Gardens of California ® LLC
Back to earth
The Home Garden January 1946
Editorial (artists signature is not distinguishable)
After four years of war gardening, at last we face a year of peace-time gardening. We can thumb through the pages of catalog's devoted to flowers and shrubs, checking item after item as freely as we will, without any feeling that perhaps we should be ordering, instead more spinach.
The problem of reconverting the garden to a peace time basis, however, is not so simple a one as merely switching from food crops to flowers. The whole basis of wartime gardening, like that of our entire war economy, was an artificial and a temporary one. The important thing for every home owner to do now is to shake off the war - garden - psychology and - both figuratively and literally - get back to earth.
A LONG RANGE PLAN
Whether one's place is a new one or an old one, large or small, the first question to settle is what do you want your place to give you? And the second question is, what do you want to give your place? Only when these have been answered will you have a basis for planning intelligently.
It can be assumed that almost any home - owner wants to have an attractive looking place, but these questions go deeper. Perhaps you will do best to answer the second one first.
If your postwar ideal is to have a passably good looking home site, with a bit of lawn and some shrubbery, that will require the least possible time for maintenance, you should keep that fact very definitely in mind in connection with anything with or on your place. Perhaps, to you, the open road, and week - end trips with the old (or the new) bus, or golf, or fishing, has a stronger appeal than getting out on your own ground in soil - worn corduroys and run-over-at-the-heel shoes. If so, hold a tight rein on your plantings.
If, on the other hand, what your place can give you is the important thing, and you enjoy the time you devote to it - then your schemes for the future will be entirely different. But you should not merely buy from season to season, as this, that, or the other plant happens to appeal to you. Work out, rather, a long-term plan, that will steadily progress to a few big things to be accomplished each season, in addition to the routine ones that will occupy much of your efforts, and which (if you have no such long-term plan) may well result in your overlooking more important undertakings all together.
If you are going to undertake a real plan for the development of your place, one of the things you will want to settle definitely is whether or not to include vegetables and fruits. From long experience and observation I can assure you that, unless you are willing and have the time to follow through on any such project, it is better not to attempt it.
On the other hand, the satisfaction - and the fun too! -- of producing many of your own vegetables and some of your own fruits, is one of the keenest pleasures you can get from having a bit of earth of your own.
Our national experience with war gardening has driven this fact to many who never before realized it. It is true that some of the products of the home garden are little or no better than can be bought. But the fact that you have labored over them, coaxed them along to maturity, protected them from the many hazards of attack by insects and disease, provides a psychological sauce that gives them a quality, when finally they reach the table, beyond comparison with any product merely brought from the market.
But the difference is by no means all a matter of sentiment. Many of the vegetables, fruits and berries, fresh, canned or frozen, that come from the soil and the toil in one's own garden are decidedly better table quality than their counterparts grown on a basis of commercial production.
This difference increases with the increasing skill of the gardener. Gradually he learns just which varieties best suit his taste, and which thrive best in his particular soil. He acquires skill in all those little tricks of the trade that enable him to grow his crops to a finished perfection; he discovers, just when to gather them to enjoy their maximum in quality.
And so at the beginning of this New Year -- which is also the beginning of a new era - take time to sit back and consider just what line you wish to follow in your reconversion to peace - time gardening. In your own mind, settle the 64 dollar questions first. The smaller ones will take care of themselves.