Love Apples for Valentine’s Day

Love Apples for Valentine's Day

We are now in High Summer in Melbourne.  February brings warm weather, windy skies, very little rain but if we are lucky a glut of tomatoes for Valentine’s Day.

This week I am continuing my quest to find out how Australians gardened during the Victorian Era. Did we grow and eat tomatoes?

Turning to the esteemed Mrs Beeton it is clear that tomatoes were grown in Victorian England but were not as popular as she felt they should be.

Tomato, or Love Apple an admirable sauce by itself, it enters largely into a great number of our best and most wholesome sauces.  It also may be cooked and brought to the table like other vegetables, in several different ways; or eaten raw cut into slices like cucumber, but much thicker, and dressed with salt and pepper, oil and vinegar in the same way. When prepared in this manner, as a salad, a few slices of onion will be found an improvement. Further, it is extremely palatable when eaten as a fruit, dipped in sugar. Those who have analysed its properties say that the tomato is singularly wholesome, and very useful, especially in cases of bad digestion; still, it is not appreciated or cultivated as it ought to be.   Mrs Beeton’s Garden Management.

Mrs B's Simple Love Apple Salad - Yummy!

Inspired I prepared tomatoes with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper as Mrs B suggests.  The tomatoes were still warm from the garden; served with crusty bread this simple salad suggestion was simply fabulous.

Mrs Beeton’s advice for growing tomatoes follows the steps that would be very familiar to any modern gardener. Tomato seeds are planted in late winter keeping the pots in a glasshouse or on the window sill in the sun.  The seedlings are then planted out once the soil begins to warm up in spring in a hot and sunny spot in the garden.

In the reading that I have done so far one of the things that sings out loudly about Victorian Head Gardeners is how clever they were, if successful, at using and creating micro-climates within their gardens. If you have good soil and water in Melbourne it is easy to grow tomatoes. In colder British gardens large estates built walled gardens which allowed gardeners to take advantage of the reflected heat off the sun facing walls to grow crops such as tomatoes. It seems that really successful Head Gardeners needed to cultivate a strong connection to the seasons and the particular conditions and opportunities of their garden – I take my hat off to them!

The plants should be well watered with liquid manure to keep up a rapid growth. As soon as the blossom buds appear, watering should cease.  Stop shoots by nipping off the tops, and throw out all those sprays that show little signs of fruit, exposing the young fruit as much as possible to the sun and air, only watering to prevent check in case of very severe drought, of which the state of the plant will be the best index. Mrs Beeton’s Garden Management

When I first learnt about growing tomatoes from my Father nipping or pinching out the lateral tomato shoots was still the preferred practice.  It means that the tomato plant can grow neatly straight up a tall stake. The theory behind this practice was that you would get fewer but larger tomatoes than a bush that was allowed to sprawl unchecked. The Victorians were very interested in precision and efficiency and their estate gardens needed to be as beautiful and orderly as they were productive.  I can see that neat stakes of tomatoes would appeal to their aesthetic tastes. Interestingly research by the Digger’s Club shows that un-pruned tomato plants produce more (and a greater weight) of tomatoes than their pinched out cousins.

Tigerella and Cherry Bite Tomatoes

So did Australians grow tomatoes during the Victorian Era and what other vegetables were grown in colonial Melbourne gardens? In order to answer this question I visited the library of the National Herbarium of Victoria which has a small collection of seed catalogues from the mid 1800s. I have a thing for seed catalogues I love reading them so this was a great treat.

The selection of vegetable seeds available in each catalogue was surprising small and didn’t list varieties.  There were artichoke, cabbage, carrot, turnip, onion and other basics but no tomatoes! In a present day Australian seed catalogue produced by Eden Seeds there are 162 varieties of tomato listed from Black Russians, Green Zebras to the delicious Tigerallas.

I’m finding it difficult to believe that this meagre list of seeds represents the only vegetables that were grown in the mid-1800s. It could be that settlers were still purchasing seeds from England. If they were free settlers rather than convicts it is very likely that they brought their favorite varieties with them on the voyage to Australia. I’m reading a really interesting book called Green Pens by Katie Holmes, Susan Martin and Kylie Mirmohamdi.  In this book a reproduction of a letter from a land agent Henry Widowson in 1829 to prospective settlers of Tasmania encourages them to bring seeds “I should recommend every one to purchase a quantity of the best kinds of seed previous to leaving England.”

I’m still dipping in and out of Green Pens but it seems clear from the letters reproduced that settlers were sending seeds back home as they found native plants that they liked and requesting seeds in return from home. Plants, cuttings, seedlings and seed were also swapped between settlers as a means of making friends or establishing status. It isn’t difficult to imagine that creating a garden as a way of establishing a sense of home and belonging let alone growing food would have been a priority for settlers.  Interestingly gardening seems to have become the province of women very early on in Australian settlement. It isn’t until the late Victorian / Edwardian era that gardening is exhorted as a suitable occupation for women in Britain.

