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With the First Lady, Michelle Obama, beginning the Whitehouse Kitchen Garden for Spring 2009, the momentum has begun!

Last year, many seed companies had record sales and I expect to see even  more articles on this in 2009. Where  did this concept “Kitchen Garden” begin anyway?

It was brought to America in Colonial times from European settlers. These gardens were near to the kitchen to gather food.

Larger gardens at Wealthier Homes-The 8-Squares

In our travels, we’ve seen some 8-square gardens as part of Colonial America at larger homes. The first on is in Virginia and near Williamsburg. (Williamsburg Foundation owns this site.) Carter’s Grove has a HUGE 8-square garden in the rear of the house. Each plot is so large that a small house could be built on it!

Also in Virginia, at Bacon’s Castle, is a very large 8-square garden. Both of these home are dated  from Colonial times. Our 8-square garden is pictured below. We recently bricked all the pathways and it is much more formal. It is also MUCH easier to take care of than the gravel previously there. Our little squares are each approximately 5-foot square.

We don’t have the help to take care of it as a larger garden would require. Our Mantis tiller does a fine job each year on the plots. There’s enough food for us, to freeze, and give to our family.

Other Large Kitchen Gardens

While George Washington and Thomas Jefferson didn’t have 8-square kitchen gardens, they did have HUGE gardens! Thomas Jefferson’s garden is a huge, one piece garden. It still is used today to show the gardening techniques and plants from Jefferson’s time. He did have slave houses in a row on one side of the garden called Mulberry Row.

George Washington had the kitchen gardens on one side of the vast lawn and the floral gardens on the other side. They are surrounded by brick walls. There are many geometrically-shaped plots for the veggies and each is bordered by herbs. In the center of this garden is a well. This garden, too, is growing now.

They are MUST-see places on the travel list!

Click here for our Mt. Vernon page

Medium-sized and Small-sized Kitchen Gardens

Williamsburg, VA is a good place to explore the Colonial kitchen gardens in these sizes. Take a walk around and you see not only size differences but pattern differences.


Williamsburg page

Mt. Vernon Kitchen Garden section with espaliered fruit tress on the left.

Fordhook Farm. Heronswood Open, squash in large pot in today’s garden.

Williamsburg– view to rear of small house into garden.

Text Box: SEE US IN THE GARDEN WEB BAZAAR–search-”boxwood”