spring has sprung

Happy first day of spring! And this seems like an appropriate time for my annual getting-ready-to-garden post. And it also coincides well with the news that Michelle Obama plans to turn part of the White House lawn into a vegetable garden. This will be the first vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt's victory garden during World War II.

There's a group of food activists, including Michael Pollan and Alice Waters, who've been encouraging the Obamas to consider this idea and I'm glad to hear that they've decided to go ahead with it.

I am disappointed that they won't be planting beets (because Barack doesn't like them); obviously he's never tried the baby variety like the one I'm going to plant this year. Even if you don't like the root part, the greens are so good sauteed in a little olive oil and garlic. Yum!

veggie seeds

Our garden this year will be kind of basic with the usual peas, spinach, lettuce (several varieties), cucumbers, beets, green beans, carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes. We'll try growing corn again, although maybe not as many plants—I like corn but not every day! Herbs, of course. I always grow lots of cilantro and basil—both Italian and Thai.

And that's a point I want to make. While I have space for a big garden and the White House garden will be huge in comparison to mine, maybe you don't have much space to work with. That's OK. Just start somewhere. You'd be surprised what you can grow in just a few pots on your porch. Or even a windowsill in your kitchen. No matter how small some of the places I've lived have been, I always managed to grow something.

It will be a few weeks until we get started with planting. Peas will be first and conventional wisdom around here is that you plant them on Good Friday. That's what we'll do. And since we're still getting light frost in the mornings I'm happy to wait a few weeks.


tired of smiling said...

ohhhh... I can't wait!!
conventional wisfon where I live is to plant the weekend after mother's day at the very earliest. I'm so Jealous that you will begin next month!
Happy Gardening!

janet said...

Unfortunately, peas are about the only thing that can be planted in April. Maybe some of the lettuces and cool weather things if we're lucky. We sometimes get snow for Easter :)

Puanani said...

I have been in the garden for days! We just built two new beds and I will try to grow corn for the first time. Any hints?

sarasophia said...

I am completely inspired.
Perhaps we won't be able to do much more than a few tomatoes, peppers and herbs in pots but--that is something!

<3 sarasophia

janet said...

Tomatoes, peppers, and herbs are perfect for pots! You don't even have to start with seeds—just buy plants at a garden center and you're halfway there.

Tips for corn? We first tried it in long rows but they didn't have enough support. Last year we made blocks and planted seeds in a grid pattern--this really helped because they held each other up as they grew taller. And don't plant all your seeds at once. Do what's called succession planting and space them about a week or so apart. Otherwise you'll have way too much corn all ripe at the same time. I actually do this with a lot of things I plant, Unless you have a big family and know you'll eat it all quickly.

Camilla said...

This is so timely- i've been feeling glum about not having a garden, or my allotment anymore, but this has reminded me of the potential for tomatoes and windowsills!

I second your tip for corn- it's always best to plant corn in blocks as they need to be near each other to pollinate, you can grown squash underneath them as well, and french beans can use them to climb up if you want to get the most from your space.

janet said...

I forgot to mention allotments, or community gardens as they're usually called here in the US. A town near me started one last year and it's been very popular. At the end of the season they donated the leftover produce to a local food bank that feeds the hungry.

Each gardener gets their own space in the garden and can plant whatever they like. They need to visit regularly for weeding, watering and general maintenance but it's a great solution if they don't have space of their own at home. I honestly don't know why this isn't more popular.

Another idea might be to share space with a friend who has room for a garden. Believe me, sharing in the weeding would be much appreciated :)

Melody said...

Hi Janet!
Your garden sounds delish. You can't plant here in the Cincy area til Mother's Day weekend. We have had snow and ice before in past Aprils. Hot beds ( raised beds with windows over the tops) are popular for cold weather crops around here. For produce like beans or other trailing varieties, If you have no room try a trellis or tomato cage for them to climb in a pot. Cherry tomatoes can be trained to grow in a hanging basket Last fall I ordered a Michigan Bulb Co. catalog for this Spring..still haven't gotten it, but I love to browse Lowe's and Walmart, they make me feel all springy.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone is happy with the current administration so it might be thoughtful to not include politics in your blog.

janet said...

Thanks for commenting Anonymous but you know what? This is my blog and because it's mine I can talk about anything I like. If you think my mentioning a vegetable garden at the White House is talking about politics then I think you're being oversensitive. There are at least a million blogs you could be visiting so perhaps you should find another to read that you don't find so offensive.

Camilla said...

couldn't agree more Janet- this is your blog and you post whatever you feel like!