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Vegetables grown in early American gardens

Woodcut of an onionThe earliest American gardens were much less diverse than vegetable gardens today.  Seed companies didn't come into existance in the United States until after the Revolutionary War, so people saved their own seeds and tended to grow the same varieties year after year.  Gardeners would trade seeds with their neighbors, but since there was very little seed traffic between the United States and Europe at the time, neighbors weren't likely to have anything extremely different or innovative.

So what did early American colonists grow?  Early New England Gardens lists asparagus, beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, corn, melons, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, rutabaga, squashes, turnips.

Many of the vegetables that we now consider common were missing at the time, but not because they were unknown in Europe.  Instead, vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli, and garlic were eaten only by the very poor or by certain ethnic groups, entering mainstream American culinary tradition in the early nineteenth century (tomatoes) and the early twentieth century (broccoli and garlic.)  I can't imagine life without tomatoes and garlic!

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This post is part of our Early New England Gardens lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:





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I stopped by to "pick up" the ecology e-book, but just wanted to let you know that I loved reading this post, and also the other one on early New England gardens. Thanks for sharing all of the great information!
Comment by Sara Tue Mar 23 13:17:07 2010
Thanks! I'm always glad to hear that my lunchtime series are being read and enjoyed. And thanks for checking out my ebook! :-)
Comment by anna Tue Mar 23 15:52:41 2010

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime