Saturday, December 29, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

For the solstice...

a flood.  Not in the garden, but to it.  It had gone down by late on the 21st.

and tonight,  snow.

a white christmas!

peace be with you

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Curse you, Jere Gettle!

So yesterday the Baker Creek rare seeds catalog arrives in the mail. 

Drat!  I don't have time for that now, there's still so much holiday things, and this is my woodworking time...  I can't be set off dreaming about my garden yet, that's what february is for!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

snow today.

made some progress on the woodworking Kufenschrank.  Changed the design slightly to better get the needed parts from the available material, cut most of the pieces.  Assembled two side panels tonight.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


What with the frost and all, there's not much to say about the garden.  So i'm turning to other things, like furniture for pennsic.  I'll be making a kufenschrank, which is a footed cabinet.  Many thanks to Marijin from for excellent documentation of surviving cabons in several museums in Germany, and which provided the inspiration for the design you see here.

Here are some of the initial sketches
I wasn't quite sure how the feet were going to work, seeing as I need the whole thing to fold up flat for storage and transportation.  There will be a cleat on the inside of the front and back to suppor the floor, and this can run the full width of the cabinet, because the sides of the cabinet will not come all the way down.  The feet will have notches to fit the bottom corners of the front and back panels, and the side panels will sit directly on the feet, or in German, Kufen.

Next we have the scale drawing:
on 1/4" graph paper (my favorite stuff for this kind of thing) with one square equalling two inches.  A front view, and also a horizontal cross-section.  The side panels and back panel are of little interest as they will be mostly hidden, and not a very period design anyway.  The squared-off 8 in the previous sketch is sufficient to remind me of how they will be assembled.  From the scaled drawing we are able to make the parts list:

This details each part, how big it is, and how many of each are needed.  Sometimes it helps to have a cutting diagram, to determine how to get the best use of your stock so you don't waste a lot of wood.  I don't have one of those for this project yet...

Thursday, November 8, 2012


well the blog is at 500 hits, thank you all for reading.

We got snow last night.  There wasn't much here by the morning, but further south there was quite a bit, driving to work was a winter wonderland.  A beautiful commute.  Likely be sick of it by february, but it's been a while and it was awesome.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Well we have had our first frost, so much of what remained is no more...

collecting leaves and clippings for the compost.  big piles.  devoting a large chunk of the garden to this activity

dug the potatoes today

there's a lily in flower, but i didn't get a pic

third generation of chard thriving in the greenhouse. (even with the big hole in the roof.  They don't make the tedlar in that formulation anymore)

saving seeds from skirret, radish, dill...

Friday, October 5, 2012


A gift from Joanne Shaver, member of the famed Maplewood Gardening Club, the elderberry bush was left sitting in the lawn for a few days, with a piece of old fence wrapped around it.  This is fortunate, for the deer sampled what was left beyond the cage. 

Wednesday I got to planting it in the garden proper, where the original gate had been.

Monday, October 1, 2012

New World

Well things are winding down as the days get shorter.  Harvested the maize this weekend, Nancy helped shuck the ears, and we bundled up the stalks for october decor.

I did stick some peas in the ground around the beans a while ago, but nothing yet.  They'll have to be quick about it if they are to amount to anything.  Other than that i've nothing planted for fall.

The fence needs a few more boards, and of course a proper gate which i've mentioned.  Several times.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sunshine and D. Landreth Seed Co.

Today was the first day in a few weeks taht the sun did not blind me on my morning commute.  Winter is on it's way.

Also today, the D. Landreth Seed Co. Heirloom Bulb Collection: Garlic and Flowers arrived.  Wow.  This company is the oldest seed house in America, purveyors of fine seed since 1784.  Wow.  That's awesome!  Their catalog is beautiful, and they give dates for varieties where known, which is quite useful to those of us into historic gardening.

Here is the Wikipedia page about our favorite topic!

Monday, September 17, 2012


So here's the repairs to the fence. 
The center post is the one that got ripped out by the floodwaters.  But the post is set, the wire strung and all closed up tight.  Some of the boards you see on the ground have been mounted, but i'v put off a couple while i plan the gate.  it was going to be here, to the right of center, but with the way the flooding has been that's not always a good spot to be entering, so i'm thinking it will go down the left a bit, between the second and third post. 

The gate is certainly something that needs work, and i've been thinking about it stylistically.

This 15th cen french illumination from the Roman de la Rose does demonstrate many key features of medieval gardens, the fount, the walls, two types of fencing and a stone wall, turftopped benches, raised beds, etc, but i'm not too fond of the shape of the gate, though the idea of a tall gate in a shorter fence will be the look i'm going for.

This however is a delight. 

 I like how it echos the architecture of the period.  Stylistically this seems more 'medieval' to me than the previous picture.  What do you think?

oh, and bonus points if you know what the title of this blog is from (without consulting the oracle Google)

Monday, September 10, 2012


The deer have breached my defense.
Last weekend, or the one before that rather, i reset the post which was upset by Irene (the hurricane, not my dear neighbor)  As I was not about to put tight wire to an unhardened post, i just kind of bunched up a lot of old fencing, and my deer neighbors were able to get in fairly easily.  So i tighened that up a bit, which seemed to work.

except, now they knew where the cookie jar was....

they found another say in (admitedly another weak point in the fence design, or more accurately the gate design.  Or rather where the gate should be...)

but now it's all buttoned up again.  the beans will recover, the lone charentais melon is completely eaten, the corn is still ok, i'm not sure if the pumpkin will recover.  the skirrets seem untouched....

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Last medieval harvest?

So here pictured are some shallots which I had picked last week (or maybe two by now)  This is probably the last 'medieval' harvest, as most of my 'period' plants have perished at this point.    I braided them together to let them dry out completely, so they will store for a while and be ready to eat when I am ready to eat them.

There will still be plenty green beans, corn, pumpkin and potato, but as these are all new-world crops i'm not as likely to talk about them here. But we will be eating them.

Friday, August 24, 2012


When you go away for a week in August your garden will explode on you.  Just about got most of the weeds back in line, harvested the last cuke yesterday (the vine's dead)  Hopefully i'll get some mulch down today, and thinking about planting some lettuces for the fall...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lord Erec teaching about medieval gardening at Pennsic
 Here is a temporary garden set up at the East Kingdom Royal encampment at the Pennsic war.  Thanks to my lady of course for her continued support.  Thanks also to Vienna de la Mer, who planted this seed in my head, and to Jadwega who's plants really helped fill it out.
Here is a detail of the backside of the garden, shewing one of the turf-topped bench, the wheelbarrow and the medieval spade.  The plants were also displayed at the A&S on monday.  The class was very well attended, and I think the garden looked very good too.  If you were there, i'd love some feedback and ideas for improvement.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


So many things which i planned did not come to be:

calendula - difficulty in transplanting for pennsic cost most of these.
chard  - cut off at soil level, one plant hanging on, one regrowing from the root
chervil  - can't even tell where this was.
cucumber - looking a bit piqued, but still getting fruit from it.
foxglove  - had lovely flowers for a bit but it is no longer with us.
hens&chicks - doing well, lots of chicks
hollyhock - put out some nice flowers, but gave up the ghost
lavender grosso - this one is doing ok.
lettuce green ice - gone to seed
lettuce green towers - gone to seed
lettuce mesclun mix - gone to seed
meadowsweet - hanging on but doesn't look too good
parsley  - poor thing never stood a chance
rocket  - gone to seed
savory summer - doing well, about to go to seed
shallot  - This did well, i harvested them yesterday.  Will have a pic soon.
skirret  - doing well, as far as i can tell.  Don't know when to harvest...
squash summer - july did this guy in, we did get fruit off it though.
st john's wort - couldn't take the heat
strawberry - doing well, lots of flowers
strawberry blite - dried up in the july heat
thyme english - died in july as well.
tomato better boy - slow to ripen, but looking ok...
tomato cherokee black - big fat tomatos that something has been eating.
tomato sweet bell pepper - leaves wilted and plants died.
however, the new world plants are doing great.  What I thought was acorn squash is in fact pumpkins, and the corn is doing well also.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Going to Pennsic

