Saturday, 13 April 2013

tudor time

Spring finally showed up this week, so I have been getting on with some seed sowing - it feels so good to finally get my fingers in the dirt again.  Lots is written on the subject of the correct soil temperature for seed germination - lord knows I've been banging on about it myself in relation to my hotbed.  But forgive me, it's my first time - I've been like an over anxious parent checking the temperature of the baby's bathwater with a thermometer.  As everyone knows, the best thing to do is roll up your sleeve and dip your elbow in.  Same with soil, although not your elbow - get your hands in it.  If it feels like a warm and inviting place to be, (imagining of course that you are a seed*), then it's the right time to sow.

One of the areas in my care is the garden for a Tudor longhouse. The timbers of the house have been dated to the 1500's so we try to reflect that with the look and contents of the garden. It has wooden raised beds based on images from woodcuts of the period, and the seed is broadcast rather than sown in rows**

 I grow a medieval broad bean...

martock beans

...and a pea that gets a mention in 1660...

carlin peas

...some texts talk about sowing seed as mixtures, so I'm trying a mix of carrots, turnips and parsnips.

carrot, parsnip and turnip mixture

Not sure how well this will work - the turnips and parsnips might be too muscly for the carrots.  Will let you know how I get on with that.  It's only a titchy garden, but I'll also be growing some leeks, garlic (already in), and a bed of coleworts and collards.  These loose headed kale-y things are much older in date than the ball shaped cabbages we grow today.  Maps of the period sometimes have gardens marked as 'kale yards'. 

There's also a herb bed that's in the process of renovation, so I'll be growing some more stuff for that this year.  But more of that another time....

*This takes me way back to the first few weeks of my degree with a bunch of very self conscious 18 year olds in our first drama workshops. "Be a tree.... Don't just be a tree - be what a tree means to you..." ?!?! 

**Sowing seed in rows is first mentioned in gardening texts of the late 17th century, soon after the invention of the farmers' horse drawn seed drill.


  1. Oh my, each time i head out with an eager client they end up with dirty hands as well. And they say mud is lovely on the skin, I find it's just drying.

    Gorgeous colour in the seeds. How cool are those peas?

  2. They're fab aren't they? Starchy as hell to eat green because they're a pea for drying - same with the beans. The older gardens are all about growing food to feed yourself through the winter.

    (I also get through vats of hand cream)