Station: [21] Brassicas and Calabash

F 2: Brassicas are among the oldest of vegetable crops. These days, we cook with many different kinds of brassicas: white and red cabbage, kale, cauliflower, savoy cabbage and broccoli, kohlrabi and Chinese cabbage. In the Middle Ages, there weren’t nearly as many varieties. But even then, white and red cabbage in particular were an important part of the diet. They’re filling and contain fibre, calcium, potassium and iron as well as vitamins. Cabbage was even valued as a medicinal remedy. And even back then, the option of fermenting and preserving it for the winter as sauerkraut was recognised as a major advantage.

M 1: Here in the vegetable and kitchen herb garden, you can discover another little-known feature of many brassicas: if they’re not harvested, they flower and change their growth habit in the second year. That way, brassicas can even make the transition to ornamental plants.

F 2: Another ancient crop plant found here is the calabash. It is the only type of gourd that was cultivated in medieval times. And it’s amazingly versatile – of course, it’s edible, but thanks to its hard skin, it can also be used to make bowls, lamps and even musical instruments. These days, hobby growers still have the occasional plant in their greenhouses. Since it originated in Africa, it’s used to very warm conditions. A thousand years ago, growing such Mediterranean delicacies was easier, because the climate in our latitudes was quite mild at the time. People even grew grapes locally. And in the neighbouring village of Klietznick, there is a vineyard again today.

Foto: © Stiftung Kloster Jerichow