Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hi guys! I think, I hope, I can now say that Spring has finally come! Winter is actually my favorite, but Spring is much better for our garden! This week, I’ll share with you some facts about medieval traditions and customs in spring.

In their Medieval Book of Seasons, Margaret Collins and Virginia Davis say that “the hot, moist yet temperate conditions of spring, corresponding to the element air and the bodily humor blood (characteristic of the fortunate ‘sanguine’ temperament) favor certain human activities in diet and hygiene.”[1] This seems to be a very favorable climate for growing things, as well as for the other activities discussed. This was the crucial season for planting and growing on a large scale, for ordinary and wealthy alike (although the wealthy had someone do it for them). Medieval farmers prepared the land with ploughs led by strong work animals and manure “carefully husbanded throughout the winter” and then spread on their fields as a nutritious fertilizer.[2] Plowing, fertilizing, harrowing and seeding the land were all part of the medieval farmers’ labor. Harrowing a second time, after the seeds were planted, was a way to keep “greedy birds” away from the newly planted seeds: another method was to have a bowman on guard, ready to “[deter] predators and [acquire] a welcome addition to his dinner table at the same time.”[3]

On a smaller scale, they say “crops could be grown in the croft or the little enclosure around the peasant dwelling”[4] Onions, peas and leaks were grown frequently. Also grown were herbs, which John H. Harvey reports “were to be washed and boiled…and poured over pieces of diced bread.”[5]

Mmmm, sounds good to me! (I’m quite a bread-eater) Come and find out some more about the edible plants in our own medieval garden!

[1] Collins, Margaret B., Davis, Virginia, A Medieval Book of Seasons, (Harper Collins Publishing: New York, 1992).
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] John H. Harvey, “Vegetables in the Middle Ages.” Garden History, Vol. 12, (1984): 89-99

No comments:

Post a Comment