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Vegetables in Our Garden

Our garden is coming along quite nicely with a variety of popular vegetables in the 1840s. There's a lot more than photos of vegetables grown here, scroll down a bit to where the seed packets appear. 

Click seed packets framed in gold, to learn more about the garden fare so bold!

As our garden grows and we build our site, we add information about each of our 1840's inspired culinary delights. If you click the plant label haloed in gold below, you will be magically transported to tidbits of information about that delectable wonder which seems apropo.  There could be a recipe or two as well, because 1840's cooking was really swell. We hope you enjoy the journey from past to present as we make progress toward the future with fervor and the very best of intent.

Row Crops and Tuberous Roots ~
Salad Greens and Other Things ~
Creeping Vines, Oh So Fine ~
Herbs for Health and Flavor ~
Flowers Add More Than Beauty ~

Radishes fresh from the garden


Bulbous ruby red on the outside and crispy white-hot on the inside, yes that's our little radish . . .

It's popular and has a bit of a history mystery ~​

There is no real fossil trail for this crunchy wonder, but the trail of the radish is a fascinating one. It is believed to have originated in southeast Asia for this is where the truly native ones grow wild.  It is one of the first European crops to be introduced to America.

Who was first . . . the Romans, the Greeks, the Chinese? ~

The first recorded documentation of the radish dates to 300 BC; however there is no real archeological record to tell us exactly what culture was the first to cultivate the radish. There is a bit of a disagreement as to whether it was the Chinese, the Romans, or the Greeks. Herodotus, the Greek historian also known as The Father of History, claimed to see hieroglyphs of radishes on Egyptian pyramids although it is unknown which one. It has also stated that Egyptians enjoyed radishes as early as 2,700 BC.

Relief of Herodotus by Jean-Guillaume Moitte (1806), Louvre, Paris

Famous quote by Herodotus

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph depicting crops and foods

Coats of many colors ~

Throughout history the radish has been cultivated to please the palettes and culinary desirability for any taste. Giant radishes weighing up to 100 pounds and reaching three feet in length were popular in the mid-1500s in Japan. French noblemen had various sizes and colors bred and named after them as an aristocratic gesture of their personal branding of the day. Those fancy names were lost during the French Revolution which adds to the difficulty of tracing the history of the radish. Colors range from deep ruby reds to yellows, whites, purples and even black radishes favored by the Spanish. They also were bred to different shapes including not only round bulbous ones and longer varieties, but also small icicle-shaped radishes were very popular in the 1600s. 

Long radishes

Radishes of many colors

Black radishes

Very nutritious, indeed ~

The radish has always been known for great health benefits. Before the Middle Ages sailors used radishes to prevent scurvy. They are moderately high in Vitamin C, folate, Vitamin K, Potassium, Phosphorus, and B Vitamins. They are also high in fiber, high in complex carbohydrates, low in sugar and low in calories.

Exploring beyond the salad ~

Although in 1840 America the radish was most commonly eaten in salads, there are some recipes from the period that also pickled them and used the greens in cooking. Asian cuisine has used the radish extensively  as a breakfast food and in cooking. It has a pungent, peppery flavor to spice up your life. Here are two recipes taken from, "Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches (1840)." 

Radishes in the garden

Radishes clipped

Radishes sliced




To prepare radishes for eating, wash them and lay them in clean cold water as soon as they are brought in. Shortly before they go to table, scrape off the thin outside skin, trim the sharp end, cut off the leaves at the top, leaving the stalks about an inch long, and put them on a small dish. Eat them with salt.

Radishes should not be eaten the day after they are pulled, as they are extremely unwholesome if not quite fresh.

The thick white radishes, after being scraped and trimmed, should be split or cleft in four, half way down from the top.

