The kitchen garden was once a vital component of the country estate, supplying fruit, vegetables and flowers to meet the needs of the family and their household. A vast range of fruit and vegetables was grown, from everyday crops of potatoes and cabbages to the exotic delights of grapes, peaches and pineapples.
The table had to be supplied all year round, and gardeners were expert in forcing, ripening and storage of produce. All sorts of gadgets and technology were employed, from cucumber straighteners and pest fumigators to oil-fired boilers and rubber hosepipes. Horticultural techniques were developed for growing plants and fruit that are still used in our gardens today. This knowledge was passed on, as gardeners worked their way up from garden boy, employed to wash pots and scare birds, to undergardener, journeyman and then foreman, with the most ambitious reaching the prestigious position of head gardener. Working life in the kitchen garden was a seasonal routine of sowing, potting, watering and cropping.
This book is part of the Britain's Heritage series, which provides definitive introductions to the riches of Britain's past, and is the perfect way to get acquainted with the kitchen garden in all its variety.
Caroline Ikin is a writer and garden historian, specialising in the Victorian era, and is the author of The Victorian Garden and The Victorian Gardener (Shire). She has worked for the Gardens Trust and the National Trust and has studied History of Art and Garden History.