Volume 2 Issue 5, July 2001

All articles were originally published in various Lochac Garden and Herbal newsletters and are copyrighted their respective authors and are reproduced here with their permission.

The Kitchen Garden – Sigurd Trygvarsson


Ever since people began growing plants for food they have found it convenient to grow their favorite herbs and vegetables close together. A kitchen garden is simply this a garden, often near the kitchen, where herbs and vegetables are grown.

Then as now a lot of vegetables were grown as field crops mainly those such as; Peas and onions, which can be stored for later use. A monastery or manor house may grow these in their fields while a town dweller would probably buy them in, this would save precious garden space for herbs and vegetables that need to be used fresh. It would seem likely from sources such as Le Menagier de Paris and the plan of St. Gall Monastery that small quantities of field crops were also grown in the kitchen garden.


To find out what were grown in the vegetable gardens of our period we can turn to several sources. Cookery books, for example “Take a thousand eggs or more”. Period writings on the subject. eg. the chapter on gardening in “Le Menagier de Pars” [This book is a series of discourses on managing a 14thC household written by their author to his 15 year old wife]. Plans of monasteries such as the St. Gall plan, this plan includes the design of a kitchen garden [9thC]. Other sources are also available, the ones mentioned above are available as modem translations or in books on the subject.


  • Onions Allium cepa
  • Garlic Allium sativum
  • Leek Allium porrum
  • Shallots Allium ascalonium
  • Celery Apium gravaeolens
  • Parsley Petrosolenium crispum
  • Coriander Coriandrum sativum
  • Chervil Anthriscus cerefoloium
  • Dill Anethum graveolens
  • Lettuce Latuca sativa
  • Poppy Papaver somniferum
  • Savoury Satureja hortensis
  • Radishes Raphanus sativus
  • Parsnip Peucedanum sativum
  • Carrots Daucus carota
  • Coleworts Brassica sp
  • Beet Beta vulgaris
  • Black cumin


This list does not contain all the plants mentioned in this text, only some of those that may have been found in contemporary kitchen gardens are listed.

  • Parsely Petroselenium crispum
  • Sage Sativa officinalis
  • Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis
  • Rosemary Rosmarius officinalis
  • Thyme Thymus vulgaris
  • Garlic Allium sativum
  • Borage Borago officinalis
  • Cabbage Brassica oleracea
  • Leeks Allium porrum
  • Mallow Althea sp
  • Savoury Satureja hortensis
  • Sorrel Rumex acetosa
  • Tansy Tanceatum vulgare [CAUTION TOXIC)
  • Violets Viola odorata


Kitchen gardens within the SCA time period came in many different sizes, but most would have consisted of rows of rectangular beds usually raised above the path. Unless you wish to create an exact replica you can use any type of garden bed or even pots to create a kitchen garden.


  • Go to your spice rack and write down all of the dried herbs that you have.
  • List all of the fresh herbs and green vegetables that you regularly buy
  • List all of the herbs and vegetables. that you would like to grow
  • Combine all of these lists; this should give you a fair idea of what you want/need to plant in your kitchen garden.
  • Find a spot close to your kitchen [outside] to put the garden, if the garden is too far away from the kitchen the herbs tend not to be used, especially in wet weather [Somewhere with an external light is also good its terrible to find that you’ve picked tansy instead of parsley in the dark, its even worse not to!]
  • If there are no garden beds in this area and no way to create one, pots are a great option.

To prepare a garden bed

  • Choose a sunny area if possible, remove any grass or weeds from the soil
  • Add well-rotted cow manure or compost, it is also possible to buy good quality soil from many nurseries.
  • If the soil is heavy or clayey the bed may need to rise above the surrounding soil, this was a common practice in period, use timber, bricks or any other material to keep the soil in place.


For a potted garden simply use a good potting mix and plant your plants. There are too many different ways to set up the garden to mention here.


  • MINT I always have at least one type of mint in the garden, it likes damp spots, grows well in the shade and can be used in every thing from meatballs, drinks and sauces. [Best on its own or in a pot it is very invasive]
  • CHIVES One of the most used herbs in my garden, plant a lot near the kitchen door and they will find their way into most dishes, they grow best in sunlight, the flowers are beautiful,
  • PARSLEY The more of this the better, like chives this will find its way into most dishes. I prefer the broad leaf variety although the curly parsley makes a pretty garnish.
  • SAVORY This aptly named herb is good in stews bean dishes and as a stuffing herb, there are 2 main varieties summer savory, an annual, and winter savory, a perennial, both like the sun.
  • SORREL This is a perennial leafy plant with slightly acidic tasting leaves it dies back in winter returning in spring. It is good in soups salads and used as a general green vegetable [it does contain oxalic acid so it should be eaten with some moderation]
  • SILVERBEET This is a plant that if picked leaf by leaf can last quite a while it likes to be well fertilized and in a sunny position great either cooked or in salads.
  • OTHER MUST HAVE PLANTS Basil, Rosemary, Sage, Alpine Strawberries and Peppermint

Renfrow.C. Take a thousand eggs or more Two 15thC cookery books. 1990
Landsberg S The Medieval Garden British Museum press, Thames and Hudson Italy.

