Archive for the ‘allotment gardening’ Category

Country Life 1986 article on WW1 Wartime Gardening

August 10, 2016

country life 1

Not my usual read but these two pages are  an interesting article from a thirty year old copy of Country Life  (Jan 23, 1986) that was passed to me because of my interest in WW1 and wartime gardening.

country life 2

This is an interesting article by Audrey Le Lievre , especially for me having been involved with Kew Gardens wartime stories and also researched their staff war memorial stories. Audrey Le Lievre as a garden writer is a new name to me but wrote Miss Willmott of Warley Place: Her Life and Her Gardens (Faber, 1980).

Lots of interesting links and names for garden historians to follow up here (the Worcester Fruit and Vegetable Society?) through the online scans of garden journals. The photographs have come from the Lindley Library.

I came across  information about WW1 food shortages, rationing and dig for victory style campaigns of WW1, focussed around researching former Kewite and  garden writer Herbert Cowley. Invalided soldier gardener Cowley worked as an editor and garden writer, as garden photographer and friend of Gertrude Jekyll and at one point for Country Life.

Full circle back to Country Life there…

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More on WW1 Gardening here:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/remembering-ww1-in-zoos-and-gardens/

and also an article I wrote for a local village in Cornwall about WW1 life and food: https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/life-in-wartime-devoran-in-world-war-1/

ww1 ration book

WW1 Ration books (Author’s collection)

 

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

 

 

 

 

 

Digging For Victory

August 2, 2016

dfv postcard

Fairly random WW2 photographic postcard from our World War Zoo Gardens collection entitled “Digging For Victory”, the name of the Government backed drive to encourage all from schools, scouts, workplaces, families and even zoos to grow their own food.

The back gives really not much more for information, other than the jokey family tone and the cub scout hat.  It reads “Your daft-in-law, doing his turn. Good Scout”.

dfv postcard 2

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project. Newquay Zoo

 

Download my IZEA Journal article on World War Zoo Gardens Project (2014) as a pdf.

June 28, 2016

Check out my recent article on our  World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.in the International Zoo Educators Association  IZEA  journal, this past copy is now available in pdf download form:

http://izea.net//wp-content/uploads/2015/03/World-War-Zoo-Gardens-wartime-zoos-the-challenging-future-and-the-use-of-zoo-history-in-visitor-engagement.pdf

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

A riot of vegetable colour in Newquay Zoo’s wartime garden

May 17, 2016

chard 2016

Just a few photographs to celebrate our World War Zoo wartime garden project here at Newquay Zoo, May 2016, entering its eighth summer.

A 1940s stirrup pump lies hidden amongst the colourful  Chard and Garlic, rusty but  still in fine working order.

The gardener’s  wartime steel helmet hangs on the garden gate, ready to grab in case the air raid siren sounds …

chard stirrup pump 2016

Bright Lights, a collection of colourful Chard overwintered and ready to cut as colourful edible bouquets for enriching our monkey diets. Delicious.

chard artichoke 2016

Another year of Globe Artichokes awaits, another monkey favourite, complete with earwigs.

The strange bird table affair is not mounting for an air raid siren but where we place our portable speakers for the 2.30 Lion  talk a few yards away.

Sparrows dustbathe between the Broad bean rows. The Meerkat section Robin follows the hoe or watering can. Pesky Peacocks nibble emerging shoots.

Rosemary, Curry Plant, Thyme, Mint, Lemon Balm, Nasturtiums,  Leeks and Broad Beans  are all waiting their turn, their moment and their edible or sensory enrichment use.

Dig for Victory, Dig For Plenty and  ‘Hasten slowly’ as Mr Middleton would say. Happy Gardening!

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, 17 May 2016.

 

Herby Harvest Home at Newquay Zoo for Monkeys

October 19, 2015

Squirrel Monkey exploring scented herb enrichment, Newquay Zoo, October 2015 (Image: Nicole Howarth, Newquay Zoo)

Squirrel Monkey exploring scented herb enrichment, Newquay Zoo, October 2015 (Image: Nicole Howarth, Newquay Zoo)

This weekend I was busy clearing some of the World War Zoo Garden Allotment crops at Newquay Zoo to prepare for the autumn season. I dropped off a pile of fresh herb clippings (Lemon Balm, fresh  Mint)  in our animal food preparation room  for Carnivore and Primate sections to use to scent mark and enrich some of our enclosures.

Primate Keeper Nicole Howarth grabbed a handful of these herbs and dropped some Lemon Balm and fresh Mint bundles off along our Monkey Walk enclosures. You can see one of our Squirrel Monkeys  exploring this new scent and probably bug-hunting through the bundle, harvested minutes before.

Squirrel Monkey exploring scented herb enrichment, Newquay Zoo, October 2015 (Image: Nicole Howarth, Newquay Zoo)

Squirrel Monkey exploring scented herb enrichment, Newquay Zoo, October 2015 (Image: Nicole Howarth, Newquay Zoo)

We’re harvesting the last of the Rainbow or Rhubarb Chard ahead of the first frosts. This colourful bundle was thrown to our Critically endangered group of  Sulawesi Macaque monkeys by this Sunday’s Junior Keeper (who coincidentally had the unusually planty surname of Chard) with a few small Globe  artichoke heads for good measure. A lot of the leaf holes are not snail damage, I discovered, but peacocks! Apparently the Macaque monkeys enjoyed it all with great gusto, sap, leaf and stem!

