Here was the headlines on NBC news;
First lady breaks ground on 'kitchen garden' Students will help plant fruits, vegetables to supply White House kitchen
At the end of the article it said this:
Mrs. Obama then led a cheer with the children, shouting, "Let's hear it for vegetables!" and "Let's hear it for fruits!"
This has prompted me to speak out. I agree Gardens are wonderful and more people should take up vegetable gardening. Some important issues need to come forward. It's not easy to garden. some points in case. If you see video of Mrs. Obama's school group they are digging, but do you see they are digging in the lawn, the grass. Oh my are there some difficult issues with gardening in a plot surrounded by lawn. Next point all that fuss over vegetables and fruits being planted didn't in any way include planting those fruit trees. At first I thought the media missed that all she was planning on planting was vegetables and herbs but no she has the kids yelling for vegetables and fruits, which come from trees after all! Don't we know where fruits come from?
There is so much our nation no longer knows about gardening. There has been a lot of reference to the Victory gardens grown during World War II. We are different as a population now. Never before has more people lived in the City for longer times. We have lost touch with our agriculture genes! We don't even know who grows our food or if it's even safe.
Am I crying doom here? NO just a warning. If you think in all this excitement with the falling of our economy that you will save money with a big garden you are WRONG. If you think that growing a garden will give you some good things to eat you are RIGHT. Garden for the right reasons. There are no Victories in Victory Gardens. All you do is put some other business OUT OF Business. During the War the farms in our nation were needed to supply the war effort. We have taken this out of context. Gardening now should be about safe and tasty food for our families.
It is not easy to grow food. Learn all that you can and even then you will not have a great first year in many cases. Here are some suggestions on what you need to learn.
1. What growing zone are you in? Don't try to grow citrus outside the citrus zone. Learn what grows best in your climate and stick with that while you are learning to garden.
2. I recommend container gardening for a good start. It lets you control a few more things, like is my garden in the best place.....in a container.....move it. It lets you work without big tools like a rotor tiller which you may not have. A little hand shovel is all you need with a container. It uses less enrichment's. Just a good way to start so consider containers!
3. Buying any package of seed may not be useful for your needs. I promise to address seeds soon but if you can't harvest a few seeds for next year what good is a garden? I plant only seeds that are non-hybrid and reproducible. Yes if you have a favorite sweet pea that is hybrid surely buy and plant it, but my food I have to be able to keep it going with out the expense of buying seed each year.4. Learn what to do about your soil, the bugs, water, sun, shade and be sure you have time for keeping the garden weeded, fed (yes you need to keep feeding a food garden) and then when harvesting more beans than you know how to eat learn what to do with them to eat them in the non-growing times.
5. Work on a plan and have an idea of what you will plant, how long it needs to grow, when it needs to be planted to avoid frost on both sides of the calendar. Be sure to plant at those times best for each plant.Does this seem like a lot to think about? OUCH! If you think so then let me tell you to encourage the local growers in your own area. Buy from them, pay a fair price, tell them you want organic, let them know you are glad they have the knowledge to grow your food and be glad they do. Find that spot that the locals sell their food, flea markets, street corners, the valley over the hill. Find these hard working people selling their food.
You may be very successful in gardening and that is my hope but many of you never grew up with a garden and may have no idea what to watch out for and how to make it work. Keep at it year after year and you will get good at it but please don't put a bunch of money you don't have into a garden that you are not ready to take care of. Give those smaller container gardens a try. Grow some lettuces, carrots, garlic, green onions etc and next year try a few more things. Be a success at gardening..
There is more to come I promise to reward you for putting up with my warnings!