Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Victory Garden Advice Holds True Today

Joe Knowles Skaggs with Terry Joe Skaggs working in the garden. Nannie Joyce Knowles Skaggs Collection: 2003.028.044.
During the second world war, victory gardens became a necessary way of life, and today, more people have begun gardening this year due to food supply anxiety related to the pandemic. For those of you who have recently taken up gardening and are wondering about what to plant for fall crops, please enjoy the following article of advice from Lettie Van Landingham, found in the Bossier Banner Thursday, Aug. 9, 1945.

“Last call for gardeners for 1945! Make wise use of your planning time during the next two months and you will have lots of fresh vegetables all fall and well into the winter.
 Purple top White Globe.

“Clear the weeds, grass and old plants from that part of your plot not in use as a fall garden and sow a winter cover crop. This crop, turned under during the early spring, will add nitrogen to the soil and help to keep the soil in good condition.

“What to plant during September and October:

“Mustard: Florida Broadleaf or Tendergreen. Sow on row. Make frequent plantings.

“Broccoli: Italian Green Sprouting. It’s too late to sow the seed, but if you can buy plants and set them out during early September, a dozen or so plants will provide all the broccoli a family can use.

“Cabbage: Charleston Wakefield. Sow in seed bed. The small plants should be ready to transplant six weeks later.

“Radishes: Scarlet Globe and White Icicle.

“Carrots: Louisiana Danvers.

“English Peas: Creole. Plant September 1st (South Louisiana Only).

“Beets: Crosby’s Egyptian and Detroit Dark Red.

“Onions: Creole and Bermuda. Sow seed for later transplanting.

“Swiss Chard: Lucullus.

“Irish Potatoes: Triumph and Katahdin (certified). South Louisiana only. Between September 1st-10th. Plant whole small potatoes.”

With each type of vegetable, Van Landingham mentions the varieties that work best in Louisiana. Over the years, new and better varieties are created, to know what varieties work best today, contact a local 
nursery or the LSU Agricultural Center.

In another article, Van Landingham advises what chores to do during the fall and winter for a better garden. She admonishes that “First, a garden must have a good fence, tight enough to keep out chickens, live stock, and rabbits. So, if the fence is in poor condition, get busy. The fence doesn’t have to be expensive woven wire. Good fences can be made of hand-spilt pickets placed close together.”

Next, she instructs the readers that they “should get the soil in good condition. That part of the garden not planted in winter vegetables, or in cover crop, should be cleared of all old plants, grass and weeds and then plowed. Barnyard manure, if available in quantity, can be cast over the ground to be worked into the soil later. Loads of leaf mold from the woods, scattered over the garden help to add necessary humus and keep the garden soil in good condition.”

Finally, she recommends to “get out the seed catalogues, pencil and paper. Plan a garden for next year which will provide an adequate supply of fresh vegetables and a surplus for canning, so that you and your family may do your part toward America’s first line of defense by being well fed, healthy and happy. For your garden to be adequate you must plan to have available at all times (either fresh, stored or canned) something from each of these five groups:

“Group I: green leafy and yellow vegetables, such as mustard, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, collards, kale, Swiss chard, carrots, yellow squash, yellow sweet corn.

“Group II: Other vegetables, such as turnips, eggplant, beets, English peas, green butter beans.

“Group III: tomatoes (enough to serve them five times a week) either fresh, canned or in tomato juice.

“Group IV: Dried beans or peas, and Group V: Irish and sweet potatoes.”

Lettie Van Landingham was the first Bossier Parish home demonstration agent, serving the community for decades. Her sage advice was always available in The Bossier Banner. To learn more about her work, visit the Bossier Parish Library History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City.

By: Amy Robertson

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