The eco warriors of the past

By John Dreczkowski April 2008

Every day the media say, we guys are ruining the planet

Too much waste we fling out with waste and only feed the gannet

Every day instruction’s come recycle this and that,

Dare not use the dreaded plastic carriers

To save the planet we all young and old will need to be willing eco warriors

By recycling hard and others efforts, we can reduce our carbon foot print

But everyone has to be eager and willing do their stint

Society today they say, is throw away and far too fast

So surely we all should take time out, and learn from the past

Oh dear! Oh dear! Whit did they do in our Grannies day

It seems a dam site better than we’re doing today

One wonders with all the plans the powers to be and pxperts seem to hatch

No one seems to be talking, thinking and championing  reintroducing the vegetable patch

With food costs and food miles rising fast, time and again

The environment and population overall would have much to gain

One hears the calls loud and clear, here’s the ranting of some old dear

But that’s not so, then let’s take some time to make it clear

It is to be remembered I’m only talking about Whins of Milton, Hill Park,

Park Crescent and Bannockburn, this could easily apply to towns and willages elsewhere in turn?

The Vegetable Patch

During the early 20th century and before most houses which were built had reasonable sized to large gardens, mostly to front an back of the house, front garden being much smaller than the normally larger back garden, this trend continued through out the period, continuing further when the local Stirling Council started to construct further housing schemes to meet the needan ever expanding population in the mid 1900’s  developments in Whins of Milton, Hill park, Park Crescent and various areas of Bannockburn bear this out.

The front garden was normally used to put a decor ative front to the house with flowers, shrubs, bushes and roses along with a nice lawn being the order of the day. (recycling the horse manure from the horse driven Co-op grocery and bakery travelling carts was the game of the day, armed with their shovel and bucket it was a race to see which kid could get to the pile first for his dad’s roses).

The back garden consisted a reasonable sized drying green, normally the rest of the garden was left for cultivation including The Vegetable Patch. The vegetable patch would include of types of veget ables potatoes (early, mids and lates), carrots, leeks, shallots, cabbage, lettuce, green beans, runner beans, turnips, Cauliflower, beetroot and onions, the patch was yearly fertilised by the dung from the local farms and homesteads this was dug into the ground to suit the needs of the crops.

Although the growing season was seasonal, timing of crop planting and longer term storage systems were devised to gain best use of the crops One of the most uncomfortable jobs associated with the garden was the yearly task

of moving between a half load 1 /2 ton to a full load 1 ton of dung from the road in. The front of the house to the vegetable patch, this normally involved the adults and the youngsters in the family.

In some gardens when room and conditions allowed many grew their fruit crops in bush form were the black currents , raspberries, goose berries and low level fruits like strawberries (these were protected with top nettings for the birds and old eggshells to keep out the slugs with a light cover of straw for warmth). Some fruits were eaten as a treat, others were used to make preserves and jams to be used during the year.

Grass cuttings, old flowers, vegtable and general garden waste which suited were all recycled to the in garden compost pile, later being dug back into the soil, grass cutting until the late 1960’s was normally by hand cutting lawn mower.

The use and working of the Vegetable Patch lent its elf to many benefits both to the environment and the physical well being of the families , all the family were involved in the cultivation of the patch in one way or another. Using the earth’s natural energy resources in the growth of the crops and using straight from the garden to the table , ensured that the freshness and goodness of the food was maintained and very tasty, no or little chemicals were used in the growth period, or needed to preserve the goodness as this was natural, high recycling levels and good waste management systems limiting any waste ,had very low environmental negative effect.

Physical efforts of maintaining ,enjoying and the f resh vegetables and fruit from the patch could only have beneficial effects on the health of all involved.

Many families were rightly very proud of their gardens rightly so.

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