49bef9cfc989acf6a48a3670e7b1f02dNo garden is complete- in my view- without some plants you can eat. Even if it’s only the leaves of herbs or flower petals to garnish a ‘happy salad’, growing our own food has to be a part of the essence of gardening. So today’s object is a traditional garden trug, used to gather in the fruits (and veg) of your labours.

The traditional trug has an interesting history:

‘Way back in the heydays of the 1820’s, just before Queen Victoria ascended to the English Throne, a Man of Sussex, one Thomas Smith of Herstmonceux, made a decision about his life that was to have a profound effect on Sussex and the World.   He invented the Sussex Trug!   Taking an ancient idea dating back to Anglo Saxon times, Thomas redesigned the historic “trog” and in so doing he created a part of the English gardening scene that is now World famous!   

 The “trog” was a wooden vessel hewn from solid timber in the shape of the round coracle boat that the Anglo Saxons used for their daily business.   Because of the way these “trogs” were made they were very heavy.   They were used by Sussex farmers to measure grain and liquids and were made in several sizes for different measures.   They continued in use in this form until the mid-1600’s and we have been able to uncover an inventory from a farm in Newhaven, East Sussex at about that time where there were recorded “a dozen of trogs in the milking parlour”. 

 Thomas Smith re-invented the “trog” carefully designing a lightweight basket using Sweet Chestnut (Castanea Sativa) and Cricket Bat Willow (Salix Coerulea)….’

Thomas Smith- The Royal Sussex Trug

The traditional Sussex Trug

The traditional Sussex Trug

Thanks to a thoughtful birthday present from my wife, I now have two of these lovely baskets at Old School Garden. It is a joy taking them out into the garden, from early summer, to harvest  fresh produce and then use it as quickly as possible in the day’s main meal. Celebrity gardener Bob Flowerdew underlines the importance of getting your pickings as quickly as you can from plot to saucepan to maximise the sweetness; as soon as it’s picked a sweetcorn’s, or whatever’s natural sugars start to convert to starch.

I guess the trug is a good token for all the other containers we use in the garden (including the modern day plastic trug); whether it be to carry flowers, tools, weeds, compost and so on.

But most importantly, it is the symbol of all that’s good in ‘growing your own’ and the freshness and flavour that comes from this small contribution to world food production.

Further information:

History of the Sussex Trug

 Old School Gardener

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