From the April 23, 1943 edition of the Gazette:

There’s something about this spring already which is pretty special. Ernest Flanders is trimming down his whiskers, for several years past the most famous whiskers of Martha’s Vineyard and one of the Island’s outstanding landmarks, more interesting in a way than the Gay Head Cliffs because they cruised about a good deal and the cliffs stay in one place.

About a month ago Mr. Flanders “took down on them some” and last Friday he took down some more.

“When spring comes,” he remarked, — ”claw-hammer cut.”

So that will be one way for the public to know when spring arrives.

Mr. Flanders began his whisker exploit a few years ago when he decided to see how long they would grow. They grew magnificently, and in the early days he used to measure up with a foot rule in Nevin’s garage. Being the undisputed champion, he can now afford to take as many reefs as he likes.

A community Victory Garden plot, similar to that successfully operated in Vineyard Haven, last year and this, has been projected in Edgartown by the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club. The plot has been made available through the generosity of Andrew C. Littlefield and is on Davis Lane, opposite the R. W. Watson house.

The entire plot measures 110 by 160, and will provide for fifteen individual gardens of 1,000 square feet each. This land was formerly cultivated and should give good results this year after the preparation which the garden club will undertake if applicants for gardens show sufficient interest. A plan of the land is available at the office of the selectmen and those who desire may call at that office and select their gardens.

When they make their selection, they can also pay the small sum involved which will cover manuring, ploughing and thorough disk harrowing. This will come to only $1.50 per individual garden, the charge being fifty cents for manure and a dollar for the preparation. There will be no charge for the land, and the only expense to the individual gardener beyond the service charge of $1.50 will be whatever he chooses to spend for seed and any commercial fertilizer he may wish to provide for himself.

A meeting of some of the club members was held with the club president, Mrs. Wilfrid O. White, at the home of Mrs. T. M. R. Meikleham on Tuesday afternoon, at which these arrangements were completed. Further plans for the summer program were discussed.

The community garden in Vineyard Haven is now in its second year and the plan has been found to work well.

Almost everyone, it appears, is planning to raise vegetables this year. Some Victory gardens will be large, and some small, but all will be dedicated to the same purpose. Naturally enough, there is a tendency to look around for new things to grow, as if there should be more vitamins in something which was not known in the day of our grandfathers. This is not a bad idea, in general. It is said, for instance, that edible soy beans are a good crop for the kitchen garden or the market garden. But it is not a bad idea, either, to look into the past for some old crops which have been permitted to drop from sight during the years of plenty. Take sweet potatoes. Dr. Alfred Ray Atwood of Harwich has been an able exponent of the sweet potato on Cape Cod and under his leadership this remarkably appetizing and valuable vegetable has attained a respectable place where a few years ago it was not grown at all. Sweet potatoes are easy to grow and, unlike the white potatoes, they suffer from no pests. You just plant the sprouts, mulch them if you will, and they do not even have to be hoed.

Does anyone doubt that our season is long enough for them to mature? On the Cape the sweets are ready to dig the latter part of August. But they will keep on growing and can be kept in the ground, under favorable conditions, until frost nips the plants. The sweet potato plants are also more productive than white potatoes. Winter keeping has been a problem in the past, because sweets will not keep well unless they are handled carefully and properly dried. When newly dug they should be stored in a warm place for a while for curing. This is no more difficult than the proper handling of most other vegetables. Sweet potatoes are a good bet for a Victory gardener who has plenty of land, and the amateur will like the fact that the sprouts come all ready to set out. There is no waiting for seed to appear through the ground which, by the last of May, may be weedy and dubious. Years ago many Islanders raised sweet potatoes. From an even longer past comes the Jerusalem artichoke, esteemed by the Wampanoags and susceptible of being used as a potato substitute. At least one New England seed house this spring is offering tubers of this plant which naturalized readily on the Vineyard. Looking around for something interesting and easy to grow, the Victory gardener could search further and do worse.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox