Friday, November 21, 2014

Ms. Smith's Class Plants in the Jeffersonian Garden

On November 20, Ms. Smith's class had the introductory lesson about Thomas Jefferson the horticulturist. We first reviewed the basic facts: Jefferson was the 3rd U.S. President; he retired to Monticello, Va, where he had a plantation.  When he was president he sent Lewis and Clark on a expedition. Part of their job was to bring back seeds and new plants.

We discussed the definition of horticulturist and plantation. A horticulturist is an expert in the science of cultivating plants (vegetables, fruit, flowers and ornamental plants). A plantation is a large farm with crops such as tobacco and in Jefferson's case, vegetables. Jefferson's plantation was farmed by slaves.

Information about Thomas Jefferson the horticulturist and vegetable lover: he enjoyed eating vegetables and when he was president he bought lettuce from local farmers to serve at the White House; his favorite vegetable was English Peas; he planted many different types and species of vegetables in his 1,000 foot vegetable garden; he took extensive notes about his garden, often making daily records.

Today the students planted heirloom seeds of Prince Albert Peas and Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage that are from the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants at Monticello. We also planted Tonda di Parigi heirloom carrot seeds from the 19th century. We discussed meaning of heirloom: something passed down, e.g. family heirloom. Heirloom seeds are seeds that are saved and passed down. Jefferson and others save seeds of plants that they like. We also discussed that seed packets have the Latin names of the plants listed under the English names.

One student in each group was the scribe and took notes of our discussion. He and she also recorded the weather and the number and type of seeds planted. In this way we are following in Jefferson's footsteps as he wrote in a garden journal.

Follow-up: 1) students can do further research about Thomas Jefferson by visiting www.monticello. org. 2) students can measure 1,000 feet to understand scope of Jefferson's vegetable garden; 3) students will monitor growth of their vegetables and record in the class journals.

The areas and vegetables planted by each class are now identified with markers.

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