Grow / nature / Storytelling

Folklore Thursday: Growing Stories

20160929_082341-1-1I created this site because I wanted to share my love of gardening. Growing my own food has brought me a lot of joy, and saved lots of money. As I learned more about gardening, it seemed only natural – and fair – to share what I learned. My early gardening lessons came from family, friends, even strangers at garden centres. I see gardening knowledge as communal knowledge, with lessons learned over time and passed down through history.

I guess this is why gardening is innately connected to storytelling for me. So much folklore relates to growing and harvesting. Once upon a time, these stories helped us know what to eat, and how to increase the chances of a bountiful harvest.

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When we were responsible for producing our own food, these stories could stop us from going hungry.

Now, sharing gardening tips bonds us through the ages: barriers between individuals can disappear when one person knows how to create a glut of fruit and veg with ease (or fend off slugs). Shakespeare said that, ‘one touch of nature makes the whole world kin’, and I’ve certainly made a lot of connections through gardening.

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Wives’ Tales or Wisdom?

It’s not just directly shared stories that can be useful. Many of the so-called, ‘old wives’ tales’ contain wisdom (one person’s ‘old wife’ is another’s wise crone…) That’s not to say that they should all be taken as gospel: it’s worth being sceptical about everything. However, the more I’ve researched country remedies and traditions, the more pleasantly surprised I’ve been by the scientific evidence behind a lot of lore.

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People may laugh off the idea of the devil spitting on blackberries, rendering them inedible – but as October progresses, so does the chance that blackberries will be maggotty.

Seasonal tonics may have gone out of fashion but rosehip syrup and the purple fruits of autumn are loaded with vitamins ideally suited to warding off winter ailments. And an apple a day really could keep the doctor away, as eating apples has been found to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Whether it’s burying horse hair to ensure a fertile crop (it rots down to produce plant-feeding nitrates),or using beer traps to get rid of slugs (I’ve not seen the science but I have seen the dead slugs), by learning other people’s stories, you may well make your garden grow – and ensure you eat food at the optimum time. Just do your research to ensure any advice isn’t dangerous (and in my experience, broken egg shells do nothing to deter slugs, so I don’t recommend wasting time researching that particular myth.) Sharing garden lore can help us all grow.

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