A Statement of Purpose

Since 2012 I have been responsible for
the garden at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum on Antietam National Battlefield. The Pry House garden began as a 19th century style medicinal and kitchen garden, including medicinal plants, herbs, and vegetables. As close as possible, these plants mirrored those available to the Pry Family in the 1860s, meaning heirloom varieties. Since then, the garden has transformed to focus exclusively on medicinal plants, becoming an exhibit of the flora that was employed by military and civilian caregivers in the Civil War Era.

I am strictly an amateur, with no real experience in growing a garden. The purpose of this blog is to document my experiences as I learn by doing. It is anything but authoritative and I welcome any comments and advice for a greenhorn. Please be kind!

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Cure for Your Cough

It’s been over a week since sowing and my seedlings have been coming along, some more quickly than others. Each variety has poked through the surface, with the lobelia, or cardinal flower, making its first appearance yesterday.

Unfortunately, my cabbage sprouts are getting very leggy. Many of them are flopping over. Perhaps I did not sow them deep enough; perhaps they are growing too fast in the warmth; perhaps they are not getting the kind of light they need to be. It is still too cold outside to give them any time in the direct sunlight.

To help improve the light situation, I have found an unused table lamp and screwed in a compact florescent bulb. I have removed the shade and turned the lamp on its side to give the seedlings close exposure to the florescent light. Hopefully this will improve things.

I have been fighting a nasty cold this weekend, and it makes me wish that some of these medicinal herb seedlings were further along. While the efficacy of much of 1800s pharmacology is dubious at best, certain plants are still held to have a very legitimate medical value.

For example, horehound is traditionally used in treatment for sore throats. White horehound is a small flowering perennial plant native to the Mediterranean, but has become ubiquitous all over the world. It is still a common ingredients in natural throat lozenges.

                                        White Horehound                         My Horehound Seedlings

Echinacea, or purple coneflower, and yarrow are believed to boost the immune system. Echinacea is a perennial wildflower native to the Eastern United States and was traditionally used as a medicine by Native Americans. Yarrow is another perennial flowering plant, native to the Western United States and Europe. Both are commonly used as supplements or ingredients in natural cold remedies.

                                    Echinacea Purpurea                           My Echinacea Seedlings
                                              Yarrow                                    My Yarrow Seedlings

Ricola Cough Drops contain several other herbs popular in the Victorian pharmacopoeia, including sage and peppermint, which are already growing in the Pry Garden.

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