Friday, March 20, 2009

Le Sigh

Le Sigh: Michelle Obama, how I heart you. Not since WWII has the White House had a kitchen garden (or, when Eleanor Roosevelt established it--against the Agriculture Department's wishes--a "Victory Garden.")

The 1,100-square-foot garden will include 55 kinds of vegetables, including peppers, spinach and, yes, arugula. (The selection is a wish list put together by White House chefs.) There will also be berries, herbs and two hives for honey that will be tended by a White House carpenter who is also a beekeeper. The chefs will use the produce to feed the first family, as well as for state dinners and other official events.

The White House will use organic seedlings, as well as organic fertilizers and organic insect repellents. The garden will be near the tennis courts and be visible to passersby on the street. The whole Obama family will be involved in tending the garden, White House spokeswoman Katie McCormick Lelyveld said.

Proponents of the garden see the move as a victory for fresh, wholesome food. With the Obamas as role models, it could also be a turning point in their battle to overturn the perception of organic food, farmers markets and gardens as the preserves of the elite.

I love the fact that Michelle is making healthy food, organic food, and home-grown food part of her healthy families platform. I spent about four hours today preparing my garden for planting on this THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING. I'm also pleased that in the Washington Post article about the White House Kitchen Garden that there was not one fat-shaming comment which seems rare when discussing anything health and food issues in the mainstream press.

I'm a big supporter of home gardening and community gardens--I think that growing our own food helps us to make connections between what is really food and what is manufactured dreck. In addition, its good exercise and it is as local as you can get. Also, I'm not a crazy survivalist or anything, but I like to know how things work and how I might be able to get a bit off the grid as it were.

I'll have several more posts about my garden (and pictures) as it progresses. Here in Kentucky, a good rule is to not plant anything outdoors until after Derby Weekend, but indoor seed starting will begin on my part pretty soon. Also, soil preparation is well underway. Today I spead some compost and organic manure on my old plot from last year--I'm expanding this year. Last year, to get rid of the grass, I really depleated the soil by simply digging and chucking the grass. I didn't have a cultivator (I have a smallish one now). So, that area in particular needs more organic matter and nitrogen (I've also added some organic blood meal--I know, doesn't it all sound gross?). Tomorrow, I'm going to plant some Peonies and Clematis(es) in the front yard. Its okay to plant those now, just not vegetable crops yet. I'm going to have the Peony Bushes grow along my front fence and the Clematis(es) will grow up over the front porch supports--near where I'm hoping that my hydrangeas will come back from last Spring. I suspect that one out of three of the hydrangeas took (plus the one in the back yard).

Anywho, I'm going to apply manure to the new Peonies as well as soil suitable for shrubs when I plant and then I'll cover with mulch. The weather is supposed to stay between 40-60 for the next ten days or so, then get even warmer. I just hope that there isn't a major dip in temperatures, but according to the gardening books and the directions on the plants, March planting is appropriate for the Peonies and Clematis(es).

Later I may also spread more manure on the back garden, though I also need to attend to my apple trees pretty soon--and that means buying mucho multcho. Oh, and I bought a wheel barrow today--it was hell getting it in the car, but its shiny and red and I love it!

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