Flossie is excited to be back in contact with you again. Fairy school has started up again (has yours?) and she took a tour of the Van Der Veer garden. Historic Bath Site’s garden is located behind the 1790 Van Der Veer House, and it is also a memorial garden dedicated to Dr. Herbert Paschal who loved Bath and wrote a book about it in the 1950s.
The summer plants are starting to die off and be replaced with fall/winter crops. Flossie loves watching the pumpkin vines grow. She will really be excited when she starts to see little pumpkins growing!
Seeing the tiny rutabaga plants sprouting up after recent rains has been fun to watch, too. However, Flossie thinks they STINK when cooking! She hasn’t been able to develop a taste for this vegetable, but don’t take a fairy’s word for it – try them for yourself! Rutabagas are a root crop, so they will be developing under the dirt as they grow, like potatoes and carrots do.
Today, many people garden as a hobby and enjoy eating the produce they harvest. In the past, people really depended on their crops in order to feed their families. Remember, there wasn’t a Food Lion or Harris Teeter down the road back in the 1700s! Even well into the 1900s, it was sometimes hard for people to get to town from rural locations (imagine narrow dirt roads with big potholes after a lot of rain), so crops were stored in various ways to keep them good for a number of months. Three methods of food preparation and storage come to Flossie’s mind from her garden lesson – burying root crops and cabbages in the ground and insulating them with straw was one way to keep food stored through the cooler winter months. Another way to preserve some fruits (plums, apples), vegetables (carrots and corn) and even meat (fish and beef) was by drying the food by air, the sun or even in front of a fireplace. The removal of moisture from the food helps prevent spoiling. The third method Flossie learned about was salting the food. The salt and saltpeter (potassium nitrate for the young scientists!) also work to draw out moisture that causes decay in meat and harmful organisms can’t live in that much salt! Most hog killings, and other butchering (such as of deer killed on hunts) would take place in cold weather. That way, the salt had the chance to work on preserving the meat before it could spoil. There is a photograph of a smokehouse in the top photograph of this blog entry. Some meat would be hung from the rafters inside the smokehouse after being packed in barrels full of salt for six weeks or more. Have you ever tasted salty country ham? That flavor would have been in much of the food eaten in days gone by.
Today life is different with the invention of electricity and refrigeration. Although most people in America don’t have to depend on raising their own gardens or butchering animals we hunt or raise for food, it is a good idea to learn some of the old ways. If you have a grandparent who wants to show you how to raise the best tomatoes or has hints on how to get a chicken to lay lots of eggs for you, pay attention! It is important knowledge that is being forgotten over time and you may want to know how to do some of this stuff one day!
Flossie is tired now……..she loves sleeping on the marigolds because the flowers feel like little cushions! The strongly scented marigolds are planted in Historic Bath’s garden because the smell keeps away some pests……since fairies are not pests, Flossie isn’t affected in the slightest!