Items appropriate for the kitchen garden found in Leonhart Fuchs’ 16th c. herbal:
In 1543, Leonhart Fuchs published his Neu Kreuterbuch (New Herbal) to record, to the best of his ability, an extensive, illustrated list of the plants available to the German physician in the middle of the 16th century. The informational emphasis is, therefore, directed primarily towards the medicinal use of these plants. For this list, I have worked from the facsimile copy produced by Taschen (http://www.amazon.com/Leonhart-Fuchs-Herbal-1543-Klotz/dp/3822812986). This is a very fine reproduction of Fuchs’ working copy, and the illustrations are generally so good that one can identify the plants by the pictures. If you can read German, this book will be even more useful. Fortunately, for those of us who do not, there are several useful appendices that provide the common English and Latin names for the plants.
The following list is from those appendices. These are plants that I know to be edible, and are a mix of fruits, vegetables, grains, and flavoring herbs. The only exception to those general categories is the inclusion of aloe; as something we modernly use for burns, it seems a good thing to keep in a kitchen garden.
Further, I left out some of the “weed” edibles (for instance, chickweed or cat tails). There are a number of additional plants in Fuchs that could be included if I were to chose to list all things currently considered “weeds” that are known to modern foragers as edibles. I left them out not because I was uncertain of their edibility, but because I believe that while many a person will go out and gather some of the best recognized edible weeds (Plantain, purslane, dandelion), most will stick to what they can easily gather in their own yard and eat with very little effort.
There are some exceptions, here, too. I have included hemp even though it is COMPLETELY ILLEGAL to grow in the United States. I’m not suggesting any American grow it. However, a number of Canadian manufacturers have managed to create a number of hemp-seed food products which are actually very good for you and usually available in your local health food store. It might be worth experimenting with hemp milk or hemp meal for those with gluten or dairy limitations, and Fuchs provides evidence that it is a plant that was useful in the 16th c.
Also, I have included Broad Leaf Dock, an edible weed that is often ignored by foragers because of its very bitter taste. However, I grow it as a perennial green in my garden. Since the primary purpose of this list is to support and guide my plant choices in attempting to emulate a 16th C. garden, I need to remember where it was I got the idea that I should let the dock grow.
As with the list from Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta, it should be emphasized that those New World foods listed here were not available in the European diet before 1492. It should also be emphasized that some of these plants would have been grown as ornamentals or curiosities in many parts of Western Europe. As a general rule, by the end of the 16th c., you can be sure potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and maybe hot peppers were being eaten somewhere in Europe. I have not yet found any evidence that any European was eating maize before the end of the 16th c. I have included it in this list because it is something we eat in the 21st century, and if you wish to include it in your 16th C garden, it is at least appropriate as an ornamental. While the goal of this project is to create a microfarm featuring plants known in the 16th century, we are living in the 21st, and as someone who wants people to grow their own food, I would never dismiss corn simply because it wasn’t on the 16th C dinner table. I don’t have room for corn, but if you do, grow it, enjoy it, and serve it at your barbecue rather than at an SCA feast.
Without further ado, a selection of edible plants from Fuchs, 1543.
There is a low resolution copy of one of the Fuch’s herbal here: http://tobias-lib.uni-tuebingen.de/volltexte/2001/237/html/lo-res/tn/fuchs004.jpg.html