An 1860's Historic Ethnic Garden

An 1860's Historic Ethnic Garden

Part of Ep. 701 The Heirloom Garden Pt. 1

Tour the Schulz Farmstead at Old World Wisconsin featuring Pomeranian elements such as a front vegetable garden and wattle fences.

Premiere date: Mar 06, 1999

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Old World Wisconsin is a living history museum near Eagle, Wisconsin. It's a great place to learn how Wisconsinites lived and gardened during the 19th century. We join Director, Tom Woods, for a tour of this 1860s homestead.

Tom:
Welcome to Old World Wisconsin.

Shelley:
Thank you.

Tom:
It's America's largest outdoor museum of ethnic rural life. Here we are at the Schulz Farmstead from 1860. This is a good example of ethnic retention from Pomerania. This is called a wattle Fence. It was great for keeping out pigs and rabbits.

Shelley:
That would look great in a modern garden, too, with vines draped over it.

Tom:
Grape vines love this fence. Behind us, you can see the Schulz house. It's called a fachwerk house, typical of Pomerania.

Shelley:
What about the gardens? How did they garden in 1860?

Tom:
Well, you notice that the garden is in the front yard. There's no lawn. That's because they couldn't go to the grocery store and buy food. It was very important for them to raise enough food that they could live on all year long.

Shelley:
So, no lawn, because no time for leisure activities, too, then.

Tom:
Absolutely.

Shelley:
Did they focus on any particular crops, then?

Tom:
Lots of root crops.

Shelley:
This is what looks like a healthy crop of horseradish here. That's a good root crop.

Tom:
That's horseradish. And you have to have lots of horseradish in a good german garden!

Shelley:
Why root crops, Tom? Why did they focus on those?

Tom:
Root crops were a real easy crop for them to store, either in root cellars or in pits.

Shelley:
There were no refrigerators or freezers back then, that's right.

Tom:
Absolutely. Here's a good example of a root crop. It was very important to 19th century gardeners. These are turnips. Next to them, we have a row of rutabagas.

Shelley:
Both store very nicely.

Tom:
They do. They were a root crop that were sliced for family use on the table and also used for animals.

Shelley:
So, they fed it to the livestock, as well?

Tom:
Absolutely. And then, they even used it for other purposes.

Shelley:
What is that?

Tom:
This is a turnip that's been sliced in half, filled with lard and then a cotton wick has been inserted. And it is pioneer lighting.

Shelley:
I read somewhere that they also-- the first jack-o'-lanterns were made out of carved turnips. So, they would have looked something like that.

Tom:
That's right. I've heard that, too.

Shelley:
So, root crops make sense. But here I see cabbage.

Tom:
Cabbage also was easy to store. It was something they could put in their root cellar. It's also something they could store as sauerkraut. This is a Winnigstet variety, very popular with the Germans. Here's Celeriac, a nice root crop.

Shelley:
Beautiful leaves.

Tom:
It also grows in this climate much better than celery.

Shelley:
And I suppose, again, because it's a root crop, it probably stores a lot better than celery.

Tom:
That's right.

Shelley:
Now, I also see what looks like kohlrabi, which stores quite nicely.

Tom:
Kohlrabi, a new planting of radishes...

Shelley:
Another root crop again, sure.

Tom:
Two rows of carrots. A very important long, orange carrot and the early horn carrot.

Shelley:
And those, you can store almost through the entire winter.

Tom:
That's right. And here is long, red beets. And I want to show you another couple of kinds of beets right here. These are called Mangel Wurzels.

Shelley:
Those are enormous!

Tom:
They are. They get a lot bigger than this, too. This is the Red Mangel, a nice red color. And this is the Yellow Mangel.

Shelley:
Now, were these for human consumption or for the livestock?

Tom:
They were used for both human and livestock. But they get a little woody when they get large. Now, the Parisian farmers really liked the yellow because of the color it gave to their milk, that buttery look.

Shelley:
Oh, great. Are there other parts of the garden that we can look at today?

Tom:
Yes, I'd like to show you our flower garden.

Shelley:
You know, Tom, I tend to focus on the heirloom vegetables so much, I forget that flowers were a very important part of our past.

Tom:
They really were. The Purple Coneflower is a wonderful example. It's Echinacea. And it's used today by people as a way to improve their immune system. Shelley:
Was it used like that in the 1860s, though?

Tom:
It really was. Flowers were used in many different ways, as herbals, as well as decorative items.

Shelley:
So, they all had to serve a purpose.

Tom:
Absolutely.

Shelley:
Well, here's an herb I recognize-- Tansy. This is just beautiful. It's so tall, too. It's gorgeous.

Tom:
Tansy is a wonderful example of a multi-purpose flower. Since the middle ages, their florets were used in different ways, for dystepsia, for one thing, as an anti-hysteric.

Shelley:
Oh, that could be very popular now!

Tom:
It was crushed and the oils were used as an abortive. And the leaves were used-- after they were crushed, they were used as a Poltice.

Shelley:
They also have a very aromatic smell to them.

Tom:
The whole plant smells wonderful.

Shelley:
That's great. Thanks, Tom. Modern-day gardeners should also remember this is great in dried flower arrangements.

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