A colourful bundle of Chard in our 'Victory' Harvest 70 years on, Newquay Zoo, 2015 (Image: Mark Norris)

A colourful bundle of Chard in our ‘Victory’ Harvest 70 years on, Newquay Zoo, 2015 (Image: Mark Norris

Keepers are free to come and raid the allotment as they wish, just letting me know what they’ve taken and which animals benefitted. Keepers  have been known (as I have on odd occasions) to grab some of this fresh  mint  for the odd cup of soothing fresh herbal tea, one keeper swears by Lemon balm tea which I have yet to try.

Primate Keeper Nicole harvesting flowering chives, 2012 (Image: Mark Norris)

Primate Keeper Nicole harvesting flowering chives, 2012 (Image: Mark Norris)

Nicole Howarth gets the whole sustainability thing of the garden, albeit 1940s self-sufficiency in response to gunpoint and jackboot. She has recently finished a pioneering MSc in Zoo Sustainability, focussed on Newquay Zoo, ‘Assessing environmental impacts in zoos to inform sustainable collection planning a case study at Newquay Zoo’ by Nicole Fenton Howarth for an MSc in Zoo Conservation Biology July 2015.

This isn’t the first time that Nicole on our Primate section has used our garden produce. Some herbs and vegetables we harvest in their seed or flowers stage to make them a little more unusual ‘picky’ and tactile enrichment for our animals. Not the kind of things you can easily buy in the shops!

Globe Artichoke in flower silk stage, Newquay Zoo, 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Globe Artichoke in flower silk stage, Newquay Zoo, 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Some of the veggies in flower or colourful chard are so attractive, it’s tempting to leave them a little longer to be admired in flower by visitors. Thistly looking Globe Artichokes sometimes spring into ‘flower’, these ‘flower silks’ prove another interesting challenge to monkey fingers.

On the lawn next to the lion enclosure, bundles of herbs and some garlic seed heads for our monkeys, October 2015 (Image: Mark Norris)

On the lawn next to the lion enclosure, bundles of herbs and some garlic seed heads gathered for our monkeys, Newquay Zoo, October 2015 (Image: Mark Norris)

Garlic flower seed heads for picky Monkey fingers Image:  Mark Norris

Garlic flower seed heads for picky Monkey fingers Image: Mark Norris

Overall it has been a reasonable 2015 growing season with a few failures – broad beans,  peas – probably from dryness or tired soil. At least the garden has added a small amount of colour as well as fresh animal food to Newquay Zoo’s overall gardens this year which we are proud to have seen win a Newquay in Bloom award 2015 for the Leisure Attraction Class following our  2014 win for our ‘Restaurants and Tea Gardens’ area.

The Wesley Trembath cup at Newquay Zoo, Newquay in Bloom 2015. Image: Mark Norris.

The Wesley Trembath cup at Newquay Zoo, Newquay in Bloom 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Black Gold – Compost

The wartime allotment garden is going slowly to bed for the winter. Buckets of rich dark humus from part of our fabulous Newquay Zoo compost heaps have been scattered all over the plot to break down and add texture to our slaty clay soil through the frost season.  The really big bundles of hoofstock bedding straw and green waste go offsite to local farm composting, otherwise Newquay Zoo would be a towering huge compost heap of Dickensian proportions. It’s all a not so  glamorous part of our ISO 14001  green or environmental certification going on in front and behind the scenes at Newquay Zoo.

Surprisingly we did manage to get a perfect balanced  Ph reading (not too acid, not too alkaline) last year through on soil testing of our allotment.

Compost bucket of rich loveliness - weeds in, compost out. Image: Mark Norris.

My battered compost bucket of rich loveliness – weeds in, compost out at Newquay Zoo, 2015. Image: Mark Norris.

Our Powerhouse! Site and Gardens section's Compost heaps behind the scenes and the towering platforms of the Macaque monkey enclosure at Newquay Zoo. I just add buckets of weeds and old veg bits to the mix. Image: Mark Norris.

Our Powerhouse and peacock haunts! Site and Gardens section’s Compost heaps behind the scenes and the towering platforms of the Macaque monkey enclosure at Newquay Zoo. I just add buckets of weeds and old veg bits to the mix. Image: Mark Norris.

Modern Growmore next to the campaign signs of what replaced the National Growmore Campaign, Dig For Victory! World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, January 2015

Modern Growmore next to the campaign signs of what replaced the National Growmore Campaign, Dig For Victory!
World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, January 2015

One half of the garden  has had its ‘Dandruff shampoo advert’ dressing of wartime National Growmore Fertiliser, the other half is again seeded with autumn mix Green manure (Crimson and Broad Leaf Clover, Rye Grass and White Tilney Mustard). This year’s half and half  ‘Dandruff style challenge’ seemed to show no noticeable difference throughout the 2015 growing season. https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/national-growmore-fertiliser-a-brief-history/

Our tiny wartime garden plot emptying out with the Autumn harvest, 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Our tiny wartime garden plot emptying out with the Autumn harvest, 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Not enriching the soil too much is important in the herb patch sections of the garden, but they do tend to merge and get tangled up in each other  in a small garden plot as you can see in how the poppies (first flowering here this year) are flowering and seeding amongst the last of the Chard.

