6 Plants Thomas Jefferson Grew That You Can Grow Today

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| Originally Published: August 9, 2014
Thomas Jefferson Gardening

Photo courtesy of Mark Fonville

‘Tennis Ball’ Lettuce: Jefferson advised sowing a thimble full of lettuce seed every Monday. He touted ‘Tennis Ball’ among his favorites because “it does not require so much care and attention” as other types.

West Indian Gherkin: Jefferson’s home in Washington, D.C., had a pickle barrel for guests, and the gherkin, grown at Monticello, was included among these delicacies.

English Peas: Always up for a healthy competition, Jefferson and his neighboring farmers competed to see who would be the first to harvest peas in spring.

Purple Calabash Tomatoes: In Jefferson’s day, many regarded tomato plants as poisonous, but he was one of the first to plant them. He had a fondness for Calabashes, which are a ribbed and scalloped variety that work well in pastes and sauces.

Okra: Jefferson edged his tomato garden with okra, perhaps provoking the idea of cooking the two vegetables together for a savory dish.

Sesame Seed: Jefferson used these seeds to create salad oil and proclaimed them “among the most valuable acquisitions our country has ever made.” Due to their ornamental nature, he often planted them as a border to his garden.

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