To make a Lip Cream for sore lips – Caristiona nic Beathain

Wax and oil based creams were and still are a very popular way to make an ointment that can be stored. Today we often make creams that are then scented with essential oils, or use essential oils to make medicinal creams. Essential oils and the distillation of oils were only starting to become possible during the Renaissance. Before then plants were soaked in oil for a number of days, weeks, or sometimes even months so that the oil would be infused with the qualities of the plant. The below recipe is one that was used for chapped and sore lips. It was used with an oil that had been infused, so I have given the oil recipe as well so that it can be tried with a period oil rather than by using a rose essential oil.

To make oyle of Roses. Take Oyle eighteen ounces, the washed buddes of Roses the white endes of them cut away three ounces, lay the Roses abread in the shadow foure and twenty howres, the put them in a Glasse to the Oyle, and stop the glasse close; and set it in the Sunne at least forty dayes.

The Widowes Treasure

The maner how to washe the Oyle. Take and put it into a Bason of fair water, and beate it well with your hande that the drosse may fall downe, then take of that parte which remaineth above on the Water with a Soone, and put the same Oyle into another bason of faire water and wash it as you did before so purifie it three or foure times.

The Widowes Treasure

To make the Oil. The above recipe probably refers to red roses (the white endes of them cut away), however any colour roses can be used. They need to be washed and dried you may like to remove the bases of the petals, though this is not strictly necessary. Once you have done that place the rose petals in a jar of oil, when the petals are fresh I tend to use about three good-sized handfuls to a 1-liter jar of oil. Dried roses are stronger so just 1-1 1/2 handfuls should be enough for a 1-liter jar. This is then set in the sun for about a month.

Make sure that the oil is not in a place where it can become so hot that the oil will turn rancid. You may also like to strain out the petals and replace them with some more half way through the month. This is when using red or darkly coloured roses can be useful, as you can see when it is time to change the petal, by the lack of colour in the petals still in the oil. After you have made your rose oil it does need to be cleaned. It can be strained through linen and then used, or if you want to increase the quality and increase the length of time you can keep your ointment for, you may like to clean the oil a bit more. This can be one by using the recipe above.

Put the oil in a bowl of water (after it has been strained) stir it and then carefully remove the oil. Removing the oil can be done with a spoon, or an easier way to do it is to carefully soak the oil up with cotton wool and then gently ring the oil into another container. When you have a large amount of oil it is easy to remove it with a spoon, once you get closer to the water you may like to use the cotton wool. This oil can then be used to make your lip ointment.

To make the lip ointment I have made this ointment a little more oily then most other creams, this is because it feels nice on lips and protects them better.

To heal lippes that are chapt with winde or colde. New waxe, Masticke, and Frankensence, with oyle of Roses, al this made in an ointment, and therewith anoint the chappes, and they wil heale presently.

The Widowes Treasure

15 ml Water
30ml of Rose Oil
10 gm of bees wax.
Mastic, 1 pinch.
Franckinsence, 1 pinch.

  • Grind the Mastic and Frankincense together in a mortar and pestle until you have a fine powder.
  • Heat the Oil and the Wax together until the wax has melted. (Do this on a double boiler). At the same time heat the water until small bubbles start to rise to the surface, but not until the water is boiling.
  • Add the Mastic and Frankincense to the wax and oil mixture.
  • Then take the wax and oil mixture and the water off the heat, add the water to the wax and oil mixture and start mixing (an electric beater can be really useful here).
  • Mix until the mixture has totally cooled and remains together. If it separates you can put a small pinch of Lux flakes in the mixture and reheat the mixture and then start beating all over again until the mixture has cooled, this will stop it from separating.

White, E. The Widowes treasure, plentifully furnished with sundry precious and approoved secretes in Physicke, and Chirugery for the health and pleasure of mankinde. Printed at London by Edwarde Alde for Edward White, 1588.