A reminder that in less than a month, it will soon be Poppy day, Armistice or Remembrance Sunday, our garden having a simple memorial function for all the zoo keepers and gardeners lost in both World Wars:  https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/ww1-related-posts/

Poppies amongst the Autumn harvest, World War Zoo garden project, Newquay Zoo, 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Poppies amongst the Autumn harvest, World War Zoo garden project, Newquay Zoo, 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Our temporary keepers' memorial plaque, Newquay Zoo, 2015

Our temporary keepers’ memorial plaque, Newquay Zoo, 2015

Sharing plant knowledge with Keepers

In my 2014 ABWAK journal RATEL article for keepers,  I used this garden  as an opportunity to promote to keepers that BIAZA Plant Working Group has compiled a Wikisite listing of animals and plants www.zooplants.net with reference to various aspects of plant nutrition, enrichment or toxicity for each animal. Any adverse reactions including death in the past have been noted by keepers on this worldwide wiki page / forum.

The BIAZA Plant Working Group has also in the past compiled a database of browse and poisonous plants. This was also mentioned in my article Enrichment, visitor engagement or history your zoo animals can eat? The ongoing role of the Wartime Zoo Keepers’ Garden at Newquay Zoo article for ABWAK journal RATEL 41(1) March 2014, pp  5-9.

Here is the plant list of veg, fruit and herbs grown successfully or not so far since 2009.

Plants list – World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo (2009-15)

  • Allium cepa    – (Spring) Onion
  • Allium sativum – Garlic
  • Allium schoenoprasum – Chives
  • Allium tuberosum – Garlic Chives
  • Allium ampeloprasum    – Leek
  • Anthriscus cerefolium – Chervil
  • Borago officinalis – Borage (blue or white)
  • Beta vulgaris – Beet varieties (rainbow, rhubarb chard)
  • Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla – Perpetual Spinach
  • Brassica oleracea – Kale & cabbage varieties,Savoy & Pak Choi
  • Calendula officinalis – Pot or English Marigold
  • Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus – Globe Artichoke
  • Eruca sativa – (Salad) Rocket
  • Fragaria × ananassa – Strawberry
  • Foeniculum vulgare – Fennel
  • Galium odoratum – Sweet Woodruff
  • Helianthus annuus – Sunflower
  • Lavandula angustifolia   – English Lavender
  • Lactuca sativa    – Lettuce
  • Melissa officinalis – Lemon balm
  • Mentha x piperita – Peppermint
  • Mentha spicata   – Spearmint
  • Nepeta cataria – Catnip / Wild Catmint
  • Petroselinum crispum    – Parsley
  • Pisum sativum   – Pea
  • Rosmarinus officinalis – Rosemary
  • Rubus fruticosus – Bramble or Blackberry
  • Rubus idaeus – Raspberry
  • Taraxacum officinale – Dandelion
  • Teucrium marum – Cat Thyme
  • Tropaeolum majus – Nasturtium
  • Vicia faba – Broad Bean
  • Zea mays – Maize or Sweetcorn

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-our-%e2%80%98free-gift%e2%80%99-to-you-to-celebrate-plant-conservation-day-2010-18-may-2010-from-the-world-war-zoo-gardens-at-newquay-zoo/

A big thanks to our Keeper and Site / Gardens Teams again this year. Happy Harvesting!

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo.

A Dig For Victory cartoon in my cuttings collection celebrating Harvest Home 1941 from Punch by Thomas Derrick, Punch, Sept 17, 1941.

A Dig For Victory cartoon in my cuttings collection celebrating Harvest Home 1941 from Punch by Thomas Derrick, Punch, Sept 17, 1941.

Wartime Harvest Home 1941

October 11, 2015

The last crops in our World War Zoo wartime keepers’ garden at Newquay Zoo are being gathered in for the year, at a time of Harvest Festivals around the country.

A Dig For Victory cartoon in my cuttings collection celebrating Harvest Home 1941 from Punch by Thomas Derrick, Punch,  Sept 17, 1941.

A Dig For Victory cartoon in my cuttings collection celebrating Harvest Home 1941 from Punch by Thomas Derrick, Punch, Sept 17, 1941.

More wartime garden in bloom pictures and a little Mr. Middleton

August 23, 2015

We have had some great positive responses from people who’d seen our photos from the World War Zoo Gardens Wartime allotment at Newquay Zoo.

Here as promised are some more photos, including more flowers for a bit of wartime colour.

More photos of our poppies in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015 

More photos of our poppies in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

middleton calender cover

Flowers in a wartime garden?

18th September 2015 is the 70th anniversary of the sudden death in 1945 of Mr. Middleton the celebrity wartime garden broadcaster and writer.

One of my favourite quotes from him is extra poignant in that sadly Mr Middleton never lived to fulfil or see this postwar return to flowering gardens:

In happier days we talked of rock gardens, herbaceous borders and verdant lawns; but with the advent of war and its grim demands, these pleasant features rapidly receded into the background to make way for the all important food crop … Presumably most of my old friends still listen when I hold forth on Leeks, Lettuces and Leatherjackets, instead of Lilac, Lilies and Lavender … These are critical times, but we shall get through them, and the harder we dig for victory, the sooner will the roses be with us again …

Quoted on the back of Duff Hart-Davis’ new book Our Land At War: A Portrait of Rural Britain 1939-45 (William Collins, 2015) – review forthcoming on this blog soon.

