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, March 12, 2012

Tilling the Soil

On Thursday I began to till the raised beds in the garden in preparation for planting, which will begin in the next few weeks. I received another load of manure from one of our wonderful volunteers, Audrey Scanlan-Teller, who owns two horses. After spreading this second delivery, it was time to start working it into the dirt. My grandfather, Clifton Carwile, was nice enough to come up for the day and help me with the work.

It was a beautiful day, making the work outside all the more pleasant. We did the whole job by hand using shovels and turning forks. We turned over 8 1/2 beds, and the front section of the garden is ready for planting when the time is right. I will wait until April to till the back sections along the fence. It feels good to see an observable difference in the garden!

I also took some time to remove straw from around some of the perennial plants and pull out some weeds that are already starting to grow in the garden. Everything seems to have survived our unusally warm winter just fine.


Unfortunately my indoor seedlings are not all faring quite so well. I have to confess that many of my first round of seedlings have died. However, my more recent planting are doing much better and are beginning to show their first true leaves. These later seedlings are growing in traditional potting soil instead of the coconut husk mixture used in the original seed-starting kit. They have also been exposed to better light from the beginning. I believe that these two factors may be the difference. I transplanted what remained of the first group of seedlings into a mixture of potting soil and dirt from outside, but it remains to be seen whether this will save them or prove too much of a shock. Hopefully pictures of happy, healthy plants are to follow.

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