The Orchard of Senex Caecilius

Like many small-scale farms, mine relies on a mixture of animals and crops. Since land use is dictated by the topography, soil, and rainfall, the main crops suitable to this region are cereals like barley and wheat.

The orchard shown on the left contains several of each of the following trees: peach, pear, plum, apple, and cherry.

The hilltop forest provides walnuts, hazlenuts, and chestnuts. What is not consumed by the family provides forage for the pigs. The farm also has a small vineyard, a vegetable and herb garden, and a grove of olive trees, so it is quite self-sufficient.

Here are a few facts about agricultural practices in Roman times.

  • Drainage and irrigation were used in some areas to bring marginal land into production or to grow specific crops like rice.
  • The residue from wine making and olive pressing was used along with ordinary animal manure to fertilize the fields.
  • To maintain fertility, crops were rotated, and fields were left fallow. They were also treated with lime and marl to combat acid soils.
  • Fields were bounded by ditches, fences, hedges, and drystone walls. Their upkeep was an important duty of owners and tenants.

    Some of the preceding information comes from Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome, written by Lesley Adkins and Roy A. Adkins and published in1994 by The Oxford University Press (New York).

    Farm | Villa Rustica | Orchard | Byre | Horreum | Pond | Meadow | Garden