Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Different Kind of Guest Garden

Single Brothers Garden - Winston-Salem, North Carolina

We made a quick trip to Winston-Salem this weekend to test out a car for possible purchase.  I had hoped to spend a good bit of time touring the gardens there, but the weather interfered.  Fortunately, I did get a few minutes between rain drops in the Single Brothers Garden.
Do you recognize this vegetable?

When I go looking for gardens to tour, I tend to think more BBG or Longwood and not so much about kitchen gardens, but Old Salem got my attention in a new way.  Had I been thinking, I would have realized that settlers in the 1780's had more pressing needs than flowers on the table - altho i suspect a few did appear.

They needed to provide food for the village and these were all kitchen gardens - tucked up in the back yards of many houses.  But nothing to compete with scale of the Single Brothers garden.

The entire space was the equivalent of a large city block, divided into six "plots" that i paced off as something close to 50 feet by 50 feet each.  There is 25-50 feet separating the individual plots, all in beautifully maintained grass.  Somewhere i read that they are now rented out to Salem residents.
 At the moment the individual plots are in all stages of planting.  One was completely plowed and ready to start over for the spring.

Others were partially turned over and partially filled with the remaining fall and winter veggies.  Several were top-dressed in  loads of beautiful, black compost and many were mounded almost like raised beds.  The individual "rows" were about three feet wide and 25 feet long - not your typical kitchen garden.
Cabbage in the left, onions on the right, and - wait for it - sunchokes in the center.
Yep!  It's horseradish!  What a beautiful plant.

But my very favorite were two squares with impressive beds of horseradish.  These reminded me of my dad.  He used to raise very small crops (two plants) and share his special recipe with us.  I think it was grated/ground horseradish with salt and vinegar.  Delicious, but tear-inducing to make.  He burned out several blenders before he happened upon an old fashioned meat grinder that did an excellent job!

Even as my kitchen garden grows, it in no way resembles this one!  How about yours?


  1. I love kitchen gardens and these look spectacular! Am I understanding this correctly: these are community gardens?

  2. It seems that way. If only we had had time for the tour! It seems that they rent them out, BUT the renters have to follow the "old ways" so that it remains typical of the late 1700's and early 1800's. It was really neat!

    1. Did they have hoses in those days? Or would you have to water with a can? :-). I would be able to live with no insecticides or weedkiller in the garden (not in the landscape without the latter though), and I think those are requirements in other community gardens too.

  3. Hi Webb,
    That is a really wonderful requirement, that gardeners there must follow the old ways. I love that! So -- no chemicals? My veggie gardening is limited to pots & planters on a small townhouse deck in almost full sun so Im looking forward to lots of kale and hopefully, some tomatoes from heirloom seed.
    You're getting quite close to Retirement Day, aren't you? :-)
    Diane in Denver