The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

Kitchen gardening in America

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869. Culinary vegetables grow in the same perfection in North America as in England, except the cauliflower and some species of beans. Sea-kale and tart rhubarb are not yet generally cultivated ; and Mr. Gordon found a gentleman at Charleston who had never seen a cauliflower. But, through the influence of the American horticultural societies, and the extensive correspondence of the American nurserymen with those of Europe, since the peace of 1814, every thing European will soon become general in the New World, 'Common vegetables,' says Mrs. Trollope, 'at Now Orleans, are abundant and fine. I never saw sea-kale or cauliflowers ; and, either from the want of summer rain, or the want of care, the harvest of green vegetables is much sooner over than with us. The Americans eat the Indian corn in a great variety of forms: sometimes it is dressed green, and eaten like peas; sometimes it is broken in pieces when dry, boiled plain, and brought to table like rice : this dish is called hominy. The flour of it is made into at least a dozen different sorts of cakes : mixed in the proportion of one third with fine wheat, it makes by far the best bread I ever tasted.' (Dom. Man. of the Amer., vol. ii. p. 99.) At Cincinnati Mrs. Trollope found 'tomatocs (the great luxury of the American table in the eyes of Europeans) in the markets from June to December.' She also found the Lima bean in great perfection. The fruit, she says, was bad : there were neither apricots nor nectarines; 'the strawberries were very small; raspberries much worse; gooseberries very few, and quite uneatable ; currants about half the size of those grown in Britain; grapes too sour for tarts ; apples abundant, but very indifferent ; and pears, cherries, and plums most miserably bad.' The water-melons were abundant and cheap ; but all other melons were inferior to those of France and England. (Ibid., vol. i. p. 87.) Water-melons, musk-melons, squashes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, &c. arrive at great perfection.