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Land of Opportunity

Each season brings harvests of our gardens’ varieties

Photography by Darnell Vennie

“We are always happy to get vegetables from the gardens, which we pickle and preserve as well as cook,” said Frank Clark, master of the Historic Foodways trade. Eve Otmar, a historic gardener, says radishes were found in Williamsburg in the 18th century. Some were red-rooted and known as “Spanish” or “turnip” radishes. A smaller variety developed in Italy could also be found here.

These vegetables of summer and fall bring to mind the crops that Colonists would have known. Robert Beverley, a planter and Colonial official in Virginia, described the sweet potato in his book The History and Present State of Virginia as “about as long as a Boy’s leg.” Sweet potatoes grown in the Historic Area, while of good size, don’t fit that description.

These vegetables of summer and fall bring to mind the crops that Colonists would have known. Robert Beverley, a planter and Colonial official in Virginia, described the sweet potato in his book The History and Present State of Virginia as “about as long as a Boy’s leg.” Sweet potatoes grown in the Historic Area, while of good size, don’t fit that description.

Cowpeas, shown here shelled and in their native state, were brought to North America through the slave trade, says Ed Schultz, a journeyman historic farmer. Commonly known as black-eyed peas, this drought-resistant variety is called Iron Clay. It develops vines that, when planted in cornfields, can snake around the stalks.

Cowpeas, shown here shelled and in their native state, were brought to North America through the slave trade, says Ed Schultz, a journeyman historic farmer. Commonly known as black-eyed peas, this drought-resistant variety is called Iron Clay. It develops vines that, when planted in cornfields, can snake around the stalks.

“We are always happy to get vegetables from the gardens, which we pickle and preserve as well as cook,” said Frank Clark, master of the Historic Foodways trade. Eve Otmar, a historic gardener, says radishes were found in Williamsburg in the 18th century. Some were red-rooted and known as “Spanish” or “turnip” radishes. A smaller variety developed in Italy could also be found here.

These vegetables of summer and fall bring to mind the crops that Colonists would have known. Robert Beverley, a planter and Colonial official in Virginia, described the sweet potato in his book The History and Present State of Virginia as “about as long as a Boy’s leg.” Sweet potatoes grown in the Historic Area, while of good size, don’t fit that description.

These vegetables of summer and fall bring to mind the crops that Colonists would have known. Robert Beverley, a planter and Colonial official in Virginia, described the sweet potato in his book The History and Present State of Virginia as “about as long as a Boy’s leg.” Sweet potatoes grown in the Historic Area, while of good size, don’t fit that description.

Hardneck garlic had both culinary and medicinal uses, Otmar says. This garlic forms flower stalks called scapes, which are delicious pickled, she says. As Wesley Greene noted in Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way, garlic was a “celebrated cure for the bite of a mad dog.”

Hardneck garlic had both culinary and medicinal uses, Otmar says. This garlic forms flower stalks called scapes, which are delicious pickled, she says. As Wesley Greene noted in Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way, garlic was a “celebrated cure for the bite of a mad dog.”

Thomas Jefferson thought corn was “ruinous to lands.” Rather than feed cattle and horses the cured tops of the corn plant, he tried instead to feed his livestock pumpkins during the winter.

A string of peppers, including the hot Scotch bonnet, fish peppers and red peppers, dries in a doorway. Clark noted that the peppers were an inexpensive way to add flavor to a variety of dishes. But as 18th-century cookbook author Hannah Glasse cautioned in her recipe to dress a turtle in the West Indian way, “a little Cayan pepper, and take care not to put too much.”

A string of peppers, including the hot Scotch bonnet, fish peppers and red peppers, dries in a doorway. Clark noted that the peppers were an inexpensive way to add flavor to a variety of dishes. But as 18th-century cookbook author Hannah Glasse cautioned in her recipe to dress a turtle in the West Indian way, “a little Cayan pepper, and take care not to put too much.”