Vintage Gardening Tips from Wheeling’s Past

If you’re dreaming of having a lush, bountiful garden this summer, then now is the time to start planning! Gardening has long been a popular topic, making it an unexpected place for aspiring gardeners to find tips for cultivating a green thumb. While some practices have fallen out of favor, others have stood the test of time. Check out these vintage gardening tips and see what practices you can implement this growing season.

Garden Planning, Planting and Support

Wheeling News Register, April 9, 1939.


According to the accompanying text, this image depicts an “accepted style of small house garden design.” One where the plantings in the backyard create an “outdoor department” which is viewed as an extension of the home. 

Wheeling News Register, May 21, 1939.

Transplants can be tender, even if they’ve been “hardened off” or acclimated to the outdoors. Planting on overcast days and giving newly transplanted seedlings plenty of water can help prevent them from being “shocked” in their new location.

Wheeling News Register, April 2, 1944.

Planting, or “setting” strawberry plants at the correct depth is important to plant health and yield. Make sure to plant with all of the roots covered, while also not covering the base of the plant with soil. 

Wheeling News Register, February 26, 1939.

Tired of planting things in rows? Use this “Formal Vegetable Garden” diagram to plan out your summer crops. Substitute flowers for any crops that don’t strike your fancy. 

Wheeling News Register, July 9, 1939.

There are many different ways to provide support to growing plants. This diagram shows some ways that tree limbs can be used to support peas or smaller annual plants. Wooden stakes can also be used to support tomatoes, provided they are tied to the structure.

Flowers for Summer

Wheeling News Register, April 9, 1939.

This annual flower bed is laid out in a unique half-moon shape and creates a colorful border for the yard.

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Wheeling News Register, April 30, 1939.

No space in the yard for a garden? Neighborhood critters too hungry? Try out a window box (or hanging basket). Window boxes look great packed with flowers, and many herbs do well in window boxes as well. Just make sure they get plenty of water!

Wheeling News Register, April 30, 1939.

Don’t underestimate low-growing flowers! Adding shorter flowers on borders and in front of taller, showier flowers provide visual interest. They also help to shade the soil and can act as a “living mulch” to taller plants. 

Wheeling News Register, June 2, 1940.

Gladiolus are a quintessential summer flower, and are incredibly easy to plant! Gladiolus are propagated by corms (sometimes called bulbs) and are touted as being “deer resistant.” For especially adventurous gardeners, the corms can be dug again in the fall and saved for the next season. 

Wheeling News Register, June 25, 1939.

Ready to plant? Luckily we have a few great locally-owned greenhouses in the area. Stop by Nicky’s Garden Center, Russell Nesbitt’s GROW Greenhouse, or Klug’s Greenhouse and pick up some transplants for your summer garden.  You can also check out the gardening bulletins created by WVU extension, stop by the library and check out a gardening book, or consult a local garden master to learn more about starting your own backyard garden. Happy planting!

• Kate Wietor is currently studying Architectural History and Historic Preservation at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. She spent one glorious year in Wheeling serving as the 2021-22 AmeriCorps member at Wheeling Heritage. Since moving back to Virginia, she’s still looking for an antique store that rivals Sibs.