Civil War Era heirlooms?

tumblingtomatoesSeptember 10, 2010

Hi all,

After reading a couple of Civil War diaries, I was curious about what kinds of vegetables (specific varieites of heirlooms) would have been commonly grown in home gardens during that time period (both South & North).

I've looked around online & can only find limited info on variety names. I often see things like lettuce, tomatoes, okra, southern peas, beans, squash, etc. But seem to have a hard time tracking down actual variety types, like Eva Purple ball tomato for example, & so on......

Does anyone have any info?

Flowers & herbs too if anyone has any info! Thanks again!

Thanks very much! :) Have a great weekend!

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organicdan(z5b Nova Scotia)

Google heirloom vegetable seeds. Many of the seed sources do identify some history and origins.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 11:48AM
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Concur, altho many of them make up stories. That era was before seed companies so ther were mostly local varieties which were passed around and might have different nmes in each locality. Examples of beans : Caseknife, Red Valentine, German Black Wax, Red Flageolet, King of the Garden. Beet: Blood Turnip. Cabbage: Drumhead, Jersey Wakefield, Winningstad, Cannon Ball, Green Glaze. Carrot: St. Valery, Danvers,Ox Heart. Collard: Georgia. Sweet corn: Cory, Stowell's Evergreen. Cucumber: White Spine, Boston Pickling, Long Green. Kohlrabi: Vienna. Lettuce: Black Seeded Simpson. melon; Banana,Nutmeg. Watermelon: Mountain Sweet, Mountain Hoosier, Scaly Bark

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 8:58PM
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Thanks guys, great info! Have a great weekend! :)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 9:32PM
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i HEARD THERE WAS A CORN VARIETY called "little picininy".

    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 2:48PM
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Really "Farmfreedom"..... no need for racist BS on a gardening forum... Some peoples' kids..... How are those attitudes holdin un in America 2010, frustrating isn't it.... Diversity abounds, even in the white house......

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 3:15PM
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Actually there is an old Sweet Corn variety called "Pickaninny". It is a yellow sweet corn when ready to eat fresh but turns black when seeds are ready for sowing.(Fall)!
There is also a Tomato called Ni@@er which can be found in the SSE Yearbook. Also there is a Red Cabbage called Dark Red Ni@@erhead.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2010 at 4:18PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

This should be of help to you, tumblingtomatoes:

Another helpful website is Old House Gardens for the bulbs

Here is some help with herbs. I make many of the herbal items found here: (not that I have a particular interest in civil war gardens, but I am interested in historic gardening of all types and eras).

This is interesting too: since so many people crave foods from their homelands or what they grew up with, it is natural that African Americans had some favorites

I have gotten a lot of information from reading historical fiction. It seems to be a great source (the author has done all the work for me!) of information to research. I take it with a grain of salt, and use the information to seek out more concrete information for myself. At the same time I often have a great read!

Happy Gardening,

    Bookmark   December 10, 2010 at 9:28PM
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I am not into RACISM that was the name back then . Henderson lima was discovered by an emancipated slave at the close of the civil war ,some say.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2010 at 4:31PM
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No one but Sage721 though you were making a racist comment, Farmfreedom. Historical names for things are often not politically correct according to today's PC police.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 9:18PM
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Geeze, I never even hear of that word, and I'm no kid. So it is possible for someone to list a variety name and not know that it was once used as a derogatory term.

The 'Field and Garden Vegetables of America' by Fearing Burr was written in 1863 and lists many of the varieties available at the time. I suggest buying that to get a good comprehensive list. It is available as a reprint.
There weren't many tomato varieties listed in it. They didn't start to come into larger popularity until the late 1880's.
As far as being PC, I just about died laughing at the section in the book on growing opium poppies and how children and women working the fields of it would make it cost effective for opium production!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 10:38AM
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organicdan(z5b Nova Scotia)

Try some of the living and historic farms or museums. Georgia is home to Georgia Agrirama (Tifton). Most collect and grow period vegetable varieties.

It would also be interesting to locate period catalogs.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 6:06PM
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The Atlanta History Center has an 1860's farm where you can see period-appropriate flowers, herbs, vegetables and field crops growing year-round. I am the Curator, you are welcome to ask any questions. Try Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for seeds that are available today and some historic information. The Cherokee Garden Library is a great source for any southern gardening questions you may have. They are a treasure trove of historic garden catalogs, books, etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Atlanta History Center's Smith Family Farm

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 1:33PM
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Can you tell me if red cabbage was grown in civil war period gardens here in Georgia?



    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 5:37PM
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Wow, a I'm a brand new member and you've begun answering my questions before I can even ask them! In the, hopefully not too distant future, I'm looking to buy a house in the historic district of a Missouri Civil War river town and the board overseeing the district is uber-strict, even in terms of gardening material. Figured the sooner I started my research the better and you provided me with several great places to start.!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 4:17PM
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