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Traditional cottages were originally built to house rural farm communities and workers. Such communities were historically very hard working and poor.
This meant cottage gardens were a very important source of both recreation and food production. This led them to combine both food crops and decorative forms of planting.
However, on the whole, cottage gardens were often more practical than recreational. Cottage gardens were reserved for the growing of fruits, vegetables and herbs.
This is why, even today, many cottage gardens have a specific area allocated to grow vegetables. Here I will list and explain the 10 best vegetables for growing in traditional English cottage gardens.
Beetroot is a traditional favourite of the vegetable patch and would have been grown in cottage gardens.
This useful vegetable not only has an edible root its foliage can also be consumed. Beetroot can store in the ground over winter or can be stored by pickling or canning.
Their green and red foliage and thick, red, stems mean they are also very attractive to look at.
2. Kale can be an easy alternative to growing conventional cabbage and is easier to crop gradually throughout the season.
This would have made it a favourite vegetable for cottage gardeners of the past. Not only is kale easy to grow and very hardy it actually looks quite attractive.
For this reason kale can even be integrated into cottage garden borders to hide it from pests.
3. Runner beans
Runner beans are a favourite vegetable for traditional, English, gardeners. These vigorous vines rapidly cover structures during the summer and produce a substantial crop.
In the cottage garden these beans can be grown over pergolas, arches and up trellises. There gorgeous red flowers make them an ornamental plant as well as a food crop.
Any kitchen or cottage gardener aims to keep an emphasis on growing for self sufficiency. Perennial vegetables such as Rhubarb come up every year with no extra hard work!
These robust vegetables can produce during early spring when the weather is still cold. This makes them a perfect, early season, crop when not much else is producing.
Their huge leaves and striking seed spikes also make them extremely ornamental.
There is probably nobody alive who is not astonished by this remarkable vegetable. Originally from South America, Squashes love rich soil and warm conditions.
In return they produce the most fantastic crops such as butternut squash and pumpkins. These fruits can look amazing hanging over cottage garden structures or fences.
Squash can store for most of the winter providing a full larder for the self sufficient cottage kitchen.
Chard has got to be one of the most underrated vegetables in existence! Closely related to beetroot this vegetable has crunchy stems and spinach like leaves.
Chard is famous for its thick stems which are beautiful as well as they are delicious!
For extra ornamental value grow rainbow chard which has a striking variety of varying coloured stems and foliage.
Carrots have always been a favourite vegetable for traditional, English, cottage growers. These glorious root vegetables have a long growing season and store well all winter.
Carrots can be lifted as needed and are much sweeter fresh out of the ground.
Leeks are well known for their versatility and excellent flavour in hot pots and stews. These very hardy vegetables can be left in the ground all winter to be harvested at will.
This would have made them a staple in the traditional, cottage, vegetable garden. Leaks are easy to grow and if sowed in succession can be harvested for much of the year.
Potatoes have always been grown in cottage gardens for the simple reason they are a stable. These fantastic tubers are one of the most accessible sources of unprocessed carbohydrate.
This would have been a primary crop for the rural peasantry and cottage garden vegetable plots. Potatoes can be lifted and stored in trays of dry sand for the lean winter months.
Parsnips like potatoes would have also provided that vital supply of carbohydrate for rural communities.
Parsnips however, unlike potatoes, are very hardy and can stay in the ground during the winter. This makes them the perfect cottage garden vegetable for those seeking a more self sufficient life.
Parsnips are also one of those much loved root vegetables eaten with Christmas dinner.
Thank you for reading our article on the top ten cottage garden vegetables. If you require help building a cottage garden or kitchen garden do not hesitate to contact us.
Below I will include some other articles you may find useful.
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Hyde Heath, Amersham, Buckinghamshire