Front Yard Veggies

You can’t grow everything you eat, but you can eat everything you grow…

Archive for White House

White House Garden Quiz

I am obviously a little obsessed with the garden.  But not obsessed enough!! i only got an 86% on an online quiz about it!!!!

See well how you can do.


White House Garden Update Update

Yes, they did have the planting day, and it was with the same kids who helped dig up the patch of lawn a couple weeks ago.  Apparently, they will have them return yet again and cook some of the food and eat it together.  That is cool.  A few notes:

  1. The emphasis that Michelle is putting on the symbolism of the kids’ participation is simply fantastic along with the connection to eating the food they grow.
  2. Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture, was present for the planting.  That is really a big deal, because the Dept. of Ag. has largely been focused on the politics of food growers, whereas his presence at this event emphasizes the politics of food consumers.
  3. I love this last little picture, because it captures what I have striven for in my garden and the garden at my daughter’s elementary school.  Grow things that are visceral: good taste, good smell and visually appealing, because that is what gets embedded in a kid’s mind and becomes the memory and guidepost for the adult in later years.
  4. Uh, it is nice to see Mrs. Obama wearing something more akin to grubby clothes for the gardening.  Turning over the sod in her black dress last time was just not right.

White House Gardening Update

Apparently, today is the day!  I will update as I find out anything!

Thursday, April 9: The First Lady will host an event in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House to plant the garden. She will be joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and students from Bancroft Elementary, the school that participated in the groundbreaking of the Garden on March 20th. Students from the school will return later this year for harvesting and cooking with the food grown.

notes on White House Veggie Garden Layout

I think that it is instructive to look at what the layout of the WHVG (White House Veggie Garden) tells us about how it will be used.  This is probably interesting from a political standpoint, but I am much more interested in it from a kitchen gardener’s standpoint.  Here is the layout as provided to the NY Times

As you can see, they are planting just a few types of veggies:



chard, kale & collards

snap peas/shell peas


shallots & onions


rhubarb, radishes & carrots

Interestingly, the “tender greens”, lettuce and spinach compose like 50% of the planting with another 20% given to “hard” greens like chard, kale and collards.  Interesting for two reasons.  First, if you have read “In Defense of Food” as you should have, you will know that eating greens is one of the most healthy things that you can do for your diet.  Second, fresh lettuce and arugula has been an absolute revelation to me about why one should have a kitchen garden.  With a relatively small amount of attention, one can grow lettuce that is absolutely far and away superior to anything that you can buy.  I will post shortly on how I like growing lettuces.  The short version is that scattering seeds for baby lettuce is much easier and tastier than growing lettuce to full head maturity, especially in drier climates like So. Cal.

Lots of fresh peas as well, and certainly I find that snap peas are a favorite of mine and my kids in the garden.  It provides a quick, sweet, clean vegetable flavor that I can enjoy anytime I go out there.  I think of it as the “gateway” vegetable for kids.  It doesn’t need to be washed and it is so darn sweet.

Lastly, there is quite a large section reserved for fennel and for herbs.  I can’t say a lot about fennel, so I won’t.  But as I have made clear before, havning an abundant supply of fresh herbs is the first thing that anyone who wants to improve the flavor of their cooking  should do, hands down.

So, I think that the emphasis on soft greens, peas and herbs reflects the thinking of someone who really knows what a kitchen garden is really good at providing.

Hurray!! The White House is Planting a Kitchen Garden!!

Well, it is apparently official!  The White House at Michelle Obama’s instigation will be putting in a 1000 square foot vegetable garden.  They are planning on having it a visible part in the menu planning for the first family.

This is a huge victory for the Eat the View campaign. Congratulations to visionary, Roger Doiron!!

I must say that I find myself slightly let down.  I am, of course, thrilled as I look at the symbolism of the first kitchen garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden 70 years ago.  But at 1000 square feet, they are only putting in 4 times as much growing area as I have.  They could do so much more and make the kitchen garden produce a main feature of a wider range of official dinners and functions.  Of course, I see why this is both unnecessary and unpriortized.  First, they do have about 1 trillion things on their mind right now!  Second, outside of pretensious food snobs like myself and others that I can think of, the mere fact that Michelle is taking the public initiative to have a garden, talk about it in terms of nutrition and even publicly describe the cost of seeds and soil as only being $200, I think is exactly the kind of public face that garden-based nutrition needs.

So, rock on Obamas!!