Monday, March 23, 2009

Gardening to return to a healthier life

America is facing crisis on several fronts. Our economy is spiraling downward with no bottom in sight. Many people have lost their jobs or are fearful they will. We're all cutting back financially and saving for the bad news we expect is coming.

And if there wasn't already enough stress in our lives, in the last few years there have been numerous outbreaks of illness and sometimes deaths resulting from the unsafe growing and handling of commercial foods. Add to this the likelihood of poison residue on vegetables and in the water and soil. No wonder many of us are left doubting our country's food supply.

The perfect time for the nations First Lady to reintroduce an idea that was popular during other times of crisis in this country. Growing our own vegetables and fruits. Victory Gardens.

In 1943 Eleanor Roosevelt encouraged a return to the “victory gardens” that had become popular during the first world war when the country faced food shortages. Mrs Roosevelt planted a garden at the White House and some 20-million Americans followed her lead, By the end of the war individual gardens grew 40% of the nation’s vegetables. After the war in 1946 people abruptly stopped planting and the commercial growing of vegetables exploded.



Now we have Mrs Obama suggesting we go back to home gardens to save money and to live healthier lives. We have the president of Burpee Seed telling us a $70 investment in seed will reap a $600 reward in produce. I hope this idea is taking root in the minds of a lot of Americans. The message is clear, we can learn to garden, we can eat better and we can eat safer. I also hope the White House gardening staff sets a great example for us all by using safe organic methods of growing food.

I'm not sure what the First Lady and her friends are doing in the photo above. It looks like they are raking thatch but that can't be right. Mrs. O, you need gloves and better boots. You'll have blisters tonight. Do you suppose the fellows in white coats are from the White House Kitchens? Well, whatever they're doing, they look like they're having a good time. I plan to follow Mrs Obama's lead and plant more produce in my garden this year.

47 comments:

Sweet Repose said...

I'm right there with ya...I'm having the guys save my prairie topsoil as they dig for my septic system. This will triple the size of my veggy garden, more tomaters to can. My green beans were wonderful last year, as were the cabbages and sno peas...yumm, can't wait for the sun to warm my sandy loamy soil. Although my Granny always planted her peas in March, hoping for spring rains to set them early...she had the best!

Kuddos to the Whitehouse...but boy would I get those clothes dirty...jeans and grubby t's for me and always work gloves, blisters are brutal!

Happy spring!

sharon

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

I, too, am thrilled that this idea has finally started to 'bloom'. Since I live in northern VA I've read about it and watched it on the news...I really hope the local food pantries benefit from it, and that it serves as a model for others across the nation to follow;-) I'm going to try to do what I can to grow some veggies here, too.

tina said...

I saw that the Whitehouse took the dive and made 1000 sq foot garden on the south lawn. I was so happy! Told the hubby too. Also told him how much money my little garden produce is worth, he wasn't buying. That's okay, we like it fresh. I know yours will do stunning! How sweet it is to pick your own homegrown veggies.

keewee said...

Besides saving on the budget, there is nothing better than your own homegrown veggies, straight from the garden and on your table very soon after. There is the taste of the produce and the satisfaction of having grown the veggies yourself knowing no harmful chemicals were used on them.

Nan and =^..^= said...

Wonderful post, we've been thinking along the same lines... My husband is a great organic gardener. We've always had a big perennial garden and now the concentration is on growing vegetables...much to learn. He's out collecting seaweed at the beach for fertilizer. We could use some advice about how to store the vegetables in the fall so they last. I have always painted the garden and don't have the knowledge and experience that he has for gardening. I will have to learn!
Right now the ground is still frozen and the temp is 26 degees!

Jamie and Randy said...

Unfortunately, we don't have room for a vegetable garden now with all the planting we’ve done. I really need to try and find a place to squeeze in a few tomatoes at the very least. As a youngster we always had a garden and I hated picking peas and butterbeans, I wish I had the land for a nice garden now.

Dog_geek said...

Ha - that photo is a little perplexing - what ARE they doing? We weren't originally going to plant a garden this year, but then my mother-in-law asked us about letting her plant in our garden to not only grow food to eat, but also food to give to the local food pantry. Heck - we've got plenty of room, so why not? Over the weekend, Mr. Geek plowed up the garden space and got it ready, so I guess we are a "go" for a victory garden!

Gail said...

Marnie, Love this post! Even a staged photo is a good photo if it means that there will be a garden at the White House! I planted Rainbow Swiss Chard in the garden...it looks beautiful and tastes delicious. Next my herbs go in and tomatoes in containers. They have to live on the sunny driveway! Any other suggestions for container vegies? gail

Anonymous said...

They shouldn't be called 'Victory Gardens' this time around because they will have to be forever, as in a permanent lifestyle/mindset change.

As a backhanded tribute, we could call them "Bush Gardens",

a tip of the hat to luxury extravagant pointless theme parks and callous, clueless former leaders.

walk2write said...

It's about time some of that pampered lawn serves a useful purpose. An acre or so planted with veggies would be even better, especially if they're planning on using the produce to feed hundreds of guests and not just the family. I was surprised to learn that even Carter, the peanut farmer, declined the chance to grow vegetables at the White House. Apparently, he thought it detracted from the formality of the place. Well hooray for the O's embracing informality as well as good nutrition!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hey Sharon, at first I thought the same thing not clothes to garden in. Then I thought those are probably the 'old clothes' of a big city lawyer. You just know she doesn't own any grubby jeans. I don't care if she wears designer boot to hoe weeds;)

Hi Jan, I hope everybody, pantries, kids, adults gives it a try and starts eating healthy, home grown food.

