It is going to be fun posting articles from this book. You will see that with this first blog. Nearly all of us nowadays garden purely for pleasure, most of us is smallish gardens. This little book does not pretend to be a solemn guide to all gardening folklore, but only to pass on with a moderately straight face, some of the old gardening folk wisdom in the hope that bits of it, at least , might prove useful to you.
Were the old wives telling tales? A quick look at some old folklore
Always grow some herbs outside the herb garden.
What an absurd idea. A herb garden is for herbs, so a flower garden is for flowers and a veggie garden for vegetables, isn't it? That, at least, is how the severely logical modern mind is likely to react. We are used to everything being where we want and expect to find it. We don't go shopping expecting to buy bread at the chemists, or fruit in the hardware shop, so why, for goodness sake, scatter herbs around outside the herb garden?
There is a reason, and a very practical one. To our grand parents and our more distant ancestors, the garden was the source of food and medicine. They had a lot less wealth and leisure than nearly all of us have today, and it was a practical necessity to get it right when it came to gardening. Gardening folklore, old wives tales was of no use to them if it didn't provide useful guidance, so although a lot of it may sound illogical and occasionally farcical to us, it often turns out to be a mixture of common sense and practical experience.
So why should we grow a few herbs outside the herb garden then? Because many plants classified as herbs contain natural chemicals that either encourage growth in other plants or protect them against pests and disease.
For example, cabbage planted around with sage, thyme or rosemary do well, borage helps strawberries thrive, pot marigolds secrete an insect repellent that protects many surrounding plants, parsley encourages bees and also protects asparagus, beans and carrots and son on. That's why in the old cottage garden, things often appeared haphazard with different plants or herbs or vegetables scattered here or there apparently but not in fact, at random. When you know the reason, it's perfectly straightforward. Next time here is an interesting article. "If you want to know when to sow, take your trousers off and sit on the ground! " Till next time this is Becky Litterer from Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty, Iowa