Planting Heirloom Veggies

Gardening tips from Monticello’s head vegetable gardener, Pat Brodowski.

Garden stakes indicate Jefferson’s heirloom plants.

Photo by Jen Fariello.

Although some of Pat Brodowski’s techniques are unique to Monticello, others apply to any Virginia gardener. Here, she offers a few tips for fellow gardeners.

• Because the garden at Monticello faces almost exactly south, it’s hotter and dryer than you’d expect. The solution? “We have to plant things deeply because the surface is so dry,” she says.

• Rather than buying plants, grow heirloom vegetables from seed; simply save seeds from the fruit or vegetable each year. “You don’t have to invest a lot of money after the first seed package,” says Brodowski. You can also share heirloom seeds. “That’s the cool thing about heirlooms.”

• Pop your seeds into the refrigerator to keep them longer.

• Tomato seeds and anything fleshy should be fermented. Put the seeds in a cup of water. Within a week all the good seeds will drop to the bottom of the water.

• Encourage beneficial insects and birds to do pest control. Observe what is going on and don’t spray toxins. 


Read more about the gardens at Monticello and Brodowski’s methods in the April 2020 issue

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