About the Gardens


The Heritage Garden

Believing that most folks have not seen southern crops growing, cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, sweet potatoes and peanuts have been planted. Slaves would probably have been responsible for the care of these crops.

Seed growing tips (learned the hard way from this gardener!!)

A little about the seed growing this gardener has learned. Cotton seed needs to be fresh. Several cotton crops did not germinate until a source to buy “fresh seed” was located. Then there was not any problem. Tobacco seed is very tiny, like pepper. It used to be thrown on the ashes after a fire where it would keep warm and germinate. It germinates quickly and is quite hardy. Though many tobacco farmers as in Glasgow, Mo. buy tobacco plants to get a little quicker start. Sugar cane is wonderful. Reseeds itself and pops right up like weeds!! Sweet potatoes and peanuts are not any problem. A neighbor from Georgia is going to cook the peanuts! (a new experience for this gardener)

Can’t get permission from the City fathers to grow Hemp (a relative of marijuana) which was actually a very large and valued crop in Missouri (hemp that is) especially along “Little Dixie” the counties near the Missouri River. In fact, Hemp slaves (large and powerful men) were highly valued and could bring as high as $2,000 each on the slave market. Hemp was used to make rope to bind up the cotton bales, often weighing 3-4 hundred lbs. and to tether the river flat-boats. Unfortunately, the development of wire wiped out that market.

True indigo, a very valued plant from which blue dye was made (one of the few dyes, color options the south had) has proved to be very difficult to get started. Out of 80 seeds planted, there is one surviving plant being carefully nurtured in a sunny window in the Library. Hopefully, next years crop (and the knowledge of the gardener!) will improve. To make this dye however, is a very laborious process.

The Cotton will be picked and the seeds removed by hand or by a small gin that is at Arrow Rock, Mo. Some tobacco leaves have been hung to dry in our little shed. After that? We have been told that the tassels and suckers need to be removed to encourage leaf size. Not sure what to do with the sugar cane though we have been told it can just be chewed on and eaten outright and that molasses can be made from it as it was in Pennytown, a small town settled by free blacks a few miles north of Sedalia.

The sweet potatoes will be dug and passed around the neighborhood. No problem there.

Dr. Jerry Harlan and neighbor planting potatoes in the Friendship Garden

Dr. Jerry Harlan and a neighbor planting potatoes in the Friendship Garden

Community Friendship Garden

Land behind the Library has been utilized as a community garden, offering space to plant vegetables to neighbors in the community.  Our vision is that this garden will become a time for friendship and grow a stronger community!  Anybody can come and plant something.  We even provide the tools!

This year the community has planted tomatoes, sweet potatoes, mustard greens, spinach, sunflower and lettuce


Heritage Garden

Marge in the Heritage Garden

Marge in the Heritage Garden

This is an historical garden featuring crops that slaves would typically have been responsible for working.  This is an educational garden.  Crops include tobacco, sugar cane, cotton, indigo, peanuts and sweet potatoes.

This year cotton, sugar cane and peanuts are growing well.

Tobacco hanging to dry

Tobacco hanging to dry