Click the radish to visit this site ~

Radish Pods



Gather sprigs or bunches of radish pods while they are young and tender, but let the pods remain on the sprigs; it not being the custom to pick them off. Put them into strong salt and water, and let them stand two days. Then drain and wipe them and put them into a clean stone jar. Boil an equal quantity of vinegar and water. Pour it over the radish pods while hot, and cover them closely to keep in the steam. Repeat this frequently through the day till they are very green. Then pour off the vinegar and water, and boil for five minutes some very strong vinegar, with a little bit of alum, and pour it over them. Put them into a stone jar, (and having added some whole mace, whole pepper, a little tumeric and a little sweet oil,) cork it closely, and tie over it a leather or oil-cloth.    


Click the radish to visit this site ~

Radishes with Salmon -

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Radishes with Radish Greens -

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Pickled Whole Radishes -

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Onions fresh from the garden


Their story will not make you cry,

but smile with a tear in your eye;

for they were the first in ways you may not know, 

with health benefits that make you glow . . .

Old English folklore ~​

Predictions of winter by the onion skin. The story told in lure of old ~ If the outer skin of the onion is thick, the winter will be harsh and severe, while a thin outer skin predicts a mild winter.  

Seven thousand years of onions ~

Onions have been an important part of the human diet for at least 7,000 years.  The Bronze Age (3,300 B.C.) was not only the first time in history that multi-cultures began intermingling with each other with expansive trade routes of goods like textiles, spices and precious metals; it is also the time period that archaeologists have discovered traces of onions alongside stones from figs and dates in settlements during that time.

Egyptians worshiped onions as a deity

Egyptians not only worshiped the onion as a deity, they used it in funeral and festival rituals throughout the year. They dressed the deceased in onions because the pungent smell would ensure enough oxygen to stimulate the breathe for the long journey ahead.  The onion also guaranteed the heart would be maintained and the deceased would be protected as they embarked on their solar rebirth.

The Festival of Sokar - an anti-snake festival

New white, illuminated, onions merged the onion with light to light the way and stimulate the breath of the deceased.

Ritual of "Opening of the Mouth" to give breath to deceased

The medicine of the ages ~

Egyptians used onions medicinally for more than 8,000 ailments. They were used by the Chinese and Europeans medicinally as well. In Medieval Europe onions were hung over doors to ward off the plague, typhoid, and cholera. Native American tribes used onions to relieve insect stings and cold symptoms. Early explorers and expeditions used onions in their diets to ward off scurvy. 

There may be something to it ~

According to Cloverleaf Farm Herbs:

"An old folk remedy for keeping germs out of the sickroom was to place half an onion on the bedside table. Some years ago, a large American university decided to carry out tests to see whether this had any scientific basis. The researchers found that onions actually "drew" airborne bacteria from the atmosphere, thereby sanitizing the sickroom."

Medicine-man preparing medicine

Onions  have antibiotic properties effective against Salmonella typhi and E.Coli

The value was great ~

During medieval times in Europe, the onion was so cherished and valuable, it was used as a form of currency.   


Although onions grew wild on the continent, it was the first vegetable the colonists planted when they arrived in America. 

Ulysses S. Grant refused to go into battle without onions:

In 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant declared in an advisory to the federal government, “I will not move my army without onions!”

Ulysses S. Grant during Civil War

Recipes of old ~

Click image for zoomable PDF

Here are a few recipes using onions that folks in the days gone by may have enjoyed ~

Click image for zoomable PDF

Click image for zoomable PDF

Recipes with a new flare ~

There are literally millions of recipes that feature the onion; but these may be a more unique fare if you dare!

Onions stuffed with Lentils

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The National Onion Assn.

Caramelized Onions in Iron Skillet

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Derek on Cast Iron

Cranberry Onion Tarts

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The National Onion Assn.

Cranberry Caramelized Onion Focaccia

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Floating Kitchen

Carmelized Onion Herb Rolls

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The Mother Earth News

Pear, Brie & Caramelized Onions

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Real House Moms

Fig, Onion, & Labneh Gallette

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Cook Til Delicious

Caramelized Onion Dark Chocolate Ice Cream click image to visit

Sauce Magazine

Secret Chocolate Cake

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The National Onion Assn.

 A little art and old humor ~

From Russian architecture to modern Japanese home decor and cartoon humor of old, the onion has make its mark in art!

