Ready to add a bit of Jefferson’s influence to your garden? Start small by sowing a few of his favorite seeds in your plots. You can purchase seeds for the following varieties at

1“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.

Related Recipe: Strawberry, Mozzarella and Walnut Salad

2West Indian Gherkin

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Suzie’s Farm

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

3English Peas

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Cuesa

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

Related Recipe: Minty Peas

4Purple 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.

Related Recipe: Fresh Ricotta Tomato Salad


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

Related Recipe: Okra Oven Fries


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