Thomas Jefferson was a lot of things – a Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, the third President of the United States of America, and a diplomat. On top of all those things, Jefferson was also a legendary American gardener – widely respected for creating a haven of sustainable agriculture at his Monticello home.
And if Jefferson were around today, most people would probably call him a “foodie” too! Included within his 5,000 acres of land at Monticello, Jefferson also kept a 1,000-foot long kitchen garden. This space was like Jefferson’s own personal gardening and culinary laboratory where sustainability was not only practiced, but prized. He cultivated over seventy different species and over 250 varieties of vegetables making him a true heirloom seed pioneer.
Records show that Jefferson himself worked the gardens, sowing peas, cabbage, okra and more. True to his scholarly reputation, Jefferson kept meticulous records – documenting things like when the lettuce “came to the table” and when his entire crop of broad beans were “killed by bug.” In 1819 Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I have lived temperately, eating little animal food, …vegetables, which constitute my principal diet.”
What better way to celebrate Presidents’ Day than by honoring a great American President and gardening pioneer? We’ve put together a great package we know gardeners, history buffs, educators, and families are going to love. We’ve gathered together some of the very same varieties of heirloom seeds Jefferson grew at Monticello for you to grow right at home in your own garden.
Here at Heirloom Solutions, we carry a handful of the same varieties that Jefferson himself grew at Monticello. Here are the top 10:
1) Ruby Moon Hyacinth Bean – A dazzling ornamental that features spectacular vines and striking violet flowers. Not for eating, but it is grown for its one-of-a-kind beauty. (Because every garden should have something pretty just to look at!) (A $5.00 value!)
2) Lacinato Kale – Thomas Jefferson’s favorite variety of kale. This hearty vegetable is very tolerant of cold temperatures and is a perennial, providing multiple harvests. (A $5.00 value!)
3) Dwarf Grey Sugar Pea – Of all the veggies and plants Jefferson grew, this was perhaps his most beloved. In fact, he would host pea-growing contests with his neighbors and friends. Jefferson dedicated lots of garden space to these peas … three entire “squares” according to his own records. (A $5.00 value!)
4) Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage – A very popular cabbage and for good reason! It’s easy to grow and very versatile in the kitchen. Dishes featuring cabbage were served often at Monticello. Mary Jefferson Randolph documented several cabbage recipes using this variety. (A $5.00 value!)
5) Tennis Ball Lettuce – Believe it or not, salads were once a hallmark of State Dinners back in Jefferson’s day. (Historians even say Jefferson was obsessed with finding the perfect salad oil!) Regarding the Tennis Ball variety, Jefferson wrote “it does not require so much care and attention.” (A $5.00 value!)
6) Purple Calabash Tomato – Jefferson was a pioneer in growing and cultivating heirloom tomatoes, before it was trendy. With a deep, dark, and almost black skin, this intensely flavored tomato was another favorite at Monticello. We love it for the unique taste. (A $5.00 value!)
7) Green Globe Artichoke – This standard home garden artichoke yields savory buds with limitless uses. It is a perennial in zones 8-9, but can be grown as an annual in the north. If you want to try your hand at growing something different with a historical flair, look no further than the Green Globe Artichoke. (A $5.00 value!)
8) Fish Pepper – This amazing pepper is a wonderful compliment to fish, oysters, and seafood. This little gem is one of our favorites here at Heirloom Solutions. If you love growing peppers, you definitely want to give this variety a try. (A $5.00 value!)
9) Yellow Arikara Beans – These beans were named for the Dakota Arikara tribe encountered by Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition across America. Dried Arikara beans helped feed and sustain the members of the expedition during the harsh winter of 1805 when they nearly starved to death. Jefferson kept the tradition alive, growing Yellow Arikara beans at Monticello long after the expedition. We’ve included one pound of this extremely rare bean. (A $22.50 value!)
10) Moon & Stars Watermelon – One of the very best tasting watermelons you can grow. This summer, in the true spirit of America, celebrate Independence Day and beyond with these delicious melons at your table! (A $5.00 value!)
Because we want to make this package truly educational and fun for the whole family, we’re including the book A Rich Spot of Earth – Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello. Learn more about Jefferson’s gardening genius in this breathtaking book. Discover what Monticello looked like then and now in this book wholly devoted to all aspects of the Monticello vegetable garden. You’ll learn all sorts of gardening traditions – from how Jefferson saved seed, and you’ll get a unique look into the half-Virginian, half-French style of cuisine Jefferson developed in his kitchen.
This special Thomas Jefferson Package has a value of over $100.00 but if you order within the next 48 hours, you’ll receive this special package for only $50.00 (plus shipping and handling, of course)! That’s half-off the retail price (and the book alone is valued at $35.00)!
Celebrate Presidents’ Day in 2014 with gardening as they did at Monticello centuries ago. It’s just one more way you can pass on a small piece of American history and heritage to your children and future generations. Plus, you’ll get to eat and enjoy some of the very best tasting vegetables available!