Tuesday, August 19, 2008


As I glanced through a quilting magazine, I saw an introduction to the book, Victory Garden Quilts, by Eleanor Burns. This term brought back memories.

Even the fabrics were reminiscent of those we used in making clothing and other items in that era. These were fabrics like those used when I learned to sew, my grandmother pieced quilts by hand, and Auntie sewed aprons and hand towels.

Also, the term "victory garden" took me back to childhood during World War II, when these gardens were popular and patriotic. (See my post Victory Gardens Popular Once Again.)

(c)2008 Mary Emma Allen



In the days of my childhood, during World War II, Victory Gardens were the height of popularity and patriotism. Now Americans’ thinking has come full circle, and I see and hear the term “victory garden” frequently.

Victory gardens, where Americans raised their own fruit and vegetables, often the first time for many, were popular during those war years. Some also planted flowers for cheer in an uncertain world of black-outs and food shortages and rationing.

Our Victory Garden

Although I grew up on a farm where we had a garden anyway, my mom planted one with flowers she called our Victory garden. She painted a large tub red and blue with large white V’s on either side. This, filled with geraniums, she positioned in the center of the plot.

You found Victory Gardens in city and country. They were planted in any space one could utilize, if you didn’t have a traditional garden plot. You might see vegetables in window boxes, front yard, back yard, or side yard.

Victory Gardens Today

Today, with gas and food, not rationed, but definitely at higher prices, more people have been thinking about raising and preserving their own food this summer. The term of 65 years ago came to someone’s mind, so they’re referred to as Victory Gardens again, as people, who have never done so or rarely, begin planting gardens.

Some of these may be no more than herbs, tomato plants and pepper plants in window boxes or tubs. Others may spade up a small plot in their yard. Others might be community garden, whereby residents pay a small fee for a plot to plant in larger acreage.
Do you have Victory Garden memories? .

World War II Foods

The recipes of the war years often had to be altered to reflect the scarsity of butter, eggs, milk and other items. That’s when margarine or oleo came into use (the type we had to mix with yellow coloring so it didn’t look like lard).

ONE EGG CAKE – Although we had plenty of eggs on our farm (we raised chickens and sold eggs as well as the milk from dairy cows), many people didn’t. So recipes using fewer eggs or no eggs were devised. Also, less sugar and shortening often were called for.

Cream 2/3 cup sugar and ¼ cup shortening; add 1 egg and mix well. Sift dry ingredients (1 ½ cups flour,1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking powder). Add these to shortening mixture alternately with ½ cup milk and ½ teaspoon vanilla added. Beat well.

Bake in 8-inch square or round pan at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes until tests done. Frost with desired icing.

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma Allen writes memories, cooking columns, and stories from her NH home. She also teaches memory writing workshops. Visit www.onebooktwobook.com or www.quiltingandpatchwork.com )