The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 2: Roman Gardens (500BC-500AD)

Roman Kitchen Gardening

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III. Roman Gardening, in respect to its Products for the Kitchen and the Dessert 67. The term Hortus, in the laws of the Decemviri, which are supposed to be as old as the establishment of the Romans as a people, is used to signify both a garden and a country house; but afterwards the kitchen-garden was distinguished by the appellation Hortus pinguis. Cato informs us that the principal citizens had their Horti, or gardenfarms, in which their vegetables were grown, near the city. In the first ages these farms were cultivated by the owners by their own hands; and the success of some with particular plants, gave rise to family names, such as Piso (from the pea), Cicero (from the vetch), Fabius (from the bean), Lentulus (from the lentil), &c. What was not used by the owner was sold in the Fora Olitorum, or vegetable markets. Pliny informs us that a husbandman called a kitchen-garden a second dessert, or a flitch of bacon, which was always ready to be cut, or a salad, easy to be cooked and light of digestion; and judged there must be a bad housewife (the garden being her charge) in that house, where the garden was in bad order.