Tina, other than my tomatoes and strawberries, I've gotten lazy these last few years. Mrs O has inspired me to do better.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Keewee you are so right. The stuff you buy cannot compare to fresh picked veggies or fruit.

Hi Nan, it's great you have the extra room. I know your season must be sorter than ours but we can still grow lots of different things.

Hi Jamie and Randy, I have lots of friends that grow a few tomatoes in with their ornamentals.

DogGeek, it will be great to have your Mother-in-law lend a hand. With three of you it won't be so hard.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Gail, I've never eaten swiss chard but it looks beautiful. I've grown lettuce in window boxes. With three or four cheap plastic boxes you can plant every week or two and keep that lettuce coming. I've grown strawberries in window boxes too. I experimented with tomatoes in 5-gal pots but it was hard. When they started producing I could hardly keep enough water on them. Peas and beans don't take up as much room if grown on a fence.

Anonymous, somehow I couldn't get onboard with 'Bush Garden' even in jest. I might call it the 'Recovery from Bush Garden'.

Walk2Write, I guess a vegetable garden doesn't say snobbish wealth and intellectualism like acres of lawn;) I doubt if the O's will feed themselves and a lot of guests on one 1000 foot garden but the thought is there. Now, what can we do to get her to plant a few apple trees and some brambles?

Marnie

flowergardengirl said...

I remember my grandma had a victory garden in her tiny backyard. We always had something fresh on the table every day of the year. She canned a lot of stuff. She also traded or swapped her excess with another neighbor. She didn't grow corn and they didn't grow beans. So they shared.

sweet bay said...

I love the idea of growing more of my own food, but have often thought I would starve if I did. :( I didn't hardly get any tomatoes last year, believe it or not. Not even enough for salsa!

We need to attach the plow to the tractor and create a *real* vegetable garden...

Roses and Lilacs said...

FlowerGardenGirl, that was an excellent idea your grandmother had. It's hard to find space to grow all the things a family eats but trading is a good way for neighbors to help each other out.

Marnie

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Yes Marnie, even I will be planting some veggies this year. Can't wait. BTW I loved your comment about the magnolia "being like a canopy of spring over the garden". It truly is that. We have had a good spring for magnolias, dry and no frost for awhile.

Roses and Lilacs said...

SweetBay, tomatoes are probably the hardest thing to grow. Don't let it get you down. Check out this forum for help on growing tomatoes. Maybe someone will have a tip that helps:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/tomato/

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Lisa, I always remember my Dad's love of magnolias whenever I see them. I should plant one in his honor. The blooms are so delicate and lovely.
Marnie

joey said...

Great post, Marnie, and though I agree they are setting an excellent example, I'm with you on Mrs. O's blisters! I was delighted to visit the White House gardens several years ago at this time when the cherry blossoms were in bloom. Most memorable since they also had an orchestra on the lawn. I do plant tons of herbs and want to try more lettuces but am gone so much I feel like I'm feeding the entire neighborhood wildlife that devours goodies while I'm away.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Joey, I know what you mean. I don't cook much just for myself. Still, I'm going to grow lots and what I don't eat I'll give away.

I've never been to the White House, maybe someday I'll take a trip and do the DC buildings and museums.
Marnie

June said...

Hi Marnie,
Boy what a great post. I love the home grown veggies. For myself I have a tendency to grow way too much. But like you say we can always give it away. Thank you for the comments you leave me. I love hearing from you.

Kathleen said...

Great post Marnie. I too was thrilled to see Mrs. Obama initiate creating a garden at the White House. I hope it does inspire a zillion more. I doubt she will do much of the gardening so she doesn't need gloves or true work boots but just being the figurehead for this movement is good enough. I had already decided to grow some veggies myself this year (before I saw the spot about her on TV) and I haven't done that in quite a few years either. I definitely think it's time to return to our roots.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I'm very glad the Obamas are setting an example and creating a garden--but is she P. Allen Smith's sister, gardening in "formal" clothes? Ah, well, she'll learn! ;-)

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi June, if we have the room there is no excuse not to grow food, right?
It will be good for us to get in touch with our food sources. As long as it doesn't require killing any live animals.

Hey Kathleen, I know, she probably didn't hold the rake more than 3-minutes. Still, she might as well look like she's doing it right;) Seriously, I won't fault her. Maybe those are her old clothes.

Hi Monica, she could be P. Allen's sister;) At least she isn't wearing 3-inch heals. Oh well, we don't care that it will be the hired help plus volunteers that do the actual work. We only care that the garden stays in the news and the public eye.

Rose said...

Me, too! And I thought Mrs. Obama was a bit over-dressed for the job, as well:) But it's the thought that counts, and I applaud the First Family for initiating this vegetable garden.

Last summer with the tomato salmonella scare, I was so happy to have my own tomatoes. Another good reason for planting your own veggies is to help the green movement. So much of the produce in the supermarkets is shipped in from far away. Last summer I read an article about growing green beans in California or Mexico and the steps in getting them to the supermarket shelves--it took a week! And then you don't know how long they've sat on the shelves at the store. The best "fresh" vegetables come from your own back yard!

Thanks for the offer of the iris--I never pass up a freebie:) I'll e-mail you shortly.

Kim said...

This is a great post and it's a pity our Prime Minister couldn't do something similar, but I couldn't possibly comment on his ability to inspire anything!

The health benefits don't just stop at eating the produce, as this exercise is better than the gym and furthermore, only costs the price of the seeds.

Hope you are feeling better now.

Kim x

Susie said...

Hey Marnie, Last year was the first time I grew veggies and I loved doing it. I got more satisfaction at growing some of my own food. It was fun. I'm planning on doing it again this year.

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

It's a great thing to raise awareness of growing food (and flowers).

I am pretty sure the White House garden won't have to be protected from rabbits and deer! :-)