Spring as sprung! The crocuses are out and buds are beginning to show on the tree branches. Village programming in April tends to feature a lot of early season gardening work, including preparing the gardens for planting and harvesting a few items such as salsify and parsnips. As a subscriber to our eNews, we wanted to give you a special behind the scenes look during this time that the museum is temporarily closed.

While most of our staff are currently working remotely, there area few dedicated staff members on-site doing vital tasks like caring for our animals, keeping our historic buildings safe and secure, and tending plants in the gardens and in the greenhouse.

Laura, our Greenhouse Manager, has been tending to the plants in the greenhouse everyday - and the greenhouse is filling up with plants! These plants are for the historic gardens in the Village, the Heirloom Plant Sale in May, and the decorative beds near the Visitor Center and Oliver Wight Tavern. Seeds are first sown into seed packs and go onto germination trays that give off gentle heat. Once seedlings emerge, they are placed under grow lights. When the leaves begin to emerge, the plants are transplanted.

Below, see some recent photos that she took of the plants in the Greenhouse.
Plants under the grow lights
Above:These plants under the grow lights are germinating; Soon, they'll be ready for their first transplant
Above:Another view of plants under the grow lights
Transplanting Basil
Above: Ruth, our Coordinator of Horticulture, transplanting basil; We are growing 6 varieties of basil for the Heirloom Plant Sale: Cinnamon, Lemon, Lettuce Leaf, Anise, Bush, and Dark Opal - plus a few other varieties for use in the Village!
Above: Another view of the greenhouse
Ask a Gardening Expert:
What is a Garden Frame?
“Those persons who are fond of good gardens will find it very much to their advantage to rear their young plants in a hot bed.”
( New England Farmer , 1831)
A garden frame is a sloped box with glass cover. Both cold frames and hot beds extend the growing season and can be used in the spring and fall. Garden frames were not a new tool in the early 19th century. In fact, they had been employed in English gardens long before!

The cold frame is the frame used on garden soil without any supplemental bottom heat. It will protect cold-tolerant crops from excessively low temperatures by just trapping the sun's warmth and protecting from extreme cold. It could be used in spring to get an early start with crops like hardy ornamentals, cabbage, and lettuce, or in fall to extend the season for crops such as spinach and other greens.  

The hot bed's traditional supplemental bottom heat was provided by fresh horse manure. This could be in a flat topped heap, covered with a layer of rich soil and with the frame perched on top, or by filling a hole with the manure topped with soil and setting the frame over that. The hot bed is generally used for growing crops that are more cold-sensitive, such as tender ornamentals, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Typical use is in spring to raise and protect seedlings until outside growing conditions are safe for transplanting them into the garden. The gardener should monitor the hot bed to determine when the soil temperature has cooled from its initial high manure temperatures to a safe c. 65 °F for planting. Further monitoring is needed as crops grow to prevent overheating on sunny days, and to condition crops for transplant.
Two interpreters look into a hot frame in the Parsonage Garden
Spring Harvesting: Salsify and Parsnips
When one thinks of spring, they tend to think of planting - not harvesting!  Early 19th-century New Englanders left certain root vegetables in the ground all winter and harvested them in the spring when the ground thawed. These vegetables include salsify and parsnips.

Salsify, also known as "Vegetable Oyster," is native to the Mediterranean region. We grow it in the Parsonage Garden at the Village. Early New Englanders grew it for its unique flavor and white root.

Parsnips are closely related to carrots and parsley. They are an excellent spring food, bringing a sweet and different flavor to the table at a time when other vegetable stores are either running low or have been the same for the winter months. Their large roots are very high yielding, making them an ideal choice for 1830s spring diet.
Fun Floral Collaborations in the Museum World
During these uncertain times, museums across the country and the world are connecting with each other in fun and creative ways! Last week, museums across the globe "sent" each other bouquets of flowers through #MuseumBouquet on Twitter. Art museums, history museums, botanical gardens, and more were able to participate in spreading the joy. After all - a lot of different types of museums have flowers or floral items in their collections! As a living history museum, Old Sturbridge Village was uniquely positioned to share both a picture of actual flowers (from one of our gardens) and a floral item from the Collection. We love seeing the creativity of other museum workers during this time. Check out all the beautiful floral images being shared by museums near and far here .
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