THE Royal Horticultural Society is seeking photos of wartime vegetable gardens as it prepares to mark 80 years since the outbreak of the Second World War and the Dig For Victory campaign launch.

This autumn, at its library and gardens, such as RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Harrogate, the charity will display advisory material and wartime propaganda that inspired people to grow more food to supplement ration-book diets, including sent-in photographs of families’ gardens and allotments.

The RHS began working with the Ministry of Agriculture on the Dig For Victory campaign when war broke out in 1939, having already begun making detailed plans in preparation for war in 1938.

York Press:

Front cover of a Ministry of Agriculture leaflet with advice on how to cultivate vegetables all year round, from RHS Lindley Collections

Advice was distributed via pamphlets, leaflets and exhibition packs that toured towns and villages across the country and included guides to cultivating vegetables all year round, the storing of produce and making a compost heap.

In response to wartime shortages, gardeners had to show ingenuity, creating vegetable plots in unlikely places. Employees at the Wolsey Motors in Birmingham, for example, made cloches out of scrap car windscreens for their workplace allotment.

By 1943, it was estimated that around 55 per cent of households were growing fruit and vegetables and their efforts made an important contribution to the nation’s health.

York Press:

Chart inside a Ministry of Agriculture leaflet, from RHS Lindley Collections

Fiona Davison, the RHS’s head of libraries and collections, says: “RHS information and advice helped get a nation growing at a time when food supplies were at an historic low.

“Many people are likely to recall parents and relatives turning previously unloved plots into efficient and prolific green spaces. We’re asking the public to share those pictures and memories with us so we can celebrate the contribution of gardening to our wartime history.”

Photos and additional information for the Dig For Victory exhibitions should be sent to Dig For Victory will be on display at RHS Garden Harlow Carr from October 14 to November 17. For more information, visit