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....