Friday, February 22, 2013

NOLA Victory Gardening

In January and February 1944, New Orleanians were thinking about Victory Gardens. US Department of Agriculture Chairman of the Victory Garden committee, H.W. Hochbaum, led a two-day Victory Garden Conference at the St. Charles Hotel that was attended by participants from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. After the 1943 gardening effort resulted in lower yields than had been hoped, states were encouraged to develop their own programs to suit local needs and conditions.

Participants adopted a resolution sanctioning  the planting of green leafy and yellow vegetables and tomatoes, and the selection of high yield, insect- and disease-resistant seeds. Camilla Bradley, the editor of the New Orleans magazine Home Gardening for the South considered the conference a stimulating one, and encouraged her readers to increase the nationwide gardens from 20 million to 22 million:

"The need for civilians to grow and preserve their own food increases as each new front is opened. For every soldier overseas a 270-day food supply must be in reserve. The total reserve assumes staggering proportions when we realize that one third of our fighting forces are  already out of this country and plans are underway to double the number by the end of this year. We on the home front must not become complacent while the war news is good, but must realize that as new countries are freed our burden of feeding the liberated populations grows heavier."

Feature writer Ninette Carter developed spring planting recommendations, advocating the immediate planting of beets, carrots, spinach, mustard, lettuce, endive and cabbage. She advised readers to make planting lists and plan and space rows accordingly. She gave instructions for butter and snap bush bean rows, and the application of commercial fertilizer.

The magazine's advertisers focused on Victory gardening and the New Orleans Public Service Department provided "Victory Tips for Kitchens on War Schedule" with a menu and the following recipe:

Salmon with Biscuit Topping

2 cups seasoned white sauce (see below)
1 tall can salmon
3/4 cup grated cheese
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Biscuit Recipe

2 cups sifted flour
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp fat
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 to 1 cup milk or water

Sift dry ingredients; cut in fat until mealy. Add milk gradually to make a soft dough. Knead lightly for a minute on a floured board. Roll to 1/2-inch thickness.

For white sauce, melt 4 tablespoons butter or fortified margarine in saucepan. Blend 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and 4 tablespoons unsifted enriched flour, add melted butter, stirring constantly. Add 2 cups milk gradually, stirring until sauce thickens. Pour off liquid. Remove all skin and bones from salmon. Combine salmon, white sauce, cheese and seasonings. Pour into greased casserole. Cover with biscuit topping and bake in preheated oven at 425 F., 20 mins.

Images and quoted matter above from:  Home Gardening for the South IV:2 (February 1944). Garden Library of the New Orleans Town GardenersSoutheastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries. A full run of the journal is also available in the Louisiana Research Collection.

To read more primary source material about the Victory Garden program,note that Edmore Loomis Davenport Seymour published a special edition of his The New Garden Encyclopedia in which he outlined the history of the federal program, and gave planting, dehydrating and canning guidance. A copy is located in the Garden Library of the New Orleans Town Gardeners at Tulane University.

New Orleans parking entrepreneur Harry J. Ducote planted a Victory Garden on his Iberville-N. Peters Street lot after gasoline rationing adversely affected his business. In just eight months, he had a healthy crop of cabbages, radishes, lettuce and tomatoes that garnered the attention of LIFE Magazine. An Associated Press photograph of Ducote and his garden -- flanked by the Customs House -- was published May 3, 1943.

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