100 years of gardening, and not much has changed

Jerry Vitalis
Chisago County Master Gardener
If you read my articles, you know the importance of good garden records. I recently received a copy of some garden records that put mine to shame.

Retired Master Gardener Clayton Rivard and Taylors Falls history guru Jack Liljenberg passed this along to me, and I’d like to share it with you.

The information was from W.H.C. Folsom’s garden records for 1898 and 1899. Folsom, who lived from 1817-1900, raised his garden at what is now the historic Folsom House in Taylors Falls.

His records included a day-by-day weather report. In the last part of March and first part of April, Folsom recorded at least six inches of snow on March 20, March 28, March 31 and April 3. My records for this past spring show 10 inches of snow on April 3.

He made a list of everything he planted in his garden; it’s no different from what we plant today.

Folsom recorded that on Tuesday, May 17 of 1898, he planted potatoes, watermelons and squash in ground that was very dry. On that date in 2014, I planted Candy and Copra onions and Yukon Gold potatoes. I had already planted my Norland Red potatoes on May 10.

Folsom planted beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips and sweet corn on May 18, after a good rain the night before. On May 18 of this year, I planted lettuce and spinach. My spinach was covered by mud three times, so later I transplanted carrots in their place.

On several acres of Folsom property he raised apples, plums, cherries, grapes, gooseberries, cranberries, raspberries, currents and blueberries. The only fruit that I see missing are strawberries.

I can’t believe that he took care of all of these plants himself, but I have no record of Folsom having any help.

His list of trees and shrubs is the same as we grow today. He even included sumac and prickly ash, because they were on the property.

Things haven’t changed that much in 115 years of gardening.