This entry represents the knowledge of the seasons, the soil, the land, and its rhythms, the ways of growing things, the life’s work of the landbound classes and most religious houses and freemen. As the name implies, this Trade encompasses both wide (5+) acreage farm crops and small plot (usually 1 acre or less) gardening, between which the player must choose. Wide acreage crops can vary from peas, beans, and vetches, to the grains, wheat, barley, oats, rye, to herbage for fodder, various grasses for hay, clover, sorghum, gorse, and sedges, and the like. Most often this is limited by what the soil isst support, and judging the quality of the soil and determining what crops is best supported by it is a part of the knowledge represented by this Trade. In small-plot gardening, the player must choose between vegetables and herbs or decorative/fragrant flowers and herbs. These won’t necessarily be restricted to soft, green-stemmed plants, but may include woody plants and even decorative flowering shrubbery.
In most commoners’ families, the man of the house will farm wide acreage crops and the woman of the house will garden, raising vegetables and useful herbs for the household. At the player’s option, the character can take a specialty in fruit bearing trees, bushes, or vines in general. This will include the knowledge necessary for taking cuttings and forcing root growth or grafting shoots, using smudge pots in the fields to fight unseasonably or unusually cold weather. To protect green, low-growing plants like strawberries, it will cover the technique of wetting the plants down against temperatures in the freezing range (down to c. 20° past that at which the plants themselves start to freeze) to cover them in a thin sheathe of ice as a temporary preservative, quickly chilling them and slowing their metabolisms. For the purposes of this skill, the care of the highly temperamental and lucrative grapevines in particular is considered a specialty if its own.
This Trade enables the character to judge when the most propitious times for the various tasks of the growing season are at hand, when to begin the plowing or preparing the planting beds (if he is also a Husbandman, he may act as a ploughman), when the sowing should be done, the harrowing, transplanting of potted shoots begun indoors, the hoeing, and at the height of the season the mowing, the reaping, tedding and cocking, when to bring in the last harvest of bearing plants, storage methods, which can be stored green to ripen on their own, threshing methods. The character is able to judge whether his farm and resources are better suited to horse-ploughing and maintenance or oxen, and whether his climate and drainage situation are better suited to two-field or three-field crop rotation. Using three-field crop rotation in a Mediterranean clime will release the moisture hoarded in the soil into the arid summer, resulting in nothing but a dust bowl within a year or two.
Through the knowledge it also provides of fertilization techniques (sheep folding, marling for stiff soils, phosphates from slag heaps, planting fish heads under roses, etc.) and knowing what plants and herbs to plant alongside crops or other plants to keep pests and destructive parasitic or predatory bugs away so the Farmer or Gardener can increase his yields, multiply the yield per acre or per tree (as applicable) by 1 + (0.05 per SL’s). This will work to decrease penalties due to poor conditions (drought, flood, insects). These penalties will work against the character’s multiplier, not the yield, in severe cases where the character’s multiplier is eliminated, any remaining penalty is levied against the normal yield of the fields (trees, bushes, vines, etc).
For those players who really want to get into it, this secondary encompasses the skills needed for cultivating and forcing hybrids, selecting, cross-pollinating, and breeding compatible plants in their various varieties to strengthen various special traits, and how to crop and prune the plants to obtain the largest, most fragrant flowers and fruit and the heaviest crop. As far as the last point, the character is able to increase the individual plant yield further, by the same amount again already noted for fertilization and cultivation, but these programs must be carried out on an individual breeding and care program until a viable strain is developed, because they tend to produce sterile strains that, in the case of grains, cannot be used for seed again .. This way, individual fruit sizes can be increased so the effective yield is multiplied by 1 + (0.05 per 2 SL’s) in equivalent yield of average fruit, to a maximum of 4, or 400%.
This Trade will also enable the character to develop a Weather Sense equal to that described in the Huntsman’s Trade.
In addition, it will provide the character with knowledge of all the applicable tools of the trade and how they are most efficiently used, as well as their proper care and storage (pumice stone to scrub away rust and encrustations, oil as a preservative, and canvas wrap).
At the player’s option, the Farmer/Gardener may take an SL0 Weapon skill with the tools he uses in pursuit of this skill as a sub-skill. This allows the Farmer to use any of the tools used in farming (sickle, scythe, hoe, mattock, pitchfork, etc.) in the Melee with no SL bonus but without any non-proficiency penalty either, at least in attacking, due to his familiarity and facility with them. Until the character reaches SL1 with the Melee skills, he will have a non-proficiency penalty to Parry with them. These have been included in the weapon rosters of classes and skills so the player will know under which these fall as skills for use in battle.
While it is true that the applications of this skill are limited except in a full campaign, that a character must have a garden plot to maintain or acreage to farm, a garden plot or an few acres shouldn’t be that difficult for a PC to find to at least rent, and it is an excellent bit of background for the character that can also be used to raise produce for some additional seasonal income. And in the deeps of the wild frontiers, where border lords rarely go and rule mainly in name alone, who is to keep a character from making up a garden and a small cottage hide-away, or clearing a whole farmstead to use as a base of operations?
For those choosing the decorative/fragrant flowers and herbs gardener specialty, the Herberer skill is available. The Herberer skill as an Artisan-like specialty in decorative arbors landscaping and pleasure gardens, called “plaisances”. The details are spelled out in the description of that specialty.
The Herberer skill is only available as a part of the Farmer/Gardener Trade. It is an Artisan-like specialty in decorative arbors landscaping, ponds and waterworks, fountains, and pleasure gardens, called plaisances. This special skill will also encompass The art of bonsai cultivating miniatures, if the GM likes, or even topiary creations, being extensions of this sort of skill and knowledge that, while never extant in the period of the game, can be included without upsetting the medieval social fabric of the gameworld. The GM might include knowledge necessary to cultivate temperamental plants especially medicinal herbs and those that are otherwise exotic and desirable even out of climate in the medieval version of a hothouse.
The att. mod’s for designing landscapes is based on the character’s AWA, plus a bonus based on the character’s Artisan trade and Muse, if he should have one.
The DV for cultivation is based on the fertility of the soil, plus the SL’s-worth of increase in crop yield per acre (per tree or vine in orchards or vineyards) the character is seeking. Poor soils will generally only return 6 to 10 bushels of grain per acre, after taking 2 to 3 bushels of seed grain per acre to sow. Better, more average soils, will return c. 8 to 12 bushels, while good soils will return 11 to 15 bushels per acre. This (D5) variable spread is the basic season to season fluctuation. The highest number in the range should be used as the DV to increase the yield for each growing season in turn.
If the roll is failed, the GM should check the DV under which the number rolled does fall. If this allows an increase but at a lesser effective SL, he should allow that much.
Only if it falls under a DV smaller than the base for the field should the GM allow the character’s efforts to go for naught.
The DV’s for improving the size of fruit will again be based on the SL’s-worth of size (effective yield in terms of average-sized fruit) increase the character is trying to develop. The same DV is used for making grafts.
Here again, if the roll is failed but a lesser result is indicated by the DV under which it falls, that improvement should be allowed. That SL’s-worth of improvement will also stand as the DV for the character to then get the hybrid to propagate.
If this check is failed, the strain is sterile and the character must try again.