Category Archives: Arte of Gardening

Arte of Gardening Food Medicine

It breedes winde and belly-ache

These snippets come from a 1599 guide to the provenance of fruits, herbs, and vegetables by T Butts; a curious work which combines origins and history with specific health-related facts.

Grapes:
That Grapes are verie nourishing, it is well seene by the Grape-gatherers in the time of Vintage, for they eat little or nothing else, yet growe they passing fat and corpulent.  The superexcellency of this plant and frute is inestimable…. grapes cause thirst and wind: trouble the belly: immoderately used breed Collicke passions: puffe the spleene and make it sicke; encrease delusions in old folkes.

Peaches:
Those Peaches, whose meate cleaveth to the stone are commended of some, as also, such as seeme friezed over with a thinne downe, like a Quince… peaches being moist, soft, and flatulent, they endgender humours very subject to corruption; evil for old flegmaticke and weake stomackes.

Orenges:
The flowers of this plant are silver-coloured; and from them is distilled a water surpassing all other in fragrancy and sweete smell. Whence they are called Aurantia, gold in Latine, in English properly and truly Aurange, but we have both them and their name by tradition from the French. So we both speake and write it Orenge…  Exquisitely sweet oranges are too hot; the lower coole, and offend the stomacke: stuffe the belly: constraine the brest and arteries.

Limons:
The citron, Limon or Orenge, growe especially on the sea-coasts of Italy. They were first brought out of Media into these parts. They beare fruite all the yeare long, some at the same time ripe and falling off, other but now budding and sprouting forth. All say a Limon in Wine is good… lemons cause collicke passions and leaneness.

Pomegranats:
If one eate three small Pomegranate flowers (they say), for an whole yeare, he shall be safe from all manner of eye-sore. Sharp pomegranates offend the teeth and gummes: constrain the brest; not for old folkes.

Hasil (hazel) nuts:
Nut in English, of Nux the Latine: and Nux a Nocendo, because it annoyeth all other plantes or hearbes that are subject and obnoxious to his leaves-dropping. They are windie, engender much choller: cause headacheth if much eaten.

Melons, commonly called pomions:
This fruite is the greatest or biggest of all Hearbes or Trees. That it hath a scouring and cleansing property is evident in that if you rub any part of the body with it, it becommeth much the brighter and cleaner…  it breedes winde and belly-ache.

Olive:
The Olive was an Embleme of peace ever since the Dove brought an Olive leafe in her mouth into Noahs Arke. The Spanish Olives are bigger than the Italian. Besides that the Spanish have an odd unsavoury smell, and looke yellow, unpleasant to the eye. Olives cause watchfulnesse: much eaten they stuffe the head, especially the salted.

Foennill or Finkle (fennel):
Snakes and Serpents by eating of Foenill renew their age and repair their decaied sight by rubbing their eyes with it. Wherefore it used of us to the like purpose. There is a bad propertie in the seed, to breede poysonous wormes, whose poyson is curable by no Antidot. Fennel doth inflame the blood.

Sparage (asparagus):
Some say that Sparage causeth barrennesse: but it is not probable, sithence it nourisheth very much and manifestly provoketh Venus. Eaten cold, disposeth to vomit.

Borage:
Surely it is a most excellent hearbe, and of speciall use. It hath this peculiar vertue, that laied in Wine it strengthneth and cheareth the heart, putting merry conceits into the minde. But it doeth greatly annoyeth sore mouthes.

Leeks:
Garlick, Onion, and Leekes are very holesome, but their odour is passing loathesome and offensive. Wherefore some have thought of a medicament to take away the sent of them. But none like Syr Thomas More: to take away the smell of Onions, eate leekes, and to convince your Leekes, eate a clove or two of Garlicke: and if then Garlicke breath be strong, choke him with a turd. Leeks dimmeth the sight.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Arte of Gardening Family Household Medicine

How to Write Secretly

These snippets are from a charming little pamphlet entitled A New BOOK of Knowledge, written anonymously, and printed in 1697. A sort of proto-Mrs Beeton, the selected household advice runs from drawing out splinters, to how to write your name on a knife. What follows are some of the more intriguing entries:

How to Write Secretly: Take Alum, and beat it into a Pouder; then put some into a Sawcer of clean Water, till it dissolve: write with this, and dry it by the fire; so you may dispose of it how you please: but when you would read it, wet the Paper in clean Water, and it will appear of a Blewish Colour. There are divers ways of Writing privately, as with the Juice of Limons or Onions; but this exceeds all in my opinion, by reason the others may be seen before the Light, when dry; but this may not, if thoroughly dry.

To help a Chimney that is dangerously on Fire: Let two or three Persons take a Blanket or Coverlet, and hold it close to the Mouth of the Chimney that no Air may enter, and with a close Board, cover the Top of the Chimney; and the Fire, for want of Air, will soon be Extinguished.

Turkies will become very Fat in a short time, and prosper exceedingly, with bruised Acorns.

To keep Apparel, Hangings &c. from Moths: Brush them several times in the Year with a Brush made of Wormwood Tops, and you may rub them with Wormwood, especially when you discern Moths to haunt amongst the Hangings.

An Ointment to kill the ITCH: Take a pennyworth of Black Soap, and a pennyworth of Boars-grease, beat them together in Water, and anoint therewith when it itcheth.

