January 23, 2014


[Activity: Grow a Plant From a Cutting]

by Brandon Marie Miller

Is it only January? Dear Winter-- usually I'm a fan of brisk snowy days and a steaming cup of hot chocolate. But you've gone too far, my friend. Temperatures hovering around or below zero?
Dangerous wind chills? Cars that groan while deciding if they can start or not. And that burst water pipe that unleashed a torrent from the ceiling-- not kind at all!

My thoughts have leaped ahead to spring's warmer days and show of greenery. I've been working on my new book about women in colonial America. This week I wrote about Eliza Lucas Pinckney, the South Carolina teenager who experimented with growing indigo in the 1740s. Eliza's successful efforts making indigo dye created a new cash crop for South Carolina, second only to rice. "I own I love the vegitable world extremely," wrote Eliza, as she also introduced figs, alfalfa, ginger and cotton to her father's plantations.

I've written about others who shared Eliza's passion for "the vegitable world" including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Like Eliza, they experimented with plants and soils and enjoyed
adding new specimens of flowers, grasses, vegetables, fruits and nuts to their gardens. People shared seeds and plants and found ways to propagate new plants from old ones using techniques like grafting, budding, and taking cuttings.

In this activity from THOMAS JEFFERSON FOR KIDS, HIS LIFE AND TIMES, try growing a plant from a cutting and once warm weather finally arrives, your plant is ready for the great outdoors or a sunny window ledge.

In the mean time-- think warm thoughts, make a cup of cocoa, and my best winter tip-- snuggle up and read a good book!


  1. Great connection to Jefferson! I'm so glad you're sharing these ideas.
    NOAH WEBSTER & HIS WORDS, 2013 Golden Kite Award for best nonfiction book of 2012

  2. Thanks, Jeri! That means a lot coming from you!