White House garden

Newsy Gardens & Plants-April 2, 2010

It’s interesting how many garden, plant, and related news items pop up on my computer screen.  Here’s a few I’ve seen of late.  

Hoop tunnels helped The White House Garden reap about 50 pounds of produce.  Read the winter garden lessons and watch the harvest video.  I’m still in awe over the fact that The White House has a working, active vegetable garden that helps feed the first family and state visitors.  It’s such a great example.  If you are visiting the D.C. area soon their Spring garden and grounds tours at The White House run April 17-18.

volunteer cherry tomatoes - Copy Any supermarket tomatoes you buy off-season may come from giant propane-heated greenhouses in Maine where multiple varieties are hydroponically-grown, without pesticides, using recycled rain water and extra light fueled by local hydroelectric, and vine-ripened (encouraged by pumped in carbon dioxide). Full story: Giant Greenhouses Mean Flavorful Tomatoes All Year – NYTimes.com.  The one here was a volunteer cherry tomato in my 2009 garden.

Take a peek at the ups and downs of indoor gardening in NYC through Ask About Growing Indoor Plants. I sometimes wonder how this country-girl would handle having to drag bags of potting soil up a 5th-floor walkup or to a roof-top garden.

Iris ensata lavender_edited Read a short interview with British landscape designer Robin Templar Williams, who is apparently making quite a splash here and across the pond.  No wonder … how can you not like someone who lists irises as his fave?

Ever wonder why birds like the berries we plant as much as we do?  They may be seeking out antioxidants.  Migrating birds go for dark, richly colored berries to feed and soothe their travel-starved feathers.  University of Rhode Island scientists suspect antioxidants in these berries – the same compounds that help humans fight stress – may help birds fight the stresses of migration. 

I never cease to be amazed by topics of study, therefore I’m going to try to make this a regular Friday feature.  One, it will force me to read through and summarize all the intriguing news items I see.  Two, you just might enjoy reading about this stuff as much as I.

Gotta love good examples …

blueberries-3 8-09 I’m a fresh fruit and veggie nut and do my best to pass on this love to my family.  Imagine my delight when I received the following text message from our youngest who just started college : u r gonna be so proud of me … I just ate lunch at a farmers market … amazing fresh veggies everywhere.  YES!  He’s enjoying the wonders of finding fresh, locally grown produce in the middle of a city … and now I know he will continue to seek out and enjoy fresh fruit and veggies, much like his older siblings.  Growing up in a rural area in a family that gardens certainly increases the likelihood that children will learn to enjoy fresh produce.  So many kids grow to adulthood knowing only the fruits and veggies found in cans or frozen plastic bags – if they eat fruit and veggies at all.

This is one of the main reasons the progress of the White House Kitchen Garden is so important.  The first lady is setting an example for the country – she’s helping to make fresh produce cool.  She’s encouraging kids to learn where their food comes from, the contents of the stuff they ingest as food, and understand that fresh is best.  (Read more about the WH Garden on one of my favorite blogs, Obama Foodorama)

Roma plum tomatoesBut seeing local kids work in the White House garden, and hearing the First Lady speak about the garden does not have the same impact as growing, touching, caring for, and eating locally grown food.  The Department of Agriculture is doing its bit with its People’s Garden, and is encouraging other USDA offices across the country to also transform spots on their office properties to a garden of some sort.  Now it seems there might be more opportunity for youngsters and their parents to touch and feel fresh veggies and fruits during visits near the White House.  A group called Fresh Farm Markets has apparently applied to operate a farmer’s market on Vermont Avenue near the White House.  The more farmer’s markets sprout up here and there, the better chance everyone has of being exposed to the wonders of fresh … and the greater chance other parents will get a text, I just ate lunch at a farmers market … amazing fresh veggies everywhere.

P6140099_edited I’ll keep these happy thoughts in mind while I finish my tasks at hand … freezing the rest of the peaches we picked a few days ago at a local orchard.  And from our own garden there’s an abundance of cucumbers that need pickling and and overflow of finally ripened plum tomatoes that need cooking into sauce.  And for those of you without home gardens, there’s bound to be a farmer’s market or two and some farm stands nearby … just visit BuyCTGrown.