Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


1. I remember Nan used to make barley water by boiling pearl barley in a pan for several hours, topping up the water when necessary. This was flavoured with lemon and sugar and used for cystitis. It was taken both hot and cold.
Barley was also used for thickening soups and stews. Barley thickened broth was given to invalids or anyone with a cold or flu [Childwall, Liverpool, April 2013].

2. Barley wine is good for kidney trouble [Portland, Dorset, April 1991].

3. ‘When the blackthorn is white, sow barley both day and night.’ This came either from south Wiltshire or from mid Hants. I learnt it working on a farm in 1942-44 [Salisbury. Wiltshire, February 1989].

Image: Flanders Field Community Garden, East Ham, London Borough of Newham; September 2014.