To destroy Caterpillars: Besmear all the bottom of the Tree with Tar, then get a great store of Ants; put them into a Bag, and draw the same with a Cord unto the Tree, and let it hang there, so that it touch the Body of the Tree; and the Ants being prevented to go from the Tree by reason of the Tar, will want for Food, eat and destroy the Caterpillars, without hurting any of the Fruit or Leaves.

To take Fish: Set a Candle in a piece of Cork, as even as may be with the Water, which will stupify and attract the Fishes to it, so that with a little Hoop Not, upon the end of a Cane or Staff, you may take them with much facility.

To get Ink-Spots out of Linnen: Lay it in Urine immediately after the Ink has dropped on it, and there let it lye all night, and the next day wash it out again; and in so doing two or three times, you will find the Spots and Stains quite out.

To catch CROWS: Take white Pease, steep them eight or nine days in the Gall of an Ox, and lay them in some place where they use to come.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Actor Arte of Gardening London Love Marriage Stage

Let my orange stockings be dyed

This snippet is a charming insight into the intimacy and domesticity between man and wife in early modern London. Edward Alleyn (1566 -1626), actor and major figure in Elizabethan theatre, writes home to his wife Joan for news while touring the provinces with the Lord Strange’s Men. His nickname for Joan is Mouse.

Mouse, you send me no news of anything. You should send of your domestic matters, such things as happen at home, as how your distilled water proves this or that or any other thing you will… and jug, I pray you, let my orange tawny stockings of wool be dyed a good black against home I come to wear them in the winter. You send me no word of your garden but next time you will remember this, in any case, that all the bed which was parsley in the month of September, you should sow with spinach for then is the time. I would do so myself but we shall not come home ’til All Hallows tide, so farewell sweet Mouse.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Arte of Gardening

To delight a bee

Today’s snippets are taken from The Arte of Gardening by Thomas Hill, originally published in 1563. Hill’s useful book covers everything from secret fencing of a garden to the worthyness of dungs. At the end of his book, he includes  a treaty entitled A Profitable Instruction Of The Perfect Ordering Of Bees, With The Marvellous Nature, property, and gouvernement of them: and the necessary uses, both of their Hony and Waxe.

What follows are several of Hill’s more unusual gardening tips & bits of advice.

On the Care of Bees:

Certain Bees stand in the day tyme at the mouthes of the hives, diligently looking to their business, like warders placed at the gates of a Castle, that they may so defend in safeguard whom they will within. In the night tyme they settle themselves to rest unto morning, untill one of them by humming twice or thrice about, doth so stirre them forward to flie out after the other. Being a cleare and faire morning, then do they flie forthe, and returne again to their hives, laden with the substance of the flowers on their legs for their business.

A Keeper of Bees must:

refraine [from] the Veneriall Act, not be a person fearfull, nor comming to the hive with unwashed handes and face: and one that ought to refraine in a manner from all smelling meats, Onions, Garlicke, and such like, which the Bees greatlie abhore: besides, to be then sweete of bodie, cleanlie in apparell, minding to come unto their hives, for in all cleanliness and sweetness the bees are much delighted.

To grow an entire Italian salad from one stalk:

Lettice, Parsely, Rocket & Basil may grow altogether out of one stem or stalke: take 2 or 3 small balles of the Goat or sheepes dung, and those breake, and mingle the seedes together in them,after, role altogether into a round ball, which after set into new Cow dung, and covering the same with well dressed and fine earth, then gently water.

To protect a garden from hail, he advises a Greek method:

compass your allies (alleys) about with the skin of a Sea-Calfe, or else the best Hiena or the Crocadile, and to hang any of these skinnes also at the entrance or comming in of the garden. He also suggests that the garden ‘shall not be harmed by lightnings’ if it is similarly covered with the hide of a Hippapotamus.

Hill notes that:

hearbes and young plantes after they bee come up, be diverslie in danger to certaine small Beastes and creeping thinges, living as well under the earth as above, and advises that by all meanes possible that can bee devised either with fire, smoake or Iron, they be bitterly expelled and driven out of the Garden.

He recommends the following methods for removing some of the more aggravating’creeping things’:

As touching the Caterpillars that greatly annoy and spoyle the hearbes of the Garden, sprinckle the Plants or trees with bloudy twigs, as a speciall remedy to drive them so away.

You may take all the Moles in your garden by an easie manner: If that you get a quick Mole, put the same into a deepe earthen pot, setting the edge to the earth: which Mole, after a while feeling himselfe thus inclosed, will crye out, and after the other Moles in that ground doe thus heare him cry, they will hastily draw neere unto him, and minding to helpe him forth, will so fall into the pot. And now by this safe means, if you will, you may take and destroy all the Moles in your garden.

If you take the maw [stomach] of a weather sheepe new killed, not washed, but having all the filth hanging theron, which lightlie cover with earth in that place, where they most swarme in the garden, and after two dayes, you shall finde a marvellous companie of Moths and other flies heaped thereupon, which either carry away, or bury very deepe in that place.

If wormes hang to the rootes of the plants or hearbes through the naughtinesse of the dunge, then weede the Beds and plants verie diligently.

Garden Mice may bee driven away, if you sprinckle the beds with the Ashes of the Weesel, or with that water sprinckled on the beds in which a Catte hath been walked.

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