Dales Plants and Gardens 1900-1960: growing food
And from the wild
Outside the garden mushrooms were gathered from meadows. Brambles were found along streams but not on the windswept fells; bilberries were painstakingly gathered from the moors. Gooseberries and raspberries grew as easily in the wild as in a garden but were larger and tastier for being pruned and manured. Apples and plums could be gathered as windfalls, either outside boundary walls or from seemingly deserted gardens. Only one interviewee remembers gathering hazelnuts.
Rose hips were picked by children for pocket-money during World War 2. In both World Wars, Herb Committees were organised to collect herbs from around the country. 'The war has profoundly affected the drug market. The industry having so largely lapsed of late years to Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Balkans, and these sources of supply being closed, prices are going up by leaps and bounds, so that very soon the use of the most important medicines will be possible only to the rich,’ claimed a leaflet from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries . Britain couldn’t produce enough herbs for medicines without the help of children and families gathering what was needed from the wild.
Wine was made from cowslips, elderflowers and elderberries, although few people drank it as there is a strong and strict Methodist tradition in the Dales.
Only one person that we’ve spoken to ate hedgerow plants such as nettles, ramsoms and docks. Nobody made either the herbal remedies or simples that are so popular today. A weekly dose of senna, molasses or liquorice bought from the chemist cleaned them out for the week. Children dug up pignuts (Conopodium majus) and experimented with hawthorn shoots in the spring, a tradition passed down from their parents. Scrumping apples filled their bellies better, but that could only be done in season.