Russian architecture pays homage to the onion.

Yamagiwa contemporary onion lamp from Japan 2018

Botanical Illustration of Onion

circa 1815

German cartoon circa 1900

Woodcut of onion circa 1547

Fun Fact: New York City was first referred to as "The Big Onion"
 Not safe for all creatures of the earth ~

Onions can be used in the garden to discourage certain creatures from rooting around like rabbits, deer, and mice. They also aid in repelling many insect pests; however, thrips can be a problem in milder climates. 


"Members of the onion family, including onions, shallots, garlic, chives and leeks, are toxic to both cats and dogs. When ingested, these plants cause hemolytic anemia or the breakdown of red blood cells, according to the ASPCA. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, panting, blood in the urine, rapid heartbeat and even death. In the garden, these plants give off a fragrance that is attractive to cats and dogs. Although your pet probably won't dig up the roots, it might chew on the leaves. Surround onions with a chicken wire enclosure; call your vet immediately if you suspect accidental ingestion."

excerpt from SFGATE


Tomatoes in the garden


Time to ketchup on the tale of this delectable fruit,

The most popular vegetable in every garden, no dispute;

Fruit? Vegetable? Why does this question persist?

Let's explore the garden path and every turn and twist . . .

Not so very long ago ~​

The tomato went from least popular and most feared fruit to most popular in short order.  

Tomatoes are part of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, which is where the confusion began. Keep in mind that botanists and naturalists were given rock star celebrity status for centuries and their expertise and word was considered absolute. Also, much of their information was shared via drawings that were excellent, but easily confused.

In 1692 world-renowned botanist, Joseph Pitton de Tournefort,  gave the tomato its first formal botanic classification. Though he accepted the general classification Solanaceae, he disputed that tomatoes belonged to the genus solanum, as the fruits had more inner divisions than was normally found in those plants.

JosephPittondeTournefort. Stipple engrav

Joseph Pitton de Tournefort.

Stipple engraving

by J. Hopwood, 1802.

Joseph de Tournefort.jpg

His illustration denotes the heart-shaped seed pockets, hence he called them "Apples of Love."

A live engraving of

Joseph Pitton de Tournefort.

Heart Outline

A color illustration of  the tomato.

The botanical illustration of "Apples of Love" by

Joseph Pitton de Tournefort.

Oh! The Horror ~

18th century painting of

Galen by Georg Paul Busch

It is obvious that the blame for the erroneous poison label placed on the tomato must ultimately be put on the shoulders of Aelius Galenus (a.k.a. Claudius Galenus), the acclaimed Greek who lived nearly 1,500 years earlier. 

In modern times, he became known simply as Galen. Who was he, you may ask? He was the man of his day. Galen was such an accomplished physician, philosopher, and surgeon, he single-handedly has had the most influence on anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, neurology, philosophy, and logic in human history.

Wolf Peach.jpg

A woodcut showing two mandrake plants.

Galen wrote of the dangers of the "Wolf Peach." He described it as a "poisonous Egyptian plant with strong-smelling yellow juice and a ribbed celery-like stalk."  Wild yellow, cherry tomatoes back then were strikingly similar to the mandrake plant of the nightshade family all were so fearful of.  There was much more involved in these fears than the treacherous death. Much more, indeed . . .

00 Witch with tomatoe.jpg

Witches coated broomsticks with mandrake so they could fly.

By 1561 it was believed that witches used the foul yellow sap of the mandrake berries to coat their brooms, thus allowing them to fly. Furthermore, by 1590, the most prolific witch-hunter, Judge Henry Boguet wrote "Examens of Witches" in which he published case studies of witches.

Lycaon turned into a wolf

by Goltzius (1589)

An Examen of Withces Henry Boguet Chief

"An Examens of Witches"

by Judge Henry Boguet


He noted that witches, upon using their magical potions, particularly enjoyed becoming werewolves. This made it easier for them to attack the left sides of small children and stalk their human prey throughout the withering fields of the time.