More nasturtiums in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015 

More edible nasturtiums in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

“Money spent on flowers, in moderation, is never wasted”

quoted in C. H. Middleton, Your Garden in Wartime, 1941 (p. 26, reprinted Aurum Press, 2010)

“For the moment potatoes, onions, carrots and so on must receive our full attention: but we may look forward to the time when this nightmare will end, as end it must – and the morning will break with all our favourite flowers to greet us once more, and, who knows perhaps my next volume of talks will be of roses, mignonette, daffodils and lilies.” C.H.M, June 1941

C. H. Middleton, Your Garden in Wartime, 1941 (p. 5, reprinted Aurum Press, 2010)

More pictures of colourful and often edible flowers in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015.

Perennial sweet peas - as the edible peas failed to germinate this year -  in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015 

Perennial sweet peas – as the edible peas failed to germinate this year –  in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

The alternate baking and soaking weather this August has really brought out the strong colours in this veg such as this Ruby / Rhubarb Chard.

Rhubarb chard  in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015 

Rhubarb chard  in the World War Zoo Garden, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

Perennial sweet peas overlooking the emptying summer beds, produce harvested.

Proof of good eating! One of the Globe artichokes picked with our Junior Keepers this week at Newquay Zoo and thrown into the rare ‘Yaki’ Sulawesi Macaque Monkeys becomes enrichment – unusual food, plaything, must-have toy …

This is food for our animals so fresh it travels food metres, not miles, and is still almost growing when eaten, foods seconds or minutes from allotment ground to animal gourmets.

Young Sulawesi Macaque Monkey and a Globe Artichoke almost as big as him from our wartime garden allotment, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

Young Sulawesi Macaque Monkey and a Globe Artichoke almost as big as him from our wartime garden allotment, Newquay Zoo, August 2015

We hope Mr Middleton would approve of our edible garden with flowers and vegetables, even though not everything has gone well this year.

The harvest of a Macaque and Capuchin monkey favourite  – broad beans in fresh pods and on the stem / haulm – has been very poor this year. They were saved seed and seemed to show no better progress on the Growmore fertiliser side of the plot than the organic green manure side. These will soon be harvested, the haulms dug in and planting for next spring begun.

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Sulawesi macaque monkeys on our zoo graphics sign for the garden, tucking into broad beans.  Top photo: Jackie Noble. 

Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo World War Zoo Gardens project August 2015

The World War Zoo Gardens Project in graphic form

August 16, 2015

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

A few close ups of the lovely World War Zoo Garden sign / graphic (c. 2011) designed by Stewart Muir and myself (Mark Norris) at Newquay Zoo in Cornwall working with graphic designer Michelle Turton (Studio 71).

As I can’t spend all day chatting over the garden fence to visitors about this project, Stewart Muir  (Director of Living Collections – plants and animals at Living Coasts, Paignton & Newquay Zoos) thought that a simple sign should tell the recreated allotment garden’s story. We wanted a sign that would all year round, in all weathers,  tell the story behind the wartime garden project to our visitors. Its prime spot on a bashed old lawn corner next to our African Lion Enclosure means it gets lots of footfall and comment.

One design idea was to use scanned ‘evacuee tags’  (obtainable from any office supplier) for caption backgrounds.

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

All the images are from items in Newquay Zoo’s wartime life collection and a few from Mark’s family archive!

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

The allotment is a real talking point – and a smelly, tactile multi-sensory exhibit that grows valuable fresh enrichment veg, fruit, flowers and herbs for keepers to use with animals.

We wanted to pick out some of the contemporary parallels between the 1940s and the present and future – recycling, food imports  …

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

Rationing and resource shortages was one major stimulus to developing the wartime garden project – how did the animals survive in wartime zoos without ration books?

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

Fabulous pictures here (below bottom three) from a 1939 Zoo and Animal Magazine showing London Zoo and Whipsnade’s wartime preparations, (top right) my  junkshop photo / postcard find of a very well dressed and proud dig for victory garden effort ‘somewhere in Britain’ and (top left) one of my family photos with my child evacuee mum (left) haymaking in Sussex for the war effort.

Shortly after the picture was taken my mum  was strafed or machine-gunned  by a ‘tip and run’ German aircraft, surviving like the other children by diving into the haystack behind them!

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

The link between our wartime sister zoo at Paignton and Chessington Zoo is briefly mentioned on the Evacuation section.

An Old Maid / Happy Families Wartime card game image of a WLA Land Girl adds period detail.

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

Critically Endangered Sulawesi Black crested macaque monkey photographed by zoo volunteer Jackie Noble, showing him ‘podding’ and eating broad beans fresh from our wartime garden produce

(below) two baby warty piglets and mum, the world’s rarest wild pigs, Visayan Warty Pigs from the Philippines (also Critically Endangered) tucking into fresh leeks from our wartime garden allotment.

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Summarising our whole project onto seven short ‘evacuee’ tag captions was difficult.