Balm, or Melissa officinalis

strawberry, and pot marigold, called calendula



rosemary and sage

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rain, and War

Last week we finally had a good soaking rain, which has not occurred in quite some time, so I haven't had to water the garned in a few days now.  I porbably should have tonight, but I was getting plants ready to take to the Pennsic War and thought it would be nice to photograph each of them in their new pots.  But, i came to get the camera, took one pic and ran out of battery.  So here is the rue, also going is melissa, basil, strawberry, calendula, tansy, pinks, rosemary and sage.  Provided of course that they survive the potting up they got today.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fence and Water

Fence:  did some more work on the fence last week.  Posts were put in last year, assisted by Robert the Artificer and his machine, (dang that thing made a post hole in under two minutes) with welded wire stretched between, 8' high.  Some of the rails went in at that time, but a few of them are just enough over 10' to warrant longer boards.

Two sections now have this.  the bottom rails are plastic decking material, because they will be in contact with the earth.  So at least three sections are ready for the infill, which is coming at least partially from the drainage ditch by the new chickenhouse.

Next i've got to design and build a proper gate.  I do like the one on the front of Sylvia Landsberg's Medieval Gardens book.

Water:   an hour under the sprinkler barely dampened below the surface, so the water's been on for two now.  It is better to water every other day for two hours than once a day for one.

Oh, and the first two cucumbers were picked yesterday, and the first tomato should be perfect tomorrow!

New Chickenhouse

technically this is #3, but the second one was only temporary and has since been dismantled

the view from the house.  Here you can see the ditch leading away from the house

and here the ditch is filled in, there's still some dirt left to move, and that's the relevance to this blog.

Friday, June 29, 2012


This morning's rain having passed my garden by, i've turned on the water.  The Goodman of Paris instructed his young wife to water in the evening, never when the sun is hot.  And Thomas Hill in his Gardener's Labyrinth recommends watering "after a drought, or when many hot dayes have chanced together"  which certainly applies this week.  He also says that "the water best commended for watering of the plants, is the same drawn or gotten out of the river..."   Well I just happen to have a river coming through my property, so i've hauled water from there in buckets.  it's a great lot of work.  He also says that if you need to use water drawn up out of a well or pit that you should let it stand for two or three days, for the newly drawn water may enfeeble the plants becasue it is raw and cold.

Some progress has been made upon the fence as well, some drainage work around the new chickenhouse has left some extra dirt, which will go into raised beds that will be along the fence. 

it's hard to remember the blog when the weather is nice and the days are long, but some pictures are overdue.  But i've got to keep my act together as I am teaching a class on medieval gardening at the Pennsic War, which is an event put on by the Society for Creative Anachronism.  I have no idea how large my audience will be, or how critical, so i've got to be on my game, so i've re-read the books i've got here.

A Medieval Home Companion, translated and edited by Tania Bayard, is from the goodman of paris book, from ~1393, of which there are three copies made in the 15th c. 

The Gardener's Labyrinth, by Thomas Hill, first published in 1577 said to be the first gardening book in English, the edition i have is edited by Richard Mabey

Well it's time to put the chickens to bed, and by then the water will have been on for about an hour, which ought to be enough.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


So yesterday I took a little trip up to port murray to the Well-sweep herb farm.  Got to talk to Cyrus a little about old tools! and picked up a few things.  I was *really* hoping for mandrake and elecampane but they were out, so my haul last night was limited to Tansy, vervain, avens, feverfew, pinks, sage and cowslip.   all of these are well-documentable period plants, and you'll be seeing them here as they come into flower (provided they like where I put them)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Fathers day

Here are some more radsihes, freshly plucked from the earth.  These reseeded themselves from last year, and I don't recall planting white ones ever, so that one was a surprise

This is the strawberry bed, looking straight down at it, as compared to the same bed several posts ago

And here is a closeup of a ripe alpine strawberry.  Very small, but very tasty!
another view of the bed, nicely framed by the chard which is doing quite well, though something other than me has been eating it, wich doesn't make me too happy.
 below is the cucumber, in it's new cage.  i don't want it sprawling all over, it will be difficult to maintain it's surroundings if that happens, so i can train it up the cage and that will do nicely.  it will also keep the fruits from rotting on their bottoms

oo, here are some nice mellons.  i do like nice melons

Here is purslane, oo this stuff is yummy.  and it grows without any effort.  i'm holding it up toward the camera so it appears a bit larger of leaf than it is.  it has a low habit, but it is thick and fleshy and quite tasty.  I usually pick off the end leafs and add it to salads, though frequently i'll just sit in the garden grazing on it.