Wolves were a most feared creature that roamed the countryside in mid-evil times.

Have no fear, the palate shall persevere ~
John Gerards the Herball of Generall His

"Generall Historie of Plantes"

by John Gerard (1597)

The highly respected John Gerard, an English barber and surgeon, tried his best to dissuade people from eating tomatoes by describing them as "Rank and stinking," in his herbal bible of the day, "Generall Historie of Plantes."


Why might he have done this? Perhaps because the Italians and Spanish did not fear the tomato, they adored tomatoes; but he didn't want his own countrymen or the poor to indulge in what he thought was a satanic fruit. However, Gerard had the audacity to include recipes in his famous book for tomatoes fried with salt and pepper as well as eaten raw with vinegar.

1879 Garden Book engraving of tomatoes.j

Engraving of tomato plants

from 1879 Garden Book


The origins of the tomato began in Central and western South America, more specifically, the Aztecs were known to have cultivated them. They called them xitomatl  [ʃiːˈtomatɬ] which means "plump with navel." This evolved into the Spanish word, tomate, and the current name, tomato.

Seeds were brought back to Europe by Cortez in 1519, after discovering them growing in Montezuma's gardens. At that time they were planted simply as ornamentals in the European gardens; however it was the poor people of the Mediterranean who discovered this delicious addition to their mundane diets. 

Hernán Cortés Monroy,

painting from book, "America"

R. Cronau (19th century)

Ironically, pewter saved the day for the tomato.  As we have learned, it wasn't the tomato that was poison; it was the pewter dinnerware of the wealthy. The acid from the tomato causes the lead in pewter to leech into the food causing it to be poisoned. 

The peasants ate from wooden plates so they were not only safe, but getting the glorious wealth of nutrition tomatoes provide to fight disease. 


18th century antique pewter place setting

USDA nutritional values for tomatoes

from HerbZest ~ click for PDF

Today Americans enjoy more than twelve million tons of tomatoes in their diets annually; but even with the kudos and promotion from Thomas Jefferson, tomatoes did not become popular in America until 1860 with the onset of the Civil War out of necessity. Prior to that ketchup had become a favorite more so than salad tomatoes.

Thanks to the European emigrants and Thomas Jefferson, tomato seeds were brought to the colonies, not by way of Mexico, where tomatoes had been cultivated for quite some time.  The trek of the tomato began in the Americas, went to the Mediterranean and Europe, then made its way back to the New World.


Vegetable garden of Monticello

Mamma mia, the late 1800s brings more than one change ~
Margherita of Italy.jpg

Many Italians came to the United States in the 1880s; and they brought that beloved tomato, and, oh the recipes, with them. At the same time, upon succession of Umberto on January 8, 1878, Queen Margherita became the first Italian monarch since Napoleon conquered Italy. In the excitement of having a new queen, a restaurateur in Naples wanted to pay homage to her when she visited by creating a very special dish. 


He wanted to represent the colors of the new Italian flag: red, white and green. Red is represented by tomato sauce, white by mozzarella cheese, and green by a basil topping. 

Queen Margherita of Italy 

Pizza Margherita.jpg

Viola! Pizza was invented and those three ingredients remain the standard to this day. Thank you from us all for the creation of Pizza Margherita!

Pizza Margherita today

The Supreme Court decides ~

Fruit is defined as: the edible plant structure of a mature ovary of a flowering plant, usually eaten raw; some are sweet like apples, but the ones that are not sweet such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc. are commonly called vegetables.


While a botanist will state that a fruit is any fleshy material that covers a seed or seeds, horticulturists will see the tomato as a vegetable.

The Fuller Court 1899.jpg

The Fuller Court ~ photo 1899

Click image to read the court decision.

When it comes to taxation, it is time for the courts to decide. Specifically, the U.S. Supreme Court was called to the task of deciding in 1893. The tomato had been classified as a fruit to avoid taxation; but the court officially ruled it as a vegetable to be taxed accordingly. 

Excerpt from the decision:

"Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans and peas. But in the common language of the people, whether sellers or consumers of provisions, all these are vegetables, which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with or after the soup, fish or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert."

