook handy) are the names of 1940s varieties in use and recommended during wartime, so as to find authentic varieties for our own plot.

This sonorous A to Z of wartime vegetable varieties is growing but still incomplete as I’m now checking them against many of the 2010 seed catalogues to see what survives in cultivation. I’ve selected below a short ABC of wartime vegetables as a taster  and will put the whole list on the blog and as part of a new ‘dig for victory’ / ‘war on waste’ schools garden pack in future (combining the history curriculum with the science, geography, healthy eating, sustainability   and growing schools gardens elements of primary school).

A first  draft 2010 ABC of 1940s Wartime vegetable varieties

 Work in progress: these have been compiled by the World War Zoo gardens project from lists in eleven 1940s gardening books, leaflets and magazines. The right hand column lists the code for eleven source books e.g. MGG and how often they are mentioned, so you get a rough idea of how widely recommended they were at the time.  We’ll publish the bibliography when the list is complete.


  • Connover’s Colossal                                                                                                                  

Artichoke, Jerusalem 

  • New White                                                       PG

 Artichoke, Globe

  • Green Globe                                                                
  • Purple Globe                                                     PG

 Artichoke, Chinese

 Bean, French Bean

  • Bounteous                                                        
  • Canadian Wonder                                             IZ
  • Kentucky Wonder                                             (USA – Old Homestead)
  • Masterpiece                                                      
  • The Prince                                                         IZ

Bean, Broad Bean

Longpod varieties

  • Exhibition Longpod (early)                               G
  • Dwarf Early Magazan              MGG
  • Magazan or Longpod Early                                WTGHN
  • Prolific Longpod (early)                                     IZ
  • Seville Longpod                                                 PG

 Windsor varieties

  • Early Giant Windsor (broad type)                     PG
  • Early White Windsor                                        WTG
  • Great Windsor (maincrop) (broad type)          IZ
  • Green Windsor                                                 WTGHN
  • Improved Broad Windsor                                              
  • Windsor                                                             WTGHN

 Bean, Runner Bean

  •  Best of All                                                         IZ
  • Princeps                                                             VGD
  • Prizewinner                                                       MGG
  • Scarlet Emperor                                                 MGG
  • Streamline                                                          MGG
  • Sutton’s Exhibition                                             WTG
  • Rajah (white seeded)                                         UWC

 Brussels Sprouts  

  • Aigburth                                                             WTGHN
  • Clucas’ Favourite                                               PG
  • Darlington                                                          MGG
  • Evesham Special                                                 PG
  • Fillbasket                                                           
  • Harrisons XXX                                                  VGD
  • Matchless                                                           PG
  • The Wroxton                                                   


  • Calabrese                                                           WVG
  • Clucas’ June                                                       WTG
  • Eastertide (spring v.)                                          MGG              
  • Extra Early Roscoff (autumn v.)                         PG
  • Late Feltham                                                      PG
  • Leamington  (spring v.)                                     
  • Late Queen (spring v.)                                      
  • May Queen                                                       
  • Methuen’s Late June                                          MGG
  • Methuen’s  June                                                 MGG
  • Michaelmas White (autumn v.)                         MGG
  • Christmas Purple Sprouting                               HN
  • Early Purple Sprouting                                      
  • Late Purple Sprouting                                        VGD
  • Roscoff No.1 & No. 2  (winter v.)                    PG
  • Roscoff No. 3 & No. 4  (early spring  v.)          PG
  • Roscoff No. 5  (late spring  v.)                          PG
  • Snow’s Winter White  (autumn v.)
  • Veitch’s Self Protecting (autumn v.)G
  • Walcheren  (autumn v.)                           
  • Whitsuntide (spring v.)                                      MGG
  • Winter White                                                    MGG
  • Winter Queen                                                   MGG


Long-rooted varieties

  • Cheltenham Green Top                                   
  • Perfection                                                          PG
  • Sutton’s Blood-Red                                            MGG

Globe-rooted varieties

  • Crimson Globe                                                  VGD
  • Detroit                                                               IZ
  • Empire Globe                                                    MGG
  • Crimson Ball                                                    PG


  • January King (winter v.)                                     MGG
  • Baby Roundhead                                                VGD
  • Christmas Drumhead (winter v.)
  • Clucas’ Roundhead                                            WTG
  • Durham Early                                                     AGG1/1, WTG
  • Early Market                                                      WTG
  • Early Offenham                                              
  • Ellam’s Early                                                      MGG
  • Enfield Market                                                   IZ
  • Flower of Spring                                                MGG
  • Harbinger (spring v.)                                          WTG, PG, IZ, MGG
  • Imperial                                                              IZ
  • Non – Pareil                                                      WTG
  • Primo                                                                
  • Tender and True                                               IZ
  • Utility                                                                 MGG
  • Velocity (first Spring sowing)                            MGG
  • Winnigstadt                                                   MGG
  • Portugal Cabbage – Couve Tronchuda             MGG
  • Chinese Cabbage – Pe Tsai                               ?

NB Savoy cabbages such as Ormskirk Late (pictured) will be listed later.


  • Shorthorn for shallow soil,  small or stump-rooted variety.
  • Intermediate for medium depth
  • Long, long-rooted for deep soil, exhibition variety


  •  Altrincham                              (Long)              MGG
  • Chantenay                               (Intermediate)    MGG
  • Champion Scarlet Horn (early)                         IZ                    
  • Early Gem                               (Small)               
  • Early Horn                              ?                          WTG
  • Early Nantes                           (Small)                MGG
  • Early Shorthorn (forcing)        (Small)                PG
  • James Intermediate                 (Intermediate)MGG
  • James Scarlet Intermediate     (Intermediate)    PG
  • Long Surrey                             (Long)                 PG
  • Long Red Surrey                     (Long)                 MGG
  • New Red Intermediate (maincrop) (Intermed)      IZ
  • Scarlet Horn                           (Small)                MGG
  • Scarlet Intermediate (maincrop)  (Intermediate)    WTG
  • St. Valary / Valery                   (Long)                 MGG


  • All The Year Round                                        MGG
  • Autumn  
  • Early Chantenay                                                 VGD
  • Early Erfurt                                                         MGG
  • Early Giant                                                         PG
  • Early London                                                      VGD, MGG
  • Early Market                                                      VGD
  • Early Six Weeks                                                 WTGHN
  • Early Snowball                                                   VGD, PG, MGG
  • Eclipse (autumn v.)                                             MGG
  • Walcheren                                                         WTGHN



  • Moss Curled  (early)                                          WTGHN, PG, MGG
  • Green Curled                                                    WTGHN, VGD
  • Batavian (winter)                                               WTGHN, MGG
  • Batavian Broad-leaved

Initials in CAPITALS e.g. MGG, WTGHN are our codes for which book we found the reference, so ignore these.
And here my ‘vegetable love’ was exhausted for one typing session.         Look out for more of the list and updates in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile you can check which of  these 1940s varieties are still available by searching the seed catalogues online or request a catalogue  from  Suttons Seeds, Mr. Fothergills, D.T. Brown, Unwins, Thompson & Morgan, The Real Seed Company and many others. 

Plant Conservation Day (on May 18th 2010) www.plantconservationday.org  has lots more information about ways of getting involved  http://bgci.org/plantconservationday. We’ll be planting some wartime varieties, heirloom or heritage varieties of vegetables and flowers in the wartime garden and try to save the seeds. 

You can find out more about heirloom varieties and local varieties of plants and seeds for your area at: 


Happy digging! Contact us at the World War Zoo gardens project via comments on this blog …

Look out for Saturday 22nd May 2010,  Biodiversity Day with mnay events in BIAZA zoos, aquariums and other sites. We’ll be posting more on this during the week.


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3 Responses to “A first ABC of wartime vegetable varieties, our ‘free gift’ to you to celebrate Plant Conservation Day 2010, 18 May 2010 from the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo”

  1. How To Choose Cool Weather Vegetable Plants For Your Garden Says:

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  2. Knock knock - veal chop | Veal Facts Says:

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  3. Herby Harvest Home at Newquay Zoo for Monkeys | Worldwarzoogardener1939's Blog Says:

    […] At some point we will update our slightly chaotic 2010 list of heritage 1940s vegetables: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/a-first-abc-of-wartime-vegetable-varieties-… […]


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