While the seed catalogues in the Herbarium have very few vegetable seeds they are full to overflowing with fruit trees, roses, azaleas, fuchsias, geraniums and pelargoniums. Roses don’t seem to have ever gone out of fashion here in Melbourne; they are just as popular today as they were in the Victorian era.

Ballam Park Homestead 1855 - The view from the rose garden

Roses and Chocolate

On the weekend I visited Ballam Park Homestead a local property maintained for public display by a volunteer historical society. Ballam Park was built in 1855 and where I live now in suburban Melbourne was once a field in this 8000 acre estate.

The great thing about Ballam Park is that much of the 1855 ornamental garden, gravel paths and orchard are still intact. I took this photo standing in the recreated rose garden.  To the left of the house is an Oak tree which would be one of the oldest oaks in Melbourne to the right is a Carob tree – the only Carob I’ve ever seen.  The pods of this plant were used by the family who built this house to create a chocolate substitute – good to see they had their priorities straight – get settled grow chocolate!

The orchard follows the main road way to the house and was planted with apples, fig and olives.  There isn’t any trace of a kitchen garden and the guide book to the house doesn’t talk about a location for a kitchen garden. Apparently the President of the society is a font of knowledge and I have been invited to call in again to talk to her at the tea-rooms now run next to the homestead. It maybe that the archive has records of the kitchen garden. So I will report back on our meeting.

Ripe Carob Pods - still fruiting 165 years on!

Again not possible to take photos in the house.  One of the interesting things about the house is that the dairy is attached directly to the kitchen with a stable door for bringing the cows into be milked. It looks a lot like a cow garage.

Ballam Park was in the middle of nowhere when it was first built and was accessed by boat across the bay from Melbourne and then a long walk along the beach, through swamp and then scrub.  The house has a small lantern room at the front of the top storey of the house. It is believed that a whale oil lamp was hung in this top window, which faces the bay.  This was to provide a guiding light at night to people trying to find the homestead. This seems a risky strategy during the days of bushrangers.

I still haven’t tracked down a copy of the Colonial Gardener but I have found that their is a copy on fiche at the Victorian State Library.  Once we get some cool weather I will make time to visit the VSL and to sit and read it in the great Victorian domed reading room – sounds like fun.

A Button-hole for Valentine’s Day

I think the Victorian’s would approve of this button-hole with a dusky red rose for love on Valentine’s Day. This variety of rose is called Tradescant and is named for one of the most famous Head Gardeners of all time John Tradescant the Elder born in 1570. Not a Victorian obviously but his work was tremendously admired by Victorian Head Gardeners so it seems an appropriate choice. The rest of the button-hole is purple Plectranthus flowers called Mona-lisa (because the Mistress is a big fan of purple), Yellow Lomandra flowers a sweet scented Australian native plant and a Rose Geranium leaf. This button-hole has a very fragrant rose perfume. Happy Valentine’s Day for this coming 14th February 2010!

Happy Valentine's Day

84 Responses to “Love Apples for Valentine’s Day”

  • Lovely garden. I live in the mildde of deer country but still havenever had problem with the deer. What I have problems with is raccoons. Any hints you have at keeping the masked bandits out of the garden would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much. You make wonderfully informative videos.

  • I like the helpful info you provide for your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and test once more here
    regularly. I’m somewhat certain I will be informed many new stuff
    proper right here! Best of luck for the next!

  • Hi everyone, it’s my first pay a visit at this site, and article is in fact fruitful in favor of me,
    keep up posting these types of articles or reviews.

  • They’re not doing it themselves, they’re going to the Russians to do the same thing.
    If you think you’ve forgotten some of the rules, it would not hurt to
    take a glance of the rules and instructions. Look inside
    the records for more information before placing your soccer bets.

  • Some people’s retirement fantasizes are composed of nothing greater than cozy weather condition, a cerveza on a beach, and a stable stream of ideal sellers to check out. For others, shocking as it might be, staying in the labor force on a part-time basis is an important element of their retired life joy.

  • Just desire to say your article is as surprising. The clearness on your publish is just nice and that i can think you are an expert on this subject.

    Well together with your permission let me to grab your feed to
    keep updated with drawing close post. Thanks 1,000,000 and please carry on the gratifying work.

  • Some individuals’s retired life fantasizes consist of nothing a bit more than warm weather condition, a cerveza on a coastline, and also a steady stream of best vendors to read. But also for others, unexpected as it might be, remaining in the labor force on a part-time basis is a vital part of their retired life happiness.

  • Nowadays, the conditions for your website to be ranked high in the search engine
    results are based on the search engine optimization techniques that you
    decide to use. So what are you going to put in their search box is “website optimization tips”.
    Depending on how how much time you have you can do this about
    once per week. Further the sites whose ranking using the search engines is good will attract potential clients, which results to
    mores sales.

  • In this case, enhanced activity will accelerate your weight loss, and
    act as an good bonus.

    my homepage weight loss foods to eat

  • Sammenligner vi med Verisure, som ble testens vinner, viste de to
    testene en responstid på 18 og 20 minutter.

  • Merely register obtaining an net website for example
    , upload your photographs and wait for men and women to
    acquire them to receive your royalties.

  • Well, most don’t understand this, but Epic Games continues to be around for (drumroll, please) 20
    freaking years. It has excellent features as well as a superior
    gaming precision grade. Gamer best mouse for mac before 2015
    From the comfort of your respective chair and on the click
    of a mouse it is possible to find exciting man gifts to match males coming from all ages.

    Gamers happen to be vowing by the Side – Winder X8′s precise control that is offered with a more balanced scroll wheel.
    Ergonomic computer mice could be seen being designed differently from standard
    computer mice and still have taken various forms.

  • Sofa beds provide both seating along with a bed and they also are made to transform derived from one of to another using the minimum of fuss.
    Affordable sofa sets can be a quick and easy approach to tie
    an area together. When it comes to comfort,
    durability and breathable features, the cotton sleeper sofa alternative interest sofa mattress
    is often a contender.

    This material provides plenty of comfort towards
    the users and also the durability of the sofa can be
    strengthened using this material. That’s as it was very tight over the top along with
    the front of my sofa, which measures only 82 inches.

  • What i don’t understood is if truth be told how you’re now not actually much more well-liked than you may be right now.
    You’re very intelligent. You already know thus significantly in terms of this
    matter, produced me for my part imagine it from
    a lot of varied angles. Its like men and women aren’t interested except it’s one thing to accomplish with Girl gaga!
    Your personal stuffs great. At all times deal with
    it up!

  • Ι tһink that iѕ amоng
    tһе mοѕt νital info fօг me.
    Ꭺnd і am ǥlaɗ гeɑding ʏօuг aгtіϲlе.
    Βut ԝant tօ ѕtɑtemеnt оn ѕⲟme Ьaѕіϲ iѕѕᥙеѕ, Ꭲɦе ѡеbѕitᥱ taѕte іѕ ѡοndᥱгful, tɦе ɑгtіcⅼеs іs tгսⅼy exceⅼlеnt :
    Ɗ. Eхсеllеnt јⲟb, ϲһеers

  • Wonderful beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your website, how could i
    subscribe for a blog website? The account helped me
    a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of
    this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

  • Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification seemed to
    be on the web the simplest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think about
    worries that they plainly don’t know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out
    the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a
    signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  • An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto
    a co-worker who was conducting a little homework on this.
    And he actually bought me dinner due to the fact that
    I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….
    Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss
    this issue here on your site.

  • Wow, wonderful weblog layout! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for?
    you made blogging look easy. The whole look of your web site
    is fantastic, as smartly as the content!

  • It is not my first time to pay a visit this website, i am visiting this website dailly and obtain nice facts from
    here every day.

  • Yay google is my king helped me to find this great website!

  • This page truly has all of the information and
    facts I wanted about this subject and didn?t know who to ask.

  • When I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I recieve four
    emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you can remove me
    from that service? Kudos!

  • 20代という若い時代から体臭で悩んでいる人もいますが、それは加齢臭とは程遠い臭いです。各人で違いますが、加齢臭は40代以上の男女どちらにも起こりうるものだと指摘されています。

  • This piece of writing will assist the internet
    users for building up new web site or even a weblog from start to end.

  • こんばんは。

  • As the admin of this site is working, no hesitation very quickly it will be renowned,
    due to its quality contents.

  • Hello, I wish foor to subscreibe ffor this weblog to get most recent updates, so where can i do it please

  • I’m not sure exactly why but this website is loading incredibly slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this problem or is it a issue on my end?
    I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

  • 77 Taylor Lewan Jersey – Shop for 93
    Erik Walden Jersey best factory with the cheap jerseys baseball authentic
    cheap price and fast free shipping from china.

  • Very soon this site will be famous amid all blogging people,
    due to it’s pleasant articles

  • Hello myy loved one! I wish to say that this post iis amazing,
    great written and include almost all important infos. I’d like to see extra posts like this .

    My website smartphone

  • discount majestic jerseys | Us Jerseys Usa site is the best site to buy baseball jerseys usa!
    A complete selection of American football jerseys, Cheap Authentic hockey Jersey and baseball.

Leave a Reply