Putting in a garden

So I had an idea that we needed a slave garden on site. It would have been historically accurate and I got a little tired of making fatback and ho cakes every time I needed a food to interpret. I have gotten pretty good with cooking over the fire and it’s about time I started to expand my culinary abilities. So my boss comes up to me the other day and gives me the green light to make it happen. “Oh shit.” It’s the first and only thought I had. I was looking more at starting the garden next year, once I did some research and actually learned how to work a garden. But it seems that I will start working on the garden in the next few weeks and should be able to start planting in the late spring.

My seeds have been ordered and I have been reading a lot on slave gardens and how they were tended. Since there is no way I will be able to be 100% accurate about their interpretation, I will have to make due. Most slave gardens were tended to once the slaves completed their daily chores. Often they worked these small plots in the dark of night or on Sundays. Since there is no way that I will be in the country in the dark over some patty pan squashes and watermelons, I will be working on these during business hours during the middle of the week. Call me inaccurate if you want but I live in 2010, not 1840 and there are some lines that I have to draw.

We ordered some black eye peas, brown cow peas, cabbages, turnips, collards, watermelons, corn, patty pan squash, muskmelons and some other vegetables that I can’t think of and now I just have to figure out their seasons, how long it takes to harvest and get together a schedule for weeding, and everything else that I don’t know about tending to a garden.

My main source right now has been Monticello because apparently Jefferson was a bit of a genius when it came to the garden and his slaves were incredible with what they had. I am waiting for my copy of Eugene Genovese’s Roll Jordan, Roll to come in the mail. Granted I should have owned this book about 4 years ago, but that’s what the university library was for. Now that I will have my own copy, I guess this is officially the beginning of my separate library on slave literature. I already have a bit to grown on but this just means that I am making a commitment to it. But I digress.

The slave garden will be my responsibility solely because as I have been told so many times “it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to be in the garden because we’re white.” Yes and while that is true, if we are working after our programs, I’m gonna need everybody to step back into the 21st century and help the virgin gardener get it right. This is destined to be an amazing adventure and I will be sure to have pictures. But for now, I have more reading to do.

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