Tuesday, July 18, 2017

La Maison Rustique - The Potherbs - Cabbage (part 1)

From: L'agriculture et maison rustique, Charles Estienne (Rouen, 1658).

The Potherbs

(Chapter 11)


Cabbage (part 1)

We shall first speak of cabbages, which are more common and more abundant than all other kinds of potherbs. All types of cabbages love clean land, fat and well plowed, not clayish or sandy. Also, they grow easily in all kinds of air, chiefly tempered; Yet they grow largest, most spread out, and more guarantied of vermin in cold places such as Germany than in hot places. And for this they are content more with the hillsides than with the plains, and in earth full of sticks and branches. They are better, much more pleasant, and healthier for the stomach in autumn, spring, and during great frosts than in summer. They require frequent dunging especially with the manure of an ass which is the best of them all, and to be covered with good soil, without watering, although watering makes them beautiful and verdant, but not pleasant in eating or healthy for the stomach. When they have six leaves they must be transplanted in good weather, either in winter or summer. To speak of it in particular, the common cabbage that is called long or green, it must be sown in the middle of August or September for those who want to have the leaves in Lent and winter. They are planted in October and replanted in December to take the leaves in winter, and planted from seed in June and July to make them thicker. As to other seasons of the year, it can also be done but not so conveniently.

Take good care that your seed is not too old, for it would be mature at three years of age. As they say, sow that cabbage and it will bring radishes or turnips. It will last six years in kind if well kept.

The headed cabbage, called white or apple, are seeded in beds and are replanted from foot to foot, well covered under soft, well-worked soil when they begin to sprout. They like the cold and cannot live in hot air, and must be covered in straw to make them form heads and turn white. Wrinkled cabbage, curled, and Romaine, which are of a more tender and delicate nature, are sown in March and are planted in the course of the year. They often require watering.

When you see that the leaf of the cabbage is pale or yellowed, it is a sign that water is needed, and cut away the leaves that are yellow and pierced, rotten, or dry, for they would cause them to die.

If you want to have cabbages which are of good and pleasant taste, cut away the first leaves, for those that regrow will have a better taste and a flavor that is more pleasant that the first.

The red cabbages grow naturally from an abundance of manure, or because they have been watered with the lees of wine, or have been planted in a place where they are often warmed by the heat and ardor of the sun.

Never take the top of Romaine, wrinkly, or other cabbage for your use, but always take the leaves from the top down.

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