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The kitchen garden and cottager's manual

‘POP CORN… This popular American variety of maize has the peculiar power of turning itself inside out on being exposed to heat in a pan or roaster. When so prepared it is a nutritious article of food, but it is also prepared by candying with sugar, or baking with butter and spices with sugar.’1

William Clarson’s, The kitchen and cottager’s manual is a small but comprehensive and engaging instructional book, aptly named and incorporates peripheral advice such as bee keeping, and the care of cow and horse pasture. The title THE KITCHEN GARDEN is embossed in gold on the leather spine. The table of contents is listed alphabetically (not in sequence) therefore doubling as an index. Headings are specific fruit and vegetables, and more general terms such as manure, soils, household hints, and seeds for birds. There is also a twenty-page (monthly) calendar of operations.

Before the contents table, there is a dedication to the readers, a two page introduction written in the third person, and two full page advertisements. The first is for a ‘List of works’ for sale by A.H Messina & Co, the publisher of the book of which Clarson was a founding partner. The second advertisement is for Railton’s Seeds.

The kitchen garden and cottager's manual : a reliable guide to garden management, and to the culture of culinary crops for the table

Illustration by George Nicholson, The Illustrated Dictionary of Gardening, 1884, courtesy of Clipart ECT.

Under ‘Plants of economic use in the kitchen garden,’ Clarson identifies the New Zealand flax, in particular the yellow variety, as ‘a great convenience where much tying is required.' He states that it's useful to tie plants to stakes and vines in spring as well as binding cabbages, lettuces, radishes, celery, and other crops headed for market.

‘As illustrating their great usefulness, it may be mentioned that nearly all the vegetables which reach the London, Birmingham, and other great markets of England and the continent are made up in bundles by means of yellow twigs.’2

Phormium tenax ‘Yellow Wave’ enjoyed a surge of popularity in Victoria during the decade long drought of the early 2000’s. Unprecedented water restrictions called for only the hardiest of plants and Phormium tenax, or New Zealand flax, offered just that in a variety of colours and sizes.

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Other books by William Clarson include:

The Fruit Garden—Parts I. and II. A Practical guide to the planting and management of the chief fruit-yielding’s plants of temperate and tropical zones

The Flower Garden and Shrubbery—Second edition. With Directions as to the management of bush house, fernery, conservatory, lawn, and other ornamental and useful home surroundings

The kitchen garden and cottager's manual