The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Vegetable gardening in France

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265. The culinary vegetables of France do not appear to have been increased from the earliest period of horticultural history, with the exception of the sea-kale and the potato. In consequence of the greater warmth of the summer, the French horticulturists can produce crops in the open air, which in Britain require the assistance of glass; but the greater severity of winter in France renders the open air vegetables scarcer at that season than they are in England. Melons are grown in the open air under handglasses, as cucumbers are in Britain, as far north as Honfleur on the Seine. Grapes are brought to great perfection in the open air at Fontainebleau, by a particular mode of planting, and training against low mud walls, which we shall describe hereafter. The sweet potato, Convolvulus Batatas, is cultivated in several gardens in the neighbourhood of Paris, and the tubers are sold in the market and in the fruit shops. It is also cultivated in the south of France, where the shoots and leaves are reckoned excellent forage for cows and horses, and are also used as greens and spinach. In salading and legumes the French far excel most countries; but in the cabbage tribe, turnips, and potatoes they are inferior to the moister climates of Holland and Britain.