Will Elliott: Old garden tips still ripe pickings

A 1942 publication on backyard gardening offers surprisingly useful insights about growing veggies, bushes and fruit trees today.A 1942 publication on backyard gardening offers surprisingly useful insights about growing veggies, bushes and fruit trees today. 

Not-so-nice weather at midweek prompted hunting partners to cancel both a waterfowl and a deer hunt. The deep freeze delivered with wicked winds iced over ponds and shallow bay areas where ducks would have answered to a call; this season ended on Friday. Those same gales and gruesome temperatures canceled plans for a trip to northwestern Pennsylvania hillsides with a primitive muzzleloader rifle; that deer season ended on Saturday.

Instead, a skim through a shelf of old and newer garden books uncovered a three-ring sized booklet that provided some informative surprises this past week.

“Victory Backyard Gardens: Simple Rules for Growing Your Own Vegetables,” published in 1942, is not even included in a U.S. Department of Agriculture library listing in 1945. That list cites 16 publications on Victory Gardens produced in New York State from 1942 to 1945 and hundreds more titles from more than 20 other states, all with topics worth reviewing for the 2015 planting season.

A similar 1944 title by authors T.H. Everett and Edgar J. Clissold added canning to the “simple rules” offered in the 1942 publication. What made this read so relevant is that Everett served as a horticulturalist at the New York Botanical Garden while writing this text. He includes references to weather, soil, plant and growing conditions useful to Western New York backyard garden growers.