Here is a bit more purslane, and also you can see the use of radishes to mark the rows for carrots and parsnips (or maybe turnips i forget)

soon the yellow squash will be big enough to eat.  You can see a flower, and several very small squash on the other side of the plant.

This is an issue with the acorn squash.  the stems have been slit open.  i'm sure it's some kind of bug but i haven't seen one yet.  Do you know what does this?  the plants are still alive...

and here the acorn squash is with the corn.  As the beans are elsewhere, this would be then a two-sisters garden. 
Please post some comments so i don't feel like i'm blogging into the wind... 

Thanks for reading!

June 8th, First Harvest

Well, not exactly.  This was the first non-leaf harvest, a strawberry and a purple radish.  Yum!

Friday, June 15, 2012


Some friends have sent me a couple of links that may be of interest to you, so here they are.

From the medieval gardening yahoo group, one of the members has posted an article about Quince , here:

This one from a friend in conneticut who says they have some good information about Mary Gardens and Hospitallers Gardens. 

Thank you for sending these, I hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mower Nightmare, Gardening Joy.

My lawn is cursed.  That's the only thing i can figure.  It eats lawnmowers.  *sigh*  but enough of that.  The corn, beans and melons have all broken ground, so that's good.  The basil has some brown spots on it, but for the most part survived the transplanting out of the shoprite pot.  I've managed to collect enough grass clippings to use as mulch underneath the aforementioned plants, but currently only the push mower that Bev gave me is running.  Had to hook Thag up to the jeep and take the cub cadet to Mower Mike for an oil leak repair.  Cub Cadet, what an awful name.  Baby Amateur they may as well have called it. 

So i'm committed to having an herb garden at East Kingdom Royal encampment this coming pennsic.  Not sure what all i'll have, or who i'll get if from NJ to the site in western PA, but cross that bridge when I get to it.  Sage, Rue, and Balm most likely as they are either already in pots or well suited.  I've got to get up to Well-Sweep farm soon to flesh out my collection for this year.  I'm also waiting to hear back from the cook for the State Dinner that will be on the second monday.  It would be really nice to bring something that will be used in the dishes, and I may be able to provide something particularly unusual, say skirrets for instance.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


So here is the main bed, lettuces in the fore, chervil, strawberry blite, chard, thyme, st'john's wort and a lavender in the distance.

One thing I like about medieval gardening is plants that people these days don't know about.  So here follow some close-ups.  Hens and Chicks, called houseleek back then, with some chamomile flowers muscling into the scene.  the Chamomile is self-seeded from several years ago.  I get plenty if i can keep the deer from it.

Here is Chervil, which I had heard of but not actually seen before.  I haven't tasted it yet.

This is meadowsweet.  I have no idea what to do with it. 

Here is a nice foxglove that reseeded itself from somewhere.  Lovely flowers.  i'm not going to be eating this.

This is St John's Wort, leaf color varies red to green on this guy, i expect that is due to conditions of this particular spot.  It has a lovely fresh scent, but fairly faint.  Tiny leaves, too.

Strawberry Blite here, also called strawberry spinach (and here we begin to see the problems of nomenclature in any study of gardening)  This plant was reportedly 'rediscovered' in 13th century french monasteries.  The leaves are quite tasty and would make a good pot-herb.  It gets these odd little red berries on it's stems which are also edible but don't taste like much.  I did manage to grow this last year, but it failed around the time the tomato blight came through.  Hopefully this guy will be more productive.