002 tOMATO.png
Recipes of Old ~

Keeping in mind how tomatoes were viewed less than 200 years ago, these recipes are quite a treasure from actual recipe books of the day. Note how the structure of recipes are more like the prose of a letter written to a friend. 

from "The Improved Housewife" (1843):

written by: Mrs. A. L. Weber 

Click the image for a printable PDF

of each recipe card.

1843 Preserved Tomatoes.png
1843 Tomato Ketchup.jpg

NOTE: This recipe specifically advised using a pewter basin to simmer the tomatoes in. As we learned above ~


Tomato Marmalade 1843 Recipe card.jpg
Tomato Pie 1843 Recipe.jpg
From the Vine to Our Table ~

Try a recipe from below,

Tomatoes are much more than just show . . .

Beautiful orbs of purple, orange, yellow, and red,

An exquisite way to keep us fed!


Rustic Heirloom Tomato Tart

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1840 Farm website for recipe

tomato and mozzarella tart - piggy journ

Tomato and Mozarella Tart

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Piggy's Journal

Tomato Pie and Herb Corn My Recipes.JPG

Red Snapper Cocktail

click image for recipe 

and printable PDF

sundried tomatoes.jpg

Tomato Pie with Fresh Corn & Herbs

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My Recipes

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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Genius Kitchen


Tomato Sushi

click image for recipe and visit


Tomato Popcorn.jpg

Tomato Popcorn

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The Sacremento Bee


Tomato and Salted Plum Granita

click image for recipe and visit

Piggy's Journal

Tomato soup Spice Cake.jpg

Fried Green Tomatoes

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Pinch and Swirl


Baked Tomatoes w/Thyme

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Tomato Bread Pudding

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havarti and sun dried tomato cheesecake.

Havarti and Sun-Dried Tomato Cheesecake

click image for recipe and visit

Betty Crocker


Tomato Cobbler w/Bleu Cheese Biscuits

click image for recipe and visit

Joy the Baker

1940s Tomato Soup Cake

click image for recipe 

from Carolyn Welch

Sewing More Tidbits of Tomato Knowledge ~

We've learned a lot about this berry-seeded vegetable; and here's a bit more about this remarkable fruit of the vine.


The Spanish conquistadors thought the seeds of tomatoes were an aphrodisiac because their tomatoes were shaped like hearts. So even though many believed the tomato poisonous, they still took the risk to flame their passions.

The Italians referred to the tomato as a pomodoro, or "golden apple."

tomato-1816434_1280 - Copy.jpg
Vintage Green house.jpg

Antique greenhouse

In the 1870s, A.W. Livingston of Columbus, Ohio had the foresight to see how popular tomatoes would become. He began cultivating tomatoes and collecting the seeds of the most perfect specimens to sell. Alexender is credited with producing the first reliable seed variety and for producing 31 different varities.

Since tomato seedlings are very sensitive to minute amounts of natural gas, nurserymen use the seedlings in greenhouses to warn them about leaking gas heaters.


Twisted logic, indeed! During the Victorian Age, it was thought to bring good luck to place a ripe tomato on the mantel when first entering a new dwelling. 

Turner Tomato.jpg

This would ward off evil spirits. Since tomatoes were seasonal, it became popular to create a tomato pin cushion (because everyone sewed) and the pins stuck into it would ward off the voodoo of evil spirits. A "strawberry" filled with emery powder was added to the top to keep those pins and needles sharp!

tomato pin cushion.JPG

A little fun ~ click the coloring page for a printable PDF for the kiddies to color in.

Thanks to the Collinsville Garden Club and their tender care to our garden, the Friends of the D.D. Collins House donated 50 lbs. of tomatoes to the Collinsville Food Pantry in 2018. 
Great job!
DD Tomato Coloring Page.jpg
Joseph Pitton de Tournefort apples of lo

Phone:  Call Lavadna at 618.420.0288         

Mail: c/o 104 Irene Dr., Collinsville, IL 62234 

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