African-American Heritage Garden
Space for a garden dedicated to growing plants in this
Grid paper to plan your garden
Seeds or plant starts
Adult help planting and growing the garden
Get a group together to collect recipes from elders or
Plan a cooking day to savor dishes from the plants you
Perhaps give away or sell the rest?
theme garden for summer 2010 is an African-American
is hoped that kids' garden clubs all over the city of Omaha will be growing these same plants and
learning and enjoying. Enrichment activities will be posted on this website all
summer long for these plants, as well as others that clubs might want to grow,
a fun way to combine gardening education with some multicultural history and
also nutrition education. Best of all, there's good eating ahead, if you start
the short articles in the "Planning" section of this website to prepare your
garden bed and plan for watering and nourishing your garden. Measure how much
space you have. You'll have to match your space with the needs of the plants
you grow. You don't want to plant too much, but you sure want to plant enough!
probably a good idea to limit your garden to about 100 square feet to start,
and plan to grow about 10 plants to start. Once you master that, you can expand
next year, if you want to. But you don't want to get in over your head!
a list of plants to consider:
§ mustard greens
§ turnip greens
§ cowpeas (also known as black-eyed
§ hot peppers
§ sweet potatoes
§ Long-Handled Dipper Gourds
§ Birdhouse/Bottle Gourds
can find seeds for most of these from your favorite garden store, or go online
to any number of seed companies.
great option is to order seeds from the D. Landreth Seed Co., the oldest seed company
in the United States.
They're marking their 225th anniversary with a special collection of
African-American heritage seeds that date back to people who came to America
long, long ago from Africa and the Caribbean:
Order a catalog: 800-654-2407
the Black people who first grew these seeds were coming to the United States
to be slaves. They were coming from Africa and the Caribbean.
since they were literally being "transplanted," they brought along the seeds of
their favorite food plants from their gardens in order to transplant them here,
and grow the same plants once they got here so that they could eat the same
also innovated with plants that were native to the American South, where they
were slaves. They learned to grow these new food crops, developed recipes for
them, and combined them with their own family favorites for some of the best American
cooking of all.
food plants produce fruits and vegetables that are among the most nutritious
and delicious of all food products.
When you're ready to plan your garden:
Chart the length and width of your
garden onto grid paper with fairly large squares. It's a good idea to make one
square represent one square foot - 12 inches square. Then, when you look on the
seed packet to see how far apart to plant your plants and seeds, you will
neither overcrowd nor plant too sparsely.
Choose which plants you would like to
grow, and how many plants of each type you would like to try, depending on how
much garden space you have.
Notice how many inches - or feet -
apart you are supposed to plant the seeds of the different varieties. If you
decide to have watermelon plants, you will need a lot more space than a few
turnip greens. In fact, if you choose watermelons, you might not have room for many
more plants, since they spread out so much, unless you can start another garden
So look on the package directions for
how much space each plant needs, and plan accordingly. Draw boxes or ovals in
your grid showing where they will spread out to, once they are full-grown and
begin to bear.
Now, order the seeds, and wait! For
gardeners, that's the worst part!
If you have the equipment to start the
seeds indoors, do so several weeks before the last frost. Otherwise, plant the
seeds at the time and in the way instructed on the seed package. Be sure to
keep those seed packets for future reference!
As the garden gets going, you can have
fun interviewing people who are African-American and happen to be good
gardeners and good cooks. They will no doubt have some great tips for caring
for these plants, and might have some great traditional recipes to share with
A triple use for the garden might be:
recipes, schedule a cooking day, and make a few traditional African-American
dishes with your garden produce; then have a party to introduce your friends to
these tastes and textures (use the recipe file on www.KidsGardenClub.org to get
some of your extra produce to a food pantry;
the rest of your garden bounty in special baskets, with a few recipes, at your
church or to friends, to raise money for next year's garden efforts.