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Hands-On History: How to Plant Like an American Settler

Do you ever wonder what kind of garden early American Settlers and Colonists created? Or maybe you dream of lush lilacs and boisterous begonias? Do you envision pathways lined with pansies or row upon row of rhododendron? I hate to crush your luscious dreams, but in the earliest days of America’s founding, gardens were fairly small and extremely practical.

Early settlers simply planted to survive. Often everyone had the same basic spread: vegetables for food and herbs for flavor and medicine.

Since there was no such thing as a “seed store” until well after the Revolutionary War, folks had to take care to ration what they had and protect young seedlings from the elements. Most often, gardeners would sprout seeds indoors so that the odds of seeds maturing into fruit-bearing plants were much better.

So–do you want to try your hand at planting like a regular Colonial?

Hands-on History: 4 Things to Plant Like an American Settler:

1. Beans

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Beans are actually little dried seeds. All you need to do is put them in some water and watch them sprout. As varied in color and size as they are in flavor, beans are packed with protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals and were a common dish at colonial tables. For more info on sprouting and planting beans, click here.

2. Oak Trees

As many of you know (I only recently learned this), oak trees come from acorns. (Isn’t that crazy?!) Oaks are remarkably easy to sprout, grow, and maintain indoors in the early stages. Because of its prolific growth in North America and its sturdy, long-lasting nature, oak was a common wood for the colonials to use for building. To learn how you can have your very own indoor oak tree, click here.

3. Avocado

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Among the world’s most healthy foods—and, in my opinion, among the tastiest—the avocado is as versatile as it is rich in nutrients. Just like the oak, avocado trees are incredibly easy to grow and keep as an indoor plant, though it does take up to three years to actually bear fruit. Click here for info on how to add an avocado tree to your plant collection.

4. Pineapple

Just like the avocado, pineapple was not at all common among colonial gardens. But as Thomas Jefferson once wrote: “The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.” The pineapple is not only delicious, but fits Jefferson’s idea of usefulness in how it can be sprouted and re-planted. To see how pineapples can fit into your new Colonial American garden, click here.

Why not try planting some of your own seeds just like the settlers? And let us know how it goes–we’d love to hear about it below!