And this is my regular strawberry bed, consisting of some modern variety, and the Alpine strawberry.  Alpine strawberries are quite small but they have such a wonderful rich flavor.  If any of these make it all the way into the house, it's a surprise indeed.  These are thought to be very much like medieval strawberries, at least what they are able to discern from surviving artworks.

Here is the white peony.  I've three peonies, two whites and a red, and their blooming is staggered.  The other white one is done already and the red is not yet out.  They don't last long especially when it rains, but they are a big lush flower.  There is an european peony but there are also asian varieties, and I don't know which these are, they were at the house when we bought it.

lastly this is by the cellar window.  I do like the old stone foundation, twenty inches thick.  the yellow flowers on the left is Rue.  The leafy shrubs in the foreground are azalea, which originates in asia, and the purple flowers are spiderwort. 

Thanks for reading.

June 2

Written on june 5, b ut it's about saturday.

Finally a weekend day to work around the house.  Added a row of Charentais melon to the garden, and pole beans as well.  I know they aren't medieval, but the wife likes them and I like to make her happy.

Did a fair bit of weeding, and started harvesting chard leaves.  Also purslane which is in my salad right now, for lunch.

Friday, June 1, 2012


So rather than plant basil from seed, which i am admittedly not terribly good at, or buying plants already started from the plantfolk, i just got a pot of it at shoprite.  They plant maybe 30 seeds in a 10"pot, so the poor guys get pretty crammed pretty quick.  So I got one and broke it up and filled a bed with them.  Got them in just before the rain tonight. 

Yesterday, or perhaps wednesday, I put in a few seedlings of acorn squash in a row.  Today added a bunch of corn seeds along with the squash.  Three sisters and all that.

I'll try and get to those pictures i mentioned last time....

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Much planting

Mothers day is often about plants, because mom's like flowers but also because by now any danger of frost is passed (at least around here)  So we went shopping.  From Tony at New Horizon plant farm, and also Cy at Well-Sweep Herb Farm.  Below is a list of what we picked up.  Nancy also picked up a couple of mints and some flowers for the pots on the deck.  I'll take some pictures of the beds, hopefully today.

lettucegreen ice
lettucegreen towers
lettucemesclun mix
st john's wort
strawberry blite
tomatobetter boy
tomatocherokee black
tomatosweet bell pepper

Monday, April 16, 2012


The Seed Savers Exchange is a phenomenal group of which I am a non-listed member.  While I hope to change that member status soon, that is a tale for a different time.  Through them I have found seeds of Rampion and Skirrets!!  Big huge thank-yous to Sourcepoint Seeds in Hotchkiss, CO! 

The rampion seeds are so tiny!

The skirrets look almost like caraway seeds to me.

I also found a stock of seeds in a drawer that never got put away properly.  These are Charentais melon, Tangerine, Pumpkin, Gerri Watermelon, Vintage Wine tomato, Cherokee Black tomato, Parsley from the windowbox in the livingroom, harvested feb 2012, and Cellar Window allium, which i found growing by my cellar window last year. 

sown today:
Flat 12-5
A  Parsley
B  Rampoin
C  Skirrets
D  Skirrets
Flat 12-6
A  Cellar Window Allium
B  Cherokee Black tomato
C  Vintage Wine tomato

There are sprouts of collards, peas, and two others from flat 12-4 that I've lost my notes on.  Flats 12-1 and 12-3 still have nothing.


We went to a medieval festival at Drew University this weekend passed, and upon our return took some photos
The apple tree has many blossoms, I hope to actually get an apple off it this year.

Above, the iris are doing well, behind them the peony is coming up

By the Cross is a new lily, and tulips.  There are also flag here, and daylilies and wild allium

This pot of Rue went to Mudthaw, and now the hearb-o-grace graces our front walk.  For now.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Cloisters

their daffodils look just like the ones in the tapestries.  I wonder what variety this is, and where they got them from.

Even the outside is beautiful.  Ft Tryon park is exceptionally hilly though, so we didn't get too far.

The beautiful Bonnefont cloister with it's wonderful garden.  This is where I proposed to my lady wife.

Resetting of the brick paths in the Trie cloister.  I do like the doubled columns, which are all of different colored stone