We also use other simpler temporary A4 signs to highlight different or topical aspects of the garden, such as its memorial function for zoo staff of all nations …

A small memorial at Newquay Zoo to the many zoo keepers, families and visitors worldwide who have been affected by wartime since 1914 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

The centrepiece sign amongst the flowers – A small memorial at Newquay Zoo to the many zoo keepers, families and visitors worldwide who have been affected by wartime since 1914 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

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Two simple A4 trail signs placed around the zoo and in the small wartime garden plot, part of a visitor and schools trail mounted for special occasions and ‘wartime zoo’ primary school history workshops.

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.A ‘barn find’ rusting but still serviceable wartime Stirrup or fire pump (based on prewar garden sprayer designs and snapped up as wartime surplus postwar by gardeners) amid this year’s centennial poppies.

More poppies in the World War Zoo Gardens Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

More poppies in the World War Zoo Gardens Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, U

World War Zoo Gardens  Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

Getting ready for winter and 2016 planting in the World War Zoo Gardens plot, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

Some of the images and scanned objects on our graphics sign are on temporary and changing display in our Tropical House display cabinet about the wartime garden project and wartime life in both WW1 and WW2.

Display case of wartime memorabilia, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

A small selection of WW1 items on display alongside our usual WW2 material, display case, Tropical House, Newquay Zoo.

A small selection of WW1 items on display alongside our usual WW2 material, display case, Tropical House, Newquay Zoo.

The Wartime Garden in Bloom 2015

August 6, 2015

Our first memorial poppy, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, July 2015

Our first memorial poppy, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, July 2015

August 2015 – our first memorial Poppy finally flowers after two years of seeds!

This is particularly poignant as 2015 is the anniversary of the writing of John MacCrae’s famous WW1 Poppy poem In Flanders Fields.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/05/03/poppies-poem-anniversary-written-3-may-1915/

The Wartime zookeepers’s garden allotment at Newquay Zoo is coming into ‘Bloom’, thankfully around the time that Britain / SW / Newquay in Bloom judges visited the zoo and Newquay itself recently.

It has been a year for poppies – not all of them real, such as the silk poppies from our Red White  and Blue VE day 70th anniversary  …

VE Day colours in our World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo  - blue and white edible borage flowers with a splash of red from some silk poppies.

VE Day colours in our World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo – blue and white edible borage flowers with a splash of red from some silk poppies.

Tower Poppies

Tower Poppies – the  famous, unexpectedly popular and very moving ceramic poppies at The Tower Of London in Autumn 2014.

to the famous, unexpectedly popular and very moving ceramic poppies at The Tower Of London in Autumn 2014.

Many of the blooms are on edible or scented plants, such as these Thyme herbs for animal scent enrichment at Newquay Zoo, great for enriching carnivore and big cat enclosures.

Thyme coming into flower, a good and edible bit of scent enrichment for the animals.

 

Fantastically  fiery colour and taste of nasturtium flowers and leaves

Edible white borage flowers

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More dark red ‘Empress of India’ Edible Nasturtiums  and some surprising Garlic seed heads, much loved by bees and macaque monkeys –

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Alongside queues to see our lively trio of lions, garlic flowers bloom and attract plenty of butterflies, bees and other insects.

Alongside queues to see our lively trio of lions, garlic flowers bloom and attract plenty of butterflies, bees and other insects.

It is BIAZA Big Bug Bonanza week this week (3 to 9 August 2015) in UK in zoos,  celebrating insectsand invertebrates; these edible flowers and garden plants are usually alive with insects.

A disappointing (too dry?) year for Broad Beans, whose simple flowers and smell I love. Many of these beans were saved seed from previous years.

However it’s been better for  colourful Swiss or rainbow chard, often mistaken by visitors for young Rhubarb:

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Thyme in flower and colourful Rainbow chard

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Finally another fantastic small crop of Globe Artichokes, again much loved by our Sulawesi Macaque monkeys. This is their fifth year growing. I tried these for the first time myself this year and wasn’t overwhelmed by them but the monkeys love them.

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Back to my first real Poppy – a flower of remembrance –  posted today 6th August 2015 on the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bomb at Hiroshima.

Remembering the many lives lost, changed and saved by this event.

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National Growmore Fertiliser – a brief history

March 4, 2015

The Little Man with The Spade - unofficial logo for the National Growmore Campaign 1940, replaced by the iconic hobnail boot on spade image of the Dig for Victory campaign in 1941 Image from adverts in The Vegetable Garden Displayed, RHS (image from the World War Zoo gardens archive, Newquay Zoo)

Our poor soil is getting tired, entering our 7th growing season in the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo, just as it would have been for gardeners entering the 1945 growing season.

The first year or two in 2009/10, our Lion House lawn turned wartime allotment must have had a certain amount of stored natural goodness, being cultivated for the first time, along with good helpings of zoo bedding and zoo manure well rotted down.

The last two autumn / winters of 2013/14 we’ve given it an organic boost with green manures of mustard and clover grown and dug in before flowering. Like Heligan, we have used the traditional seaside remedies of using seaweed solutions or mulched sea weed dug and rotted down.

Since 2009 we’ve been keeping  it ‘semi-organic’, as our garden produce is not just for show but practically for our zoo animals. I have to be wary of chemicals and pesticides that would have been the quick fix for soil and pest problems in WW2.

It’s International Year of the Soil in 2015 (IYS) and December the 5th is now an annual World Soil Day, focussing on the growing challenge of feeding a growing world’s population with a potentially finite resource of soil. Much the same food security challenge faced farmers and food ministers in the wartime and post-war wrecked economy after World War 2.

