Medieval Europe was quite clearly divided into two agricultural zones: 1) southern, Mediterranean, where the ancient traditions of ancient farming remained, and 2) a temperate climate zone located north of the Alpine mountains.
In the south, the main grain crop was wheat. They also sowed barley, grew legumes, grapes, olives. Bread sowed under the winter: autumn rains moistened the earth and provided the development of winter crops. The plow was the same as in the era of antiquity: light, wheelless. He was pulled by a pair of oxen, if there were no oxen, donkeys, mules and even cows were harnessed to the plow. The light plow did not overturn the land layers, but only made furrows. Therefore, the field had to plow several times along and across. All other field work was carried out manually: after sowing, the field was dug by hoes and, possibly, strewed, stitched with small sickles, threshed by oxen or donkeys harnessed to the rinks. The harvest was quite low: from each sown grain
it was possible to get three or four grains per harvest. In addition to cereals, in Spain and Italy began to grow citrus fruits,
An important achievement of agriculture in the temperate zone was the transition from the 11th century. on a three-field crop rotation system, when the field was divided into three parts, and only two of them were processed each year. In this area they begin to use a heavy iron wheeled plow with a blade that did not just cut, but also turned over the top layers of the earth. Sometimes it was harnessed by four pairs of oxen. During the harvest, both the sickle and the scythe were used. Threshing in chains. However, the yield remained low. In addition to wheat and barley, rye, oats, millet were grown in the north, turnips, onions, melons, garlic were made from vegetables. At the beginning of the XIV century. begin to grow cabbage, spinach, beets, plant fruit trees.
In the monasteries, medicinal plants were grown. In some areas of Western Europe, it was monks who revived beekeeping.
One of the important branches of medieval agriculture was cattle breeding. In conditions of
poor harvests of bread, surviving without livestock was quite difficult. In the early Middle Ages, the most common domestic animal in peasant farms was a pig. Usually it was let out for the whole summer to graze in a wood. Later in the fall, the pig was stabbed and ate meat and fat throughout the winter. In monasteries, pigs were used to find truffles – rare and delicious mushrooms growing under the ground.
A real wet-nurse for the whole peasant family was a cow. A definite aid for the peasant family was sheep breeding. But the sheep required a lot of effort and time: they had to be grazed, cut, prepared for them for the winter forage, etc. The draft force in the peasant’s farm was, first of all, oxen, horses, donkeys and mules.
The peasants also bred: chickens, ducks, geese. In the IX-XII centuries. Chicken eggs were an obligatory component of the natural rent, which the peasants paid to the seniors. Ducks and geese were bred mainly in monastic farms.