Back in March, the museum sponsored a Spring Clean Day. Denise from the Volunteer Program rounded up nearly 300 people. Teams were formed and everyone had work. Team Q was the English Village Gardens Team, and boy, am I a day late and a dollar short in extending my thanks. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. Or should i say “QQQQQQQQQQ” – Ten Q.
None of this was glamour work, by the by, it was moving compost piles, top dressing garden beds, taking out old, worn structures, moving the famous New England stones, creating new pathways and walk ways. Terry and Justin were great team leaders; I ran from garden to garden to try to keep track of what had been done and what still needed doing, moving the too few tools for the great number of people who showed up. Fuller and Hickes gardens were completely rebuilt and Allerton garden got a major face-lift as well.
The benefits of that work is very apparent in the gardens today. We’ve been planting spinach, turnips, radishes, cabbages and coleworts (coleworts are an older way of saying collards), lettuce, garlic, leeks… in short the things we’ll be using over the summer and into the winter. Things that are coming up, some as rabbit food (bad bunny) and some as ground hog salads (very bad woodchuck) and the cabbage family cousins as safe haven for flea beetle. There’s so much life and death in a garden, it seems ironic that some people do it for relaxation. Although it is very satisfying, eating a plate of something that had once been a little seed in your hand. I’ve been advocating a 10 minute a day plan to keep up in the garden. Ten minute to pull a few weeds, plant a row of one thing, and just tromp around and see how things are going. If I could just find ten minutes to follow my own advice at home!
We’re just now seeing the last of the asparagus, so it’s time to put in the cucumbers and pompions.
John Forti, Horticulturist at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth NH – and formerly here – has an article out in Early American Life magazine on seventeenth century kitchen gardens, including directions on how to build your own.
Or you could stop in and ask a pilgrim.
Colonial Foodways Culinarian