A perennial whose spring arrival at table is much heralded, asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) was one of the first vegetables planted at Monticello. In his Memorandum Books Jefferson noted plans to seed asparagus beds in 1770. Whether those plans came to fruition is not known, but on 29 April 1771 he wrote in the Garden Book that 2 beds were seeded. Maintained properly, asparagus plants can produce for many years and by 1812 Jefferson had seven beds of asparagus in his garden. Jefferson included instructions on maintaining the asparagus plantings in his “General Gardening Calendar,” published in the American Farmer, and mentioned routinely dressing the beds and replanting the roots or crowns in his Garden Book. The earliest this European vegetable came to table was 23 March 1794 and the latest 13 April of 1810 and 1814. Jefferson mentioned planting two varieties of asparagus, East India and Cooper’s Pale Green. Developed in New Jersey, the latter was received in 1807 from Timothy Matlack of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and planted 8 April.
Edwin Morris Betts, ed., Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Book, 1766–1824 (Philadelphia, 1944).
Peter J. Hatch, “A Rich Spot of Earth”: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello (New Haven, 2012), 199-201.
Jefferson, “A General Gardening Calendar,” Baltimore American Farmer, 21 May 1824, 72.
|Date||Location||Time||Temp. (F)||Weather Conditions||Plants||Wind Direction|
|Washington, D.C.||3:00:00 PM||65.00||Asparagus, Broccoli||View Data|
|Monticello, Albemarle County, Virginia||3:00:00 PM||62.00||Cloudy||Asparagus||View Data|
|Washington, D.C.||3:00:00 PM||64.00||Fair||Asparagus||W||View Data|
|Monticello, Albemarle County, Virginia||AM||54.00||Cloudy
|Washington, D.C.||3:00:00 PM||60.00||Fair||Asparagus||NW||View Data|
|Monticello, Albemarle County, Virginia||3:00:00 PM||60.00||Cloudy||Asparagus||SE||View Data|
|Monticello, Albemarle County, Virginia||3:00:00 PM||77.00||Fair||Asparagus||S||View Data|