The Soil Association's clever fusion of Renaissance artist Arcimboldo and the WW1 Kitchener poster (Source: Soil Association / World War Zoo gardens collection, Newquay Zoo)

The Soil Association’s clever fusion of Renaissance artist Arcimboldo and the WW1 Kitchener poster (Source: Soil Association / World War Zoo gardens collection, Newquay Zoo)

 

In future blogposts I will look at the organic and hydroponic movement that arose out of wartime and post-war  food production and intensification of farming. Few realised in the desperate state of wartime a nd positive view that ‘Science’ would solve all post-war problems until the slow discovery that some ‘miracle’ or quick-fix wartime pesticides like DDT would lead to the ‘Silent Spring’ of pollution in the 1950s and 1960s, as Rachel Carson christened the disastrous impact on wildlife and human health.  But  for now, I shall look at and try out the wartime solution of a simple and still much-loved  chemical fertiliser.

Update 15 March 2015:  As compromise and inspired by 1970s dandruff adverts, I will feed one half of the allotment National Growmore chemical fertiliser, the other half of the plot I will the leave as organic green manure fuelled or maybe Organic Blood Fish and Bone as an experiment.

Modern Growmore next to the campaign signs of what replaced the National Growmore Campaign, Dig For Victory! World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, January 2015

Modern Growmore next to the campaign signs of what replaced the National Growmore Campaign, Dig For Victory!
World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, January 2015

 

This year for the first time, I’ll be using ‘Artificials’, taking my wartime gardening advice from the Ministry of Agriculture leaflets for 1945.  We have acquired many of these Ministry of Ag original leaflets for our archive but for muddy garden use and display we use a recent reprint.

These have been reprinted recently as Allotment and Garden Guide: A Monthly Guide to Better Wartime Gardening published by Sabrestorm  (www.sabrestorm.com) in 2009 edited by Garden historian Twigs Way. It describes Growmore in January 1945 as:

A SOUND GOVERNMENT FERTILISER
“To meet the needs of gardeners the Government arranged for the supply of a good standard fertiliser at a reasonable price. It is called “National Growmore Fertilser” and contains the three important plant foods – the analysis being 7 % N. (Nitrogen), 7 % Phosphate and 7 % Potash …”

“On most soils 42 lb of National Growmore Fertiliser should be sufficient for a 10 Rod Plot (300 square yards). A few days before sowing  or planting, scatter 1 lb. evenly over 10 square yards and rake in.”

“To give this general dressing to a 10-Rod allotment will take 30 lbs. this will leave 12 lbs for giving an extra dressing  for potatoes, winter green crops and spring cabbages. 4.5 lbs should be reserved for potatoes and should be applied at planting time. 5.5 lbs should be kept for applying during August to the autumn and winter green crops when they are making active growth. The remaining 2 lbs should be used during March as top dressing for Spring cabbage.”

How every well dressed gardener should appear on the allotment - National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the January 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide

How every well dressed gardener should appear on the allotment – National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the February 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide

The January 1945 leaflet goes on to suggest bulk buying if you can organise enough people to spilt the volumes ordered. This reminds me of childhood trips with my Dad to the local allotment society ‘potting shed’ on a Sunday to buy his share of the bulk bought fertiliser, seeds and such. With no car, we must have carried it or wheelbarrowed it home. The  smell of such places is quite evocative, dusty, fish, blood and bone, quite different from a modern garden centre.

“You will be able to get National Growmore Fertiliser from most sundries merchants. Allotment  Societies  and similar bodies, which have hitherto bought their fertilisers in bulk, are able to buy National Growmore Fertiliser in bulk at reduced prices.”

“On some allotments or in some gardens it may be necessary to give an additional top dreessing of a nitrogenous fertiliser (such as Sulphate of Ammonia) to any growing crops, applying it at the rate of about 1 lb per 10 square yards.” (January 1945 Min of Ag leaflet  p. 3-4)

Sundries merchants, hitherto – they just don’t write paragraphs like that anymore. As vanished as the evocative small of the local allotment society potting shed shop? Thankfully National Growmore Fertiliser is still alive and well available from most garden centres from several manufacturers such as J. Arthur Bowers and Vitax still made “to original ‘dig for victory’ formula” – http://www.vitax.co.uk/home-garden/vitax-growmore/

It also appears again on the REMINDERS monthly page for January 1945 Get Your Fertilisers Now. “Make sure of your fertilisers now, so that you have them at hand when needed”

Maybe gloves should be worn today ... How to dress to scatter National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the January 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide.

Maybe gloves should be worn today … How to dress to scatter National Growmore Fertiliser, illustration from the January 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide.

So important was Growmore to tired wartime soil and tired wartime gardeners that it was mentioned again in the February 1945 Allotment and Garden Guide Vol 1 No. 2. The end of the war was in sight after hard fighting but still the need to grow postwar crops meant that these leaflets carried on being published well past the end of the war in August 1945. Dig for Victory became Dig for Plenty, as rationing carried on for almost another ten years until 1954. Crop Rotation, compost, all these were important reminders to the winter gardener: “But before you get down to planning, have you yet got or ordered what you will need when you start outdoor operations? These are the items : SEEDS * SEED POTATOES * FERTILISERS *

Lovely Black and White line illustrations, National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the February 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide

Lovely Black and White line illustrations, National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the February 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide

A page or two later it has another reminder: “Have you got your NATIONAL GROWMORE FERTILISER? you will need it for dressing your land before sowing and planting. it contains the three essential plant foods in balanced proportions …”

It crops up again in the Jobs Reminders, in March 1945: “Feed Spring cabbage … Lettuces and Spinach  … but keep the fertiliser off the leaves” and then onwards month by month in the Reminders. By July 1945, the war in Europe and VE day was over but things were still uncertain in the Far East. Reminders continued to gardeners to plant and sow to bridge the hungry gap next Spring 1946.

