Gardening Advice, 1788

The Artist's Garden at Eragny by Pisarro, 1898

The Artist’s Garden at Eragny by Pisarro, 1898

Snippets 93. Last time we looked at some medical advice from The New British Jewel, or Complete Housewife’s Best Companion, published in 1788, a collection of recipes and other practical information. Reflecting a time where people had to be rather more self-sufficient than today, the book also includes detailed month-by-month instructions about gardening work, divided into section on “flower garden”, “fruit garden” and “kitchen garden”. The following is advice for September. How much of this information would still be useful for gardeners nowadays? Have methods changed? I would be interested to read comments from any keen gardeners, so please make use of the comments section below!


Work to he done in the flower garden.

The tulip, which demands the gardener’s chief attention, is propagated in the following manner; the stems of this flower being left remaining upon the root will perfect their seeds about July, which will be fit to gather when the seed vessels begin to burst, and then they are to be cut close to the ground in a dry day, and laid in some dry place till September, when they are to be sown in a soil composed of natural black earth and sand, and after their second appearance above ground, they may be taken from the pots they were sown in, and put in a bed of natural sandy foil well sifted, where the thickness of half an inch of the same earth should be spread over them, and thus they are to continue, without any other culture than every year adding half an inch for their covering, till they begin to blow, which will be in 5 or 6 years. Tulips planted this month need no shelter till March.

You may now take up the roots of the peony, part and plant them. The seed of the mullein may now be sown. Violets are increased by planting their runners either in this month or February. You may now increase daisies, by parting their roots. Layers of the honey suckle may now be put down.

There are seven sorts of jessamin: the common white, the yellow, and the persian jessamin are propagated from layers or cuttings in this month. The virgin’s bower is raised from layers in this month, also from cuttings. The seeds of the Virginia dog-wood are sown in autumn. The Virginia myrtle, which bears berries from which is drawn the green wax whereof candles are made, is propagated by sowing the berries in pots of black sandy earth. The berries of the sassafras tree, which is a plant of Virginia, is sown in autumn. You may now make layers or slips of the box tree, and the seeds may be sown as soon as ripe. The dwarf or Dutch box is of great use in edging.

Work to be done in the fruit garden.

You may now gather the different sorts of fruit as they ripen, for those that are in eating this month seldom continue long food. Transplant strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and currants, towards the end of this month, if the weather proves moist; and this is the best season to plant cuttings of gooseberries and currants.

Work to be done in the kitchen garden.

Sow Spanish radishes for the winter, and spinage. Make plantations of the Dutch brown lettuce; sow sorrel, chervil & small herbs for salads in some well exposed place. You may now replant endive and all fibrous rooted herbs; continue to earth up celery; raise the banks of earth about chardonees; transplant asparagus roots, make plantations for cabbages and coleworts, transplant young cauliflower plants, and also strawberries; make beds for mushrooms, and cover mushrooms sown in July every night; earth up all your winter plants, and, if the weather be dry, water your plants and herbs in the morning, and give your turnips the first hoeing.

“Jessamin” is an old name for jasmine. “Chardonees” is a variant spelling of chardonnay (grapes).

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