Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Growing History

Being a history buff I have always wondered what type of vegetables our forefathers raised in their gardens, and recently I purchased seeds that may allow me to satisfy my curiosity.

Below, from the seed vendor's site, is a brief description of what I plan on growing in the near future:

Brown Dutch Winter (1731)
This is a very historic lettuce mentioned as early as 1731 by British botanist Stephan Switzer. It was also very popular in Colonial America and Thomas Jefferson often planted it at Monticello.
Brown Dutch was the most frequently planted of the approximately seventeen lettuce varieties documented by Jefferson in the kitchen garden at Monticello. Seed was sowed twenty-seven times between 1809 and 1824, primarily in the fall for a winter harvest.

No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, no culture comparable to that of the garden. But though an old man, I am but a young gardener. - Thomas Jeffereson

Speckled (1799)
A very old heirloom that was brought to Waterloo County, Ontario by covered wagon from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1799 by the Martin Family. The seed was obtained from Urias Martin by Mark Reusser and sent to Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. According to William Woys Weaver it is the same variety as Thorburn’s Orchid Lettuce. This is a butterhead type of lettuce with reddish brown speckles on the green leaves

Spotted Aleppo (pre1731)
An ancient variety that had been grown in Aleppo, Syria for a long time prior to being introduced into Europe in the early 1700’s. It was also grown in colonial America and was offered by Bernard McMahon in 1804 and many other North American seed companies until the 1870’s. Spotted Aleppo is a beautiful loose headed Romaine type of lettuce with many bronze speckles.

Tom Thumb (1850s)
A small growing green lettuce with heads that only get 3-4" across.

I have included a link to the site where I purchased the seed in case someone else would like to plant a History Garden.


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