Handy topical monthly hints from the Ministry of Food's 1945 wartime gardening guide.

Handy topical monthly hints from the Ministry of Food’s 1945 wartime gardening guide.

What is National Growmore Fertiliser?

National Growmore is an inorganic or chemical fertiliser, broadly similar in its 7% each of Potash, Nitrogen and Phosphoric acid balance of nutrients (NPK 7:7:7)  to more traditional organic fertilisers like Blood, Fish and Bone.

Before the war,  nitrogenous fertilisers had existed in large numbers since Victorian times thanks to Chemists like Leibig and Humphry Davy. Prewar it would have been manufactured or sold by seed companies such as Sutton’s who offered a range of fertilisers:

  • Icthelmic Guano (sea bird poo, the reason some of our sea birds like the endangered Humboldt Penguins at Newquay Zoo became rarer when their Peruvian beach nest sites were mined or dug  back to useless bare rock )
  • Poultmure, treated chicken manure,  although no longer sold by Sutton’s or by this name is  still available in garden centres.
  • Garotta, still made under this name by several companies to speed or encourage compost breakdown.

When war broke out many of our European supplies of chemicals and chemical fertilisers such as (Sulphate of ) Potash became unobtainable, fell into enemy hands or found other competing wartime uses. Since the 1860s much of the Potash came from German or Prussian mining towns like Stassfurt.  Changing times meant fewer horses meant less available farmyard manure. Meanwhile a nation of gardeners was being mobilised to replace the same food supplies that had vanished into enemy hands and that (like today) we had become dependant on from foreign imports. A simple, easy to apply and multipurpose fertiliser at low cost and  widespread availability was required. National Growmore Fertiliser was the answer!

The Little Man with The Spade - unofficial logo for the National Growmore Campaign 1940, replaced by the iconic hobnail boot on spade image of the Dig for Victory campaign in 1941 Image from adverts in The Vegetable Garden Displayed, RHS (image from the World War Zoo gardens archive, Newquay Zoo)

The Little Man with The Spade – unofficial logo for the National Growmore Campaign 1940.

Why Growmore?

Growmore appears to have  got its simple name from an early version of the Dig For Victory campaign name and its popular Grow More food  leaflets. Eventually the campaign name changed to the more familiar Dig For Victory, its little gardener man logo replaced by the famous foot on spade  and postwar Dig for Plenty campaigns. Growmore remains the same name and composition to this day.

“Specifically Prepared to Produce Maximum Crops Of Vegetables”

Researching the introduction of Growmore, the National Archives files for the Ministry of Agriculture  MAF 51/24 suggest a start date of 1942 “National Growmore Fertiliser, a general purpose compound fertiliser”.

Looking at selections of historic newspaper archives through family history websites such as Find My Past as  a very rough sample reveals 7 mentions of National Growmore for that year, mostly in the later part of 1942,  whereas there are 166 for 1943 and so on.

The Ministry of Agriculture had made great use of the well-known garden writer Roy Hay (20 August 1910 – 21 October 1989) from 1940 onwards as part of its Dig for Victory campaign. In late 1942 he was used  to introduce National Growmore Fertiliser in his syndicated garden columns “Garden Hints”. Announcements appeared in many different papers ranging from  the Gloucester Journal on November 11 1942, Sussex Agricultural Express on 13 November 1942 to the Essex Newsman of the same week. Much of the copy Roy Hay provided and packaged in his garden columns was reproduced or recycled in the 1945 Allotment Guide:

A Standard Fertiliser

“At last gardeners and allotment holders can buy a standard fertiliser … to sold at prices not exceeding … 1 Cwt 25 shilings .. and authorised manufacturers will be permitted to put it on the market under this name. Many fertiliser manufacturers have already done so.”

There are a range of adverts from local newspapers that back this claim up of regulated prices “not exceeding”, such as this one from the Western Morning News 22 May 1943:

Fison’s National Growmore fertiliser for all vegetable Crops. Orders dealt with in strict rotation.Directions in Every Bag. 7 lbs 2/9 (2 shillings, 9d) 14 lbs 4/6, 28 lbs 7/6, 56 lbs 13/6 and 1 Cwt 25 shillings Carriage paid home.  It’s FISON”S for FERTILISERS. From seedsmen or direct from Fison’s Ltd Gardens Dept, Harvest House, Ipswich. Pioneers of Granular fertilisers.

