The character of backyard greens has been altered for the reason that early 1800’s as a result of expertise of business manufacturing, the tastes of the patron public, and even the perform of the vegetable itself. A number of the variations that distinguish trendy varieties from their nineteenth-century dad and mom embody insect and illness resistance, a fruit appropriate for delivery, compact vegetation, extra constant harvesting dates, and extra cosmetically pleasing fruits.
Most vegetable species are annuals and thus are misplaced simply if seed assortment is uncared for. Names have been modified for industrial functions. Jefferson usually listed varieties in accordance with the particular person from whom he obtained the seed (“Leitch’s pea”), its homeland (“Tuscan bean”), or else he famous a bodily attribute similar to shade (“yellow carrot”) or season of harvest (“Ahead pea”). “Leitch’s pea” shouldn’t be solely unavailable from industrial sources in the present day, however there is no such thing as a description of its qualities within the backyard literature of the final two centuries. The gathering of Jefferson’s 250 vegetable varieties is a fancy problem. In lots of instances, the varieties planted within the backyard in the present day have been recognized within the nineteenth century, and function substitutes for the originals grown by Jefferson.
A significant affect on Jefferson’s gardening practices was Bernard McMahon, a Philadelphia nurseryman and writer of The American Gardener’s Calendar, essentially the most full American work on horticulture within the first half of the nineteenth century. McMahon’s guide supplies instructions for manuring the backyard, interplanting lettuce and radishes, cultivating uncommon greens similar to tomatoes and sea kale, and planting cucumbers in hogsheads. These practices have been duplicated fastidiously within the backyard at Monticello. McMahon additionally despatched Jefferson necessary vegetable varieties such because the Leadman’s Dwarf pea, the Egyptian onion, Early York and Sugarloaf cabbage, pink celery, and pink globe artichoke.
In 1793, Martha Randolph wrote her father from Monticello and complained of insect injury within the backyard. Jefferson’s response summarized a fundamental philosophy of gardening:
“We’ll do this winter to cowl our backyard with a heavy coating of manure. When earth is wealthy it bids defiance to droughts, yields in abundance, and of the very best quality. I believe that the bugs which have harassed you have got been inspired by the feebleness of your vegetation; and that has been produced by the lean state of the soil. We’ll assault them one other yr with joint efforts.”
How a lot manure Jefferson unfold himself is a matter of hypothesis; nevertheless, in his day by day consideration to particulars within the backyard as evidenced by the “Backyard Kalendar” means that he was at hand, maybe directing the work. Jefferson’s slave Isaac recalled that “For amusement he [Jefferson] would work generally within the backyard for half an hour in proper good earnest within the cool of the night.”