Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Be your own gardening expert

Here is another gem of a book from my childhood of the 1950's. I remember buying this, in a garden shop in the middle of Ashford in Kent on my way home from school. It cost me the princely sum of One shilling and Sixpence old money, or 7.5 new pence!

Look at the conventional 1950's family on the cover; the man in charge, smoking his pipe, the lady doing the more genteel garden chores, and the two children, a boy and a girl, being brought up to help in the garden!

I remember rushing home with the book, with its "Free soil tester inside!" and testing my own soil. I can't recall the result, but the small piece of litmus paper is still in its little envelope stuck within the inside cover, with my neat handwritten note telling me to mix one teaspoon of tap water with one teaspoon of soil in a saucer!

Most interesting now, in addition to the quaint presentation of ideas, is the prominent use of DDT amongst the remedies for pests. It seems that spraying DDT freely on fruit and vegetables was a widely recommended practice. Fortunately I could not afford such chemicals so my gardening was by necessity fairly organic. I have often felt that the free use of such chemicals has been the cause of many cancers since.

Rachel Carson also saw the dangers of using so many chemicals without understanding their longer term effects, and following her book, Silent Spring, and the public outcries which followed, DDT was banned in the USA in 1972. It later became the subject of a world wide ban in agricultural following the Stockholm Convention. This ban is credited with bringing the Bald Eagle, the national bird of the USA, from the brink of extinction.

I used to read avidly any gardening books I could get hold of which must explain my wide general knowledge on all matters horticultural to this day!

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