 

The Government's November 1939 leaflet on obtaining an allotment to Dig For Victory. By 1945 wartime soil and wartime gardeners would be showing the strain of tiredness. (Image source: World War Zoo Gardens Collection / Newquay Zoo)

The Government’s November 1939 leaflet on obtaining an allotment to Dig For Victory. By 1945 wartime soil and wartime gardeners would be showing the strain of tiredness. (Image source: World War Zoo Gardens Collection / Newquay Zoo)

The Government's November 1939 leaflet on obtaining an allotment to Dig For Victory. By 1945 wartime soil and wartime gardeners would be showing the strain of tiredness. (Image source: World War Zoo Gardens Collection / Newquay Zoo)

The Government’s November 1939 leaflet on obtaining an allotment to Dig For Victory. By 1945 wartime soil and wartime gardeners would be showing the strain of tiredness. (Image source: World War Zoo Gardens Collection / Newquay Zoo)

A similar advert in the Yorkshire Post of 30 march 1943 boasts the royal credentials or patronage of another authorised maunfacturer:

By appointment to HM King George VI

NATIONAL GROWMORE FERTILISER

The “Humber” Brand is manufactured by the makers of the famous “Eclipse” Compound Fish Manure. both of these aids to better gardening are packed in bags of 7 lbs, 28 lbs, 56 lbs, and 112 lbs, and supplies are available from your seedsman. Note – Special  terms are offered to Allotment Societies buying in bulk. Licensed manufacturers, the Humber Fishing and Fish manure Co. Ltd, Winchester Chambers, Stoneferry, Hull.

Whereas in the Lincolnshire Echo, 14 January 1944 Barkers and Lee Smith Ltd of Lincoln urge people to “Book your order now for spring delivery. Up to 3 cwt delivered tp premises at 25 shillings per cwt. No permit required.” Similarly a sense of urgency is found in this Cornishman advert of 1st July 1943:

BUMPER CROPS can still be obtained from your GARDEN if you use NATIONAL GROWMORE FERTILISER NOW. You can purchase up to 3 Cwts free of permit from stocks at T.F. Hosking and Co., Marazion and Helston.

National Growmore made it into the regular Ministry of Agriculture adverts on

Wartime Gardening No. 22: SOWING TIME IS HERE

“If you’ve broken down rough ground till it is fine and level, and raked in National Growmore Fertiliser. take a last look at your cropping scheme. If you,ve allowed less than one-third of your space for growing winter greens, send at once for Dig For Victory Leaflet No 1 which shows you how to correct this serious mistake. You must make sure of enough winter gardens for next season. write to the Ministry of Agriculture, Hotel Lindum, St Annes On Sea, Lancashire.”

This address and the Hotel Berri Court Lytham St Annes seem to be the regular correspondence address for obtaining leaflets from the Ministry of agriculture which had dispersed or evacuated like many wartime ministries and organisations such as the BBC to a  safer ‘rural’ address or requisitioned seaside hotels.

Roy Hay even suggests National Growmore Fertiliser for Christmas 1942 in his column headed  “Tool Gifts for Gardeners” in the Essex Newsman 19 December 1942:

“A good present would be a bag of the new National Growmore Fertiliser – it has the advantage that you can buy quantities varying from a 7 lb bag at 2s, 9d to 1 Cwt at 25 shillings.”

 

Interestingly, the work of promoting National Growmore switched to Tom Hay, Roy’s retired gardener father in early 1943:

“They are fortunate who have a compost heap and for those less fortunate, the new National Growmore fertiliser…”  writes Tom Hay in the 18/2/43 edition of the North Devon Journal and Herald

Tom  Hay Plans  Your Victory Garden

“Roy Hay the national broadcasting gardening expert, whose articles in the Journal-Herald from time to time have been much appreciated by readers, has gone overseas on important work. Contrary to the Biblical story the mantle of Elisha has fallen in Elijah; in other words Mr Hay’s father Mr Tom Hay CVO, VMH, ex-superintendent of Royal Parks contributes this article:

“At no season is the great advantage of a carefully planned cropping system more evident than at present…”

and so Tom Hay goes on to talk about Crop Rotation, a major feature of the Dig for Victory campaign.

Exploring Roy Hay’s biography on Wikipedia reveals why he handed over many of his press columns and radio broadcasts on the BBC “Radio Allotment” to his father. He had been recruited as a Horticultural Officer to the besieged George Cross winning island of Malta to oversee its food production. He resumed his broadcasting career postwar with Fred Streeter on “Home Grown”, a Sunday forerunner of BBC Radio Gardener’s Question Time.

Roy Hay went on to found the Britain in Bloom movement in 1963, inspired by one in De Gaulle’s France. So another influence on the Newquay Zoo wartime garden which has featured as part of the zoo and Newquay’s efforts  in these ‘Bloom’ competitions.

As well as posters and radio allotments, newsreel films were well used to encourage reluctant diggers – you can see this in a lovely short 6 minute Dig For Victory MOI film with Roy Hay the radio allotment gardener http://www.thebigworld.co.uk/howtodigforvictory.htm.

Other garden writers like George H. Copley (N.D. Hort) in “Your Wartime Food Garden”  in the Lancashire Daily 26 May 1943 mention National Growmore Fertiliser in relation to fruit trees, advice later recycled again in the 1945 Allotment Guide.

For more on Fertilisers today check the RHS website https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=451

Enjoy the coming gardening season,  as March begins a busy period of sowing in the garden.

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

Postscript

There is an excellent section on wartime allotments in the new City Library of Birmingham, where I recently researched for information on the Birmingham Botanic Garden archives.
http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/allotmentsinwarandpeace


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