Tratado de la Huerta ó Método de cultivar toda clase de hortalizas
Claudio Boutelou & Esteban Boutelou
Editor: Madrid, Imprenta de Villalpando
Year of edition: 1801
This small encyclopaedic dictionary disseminates the method of cultivation implemented in the botanic gardens of Spain, especially the Aranjuez one, next to Madrid. It was the first part of an ambitious work with other volumes about flowers, fruits and recreation. In this volume, the Boutelou brothers described around 80 vegetables, in alphabetic order, from Acedera (Rumex acetosa, i.e. sorrel) to Zandia or Sandía (Cucúrbita citrullus. L., i.e. watermelon). They talked about artichokes, aubergines, pumpkins, beans, tomatoes or carrots, exploring their cultivations and their uses.
The goal of the book is the scientific approach to the crops, without nonsense tricks and bad old practices. It wanted to apply the theory to reality, the geography and weather of Spain. The circulation of foreign treatises, mostly the French ones, was more important for scientists than farmers. This small agricultural encyclopaedia wanted to reach the peasants by explaining all the technical terms and using a language all the people could understand. For that, the vegetables are identified with the Spanish names and the botanical Linneo’s ones. It was the manifesto of the effort to combine scientific rigour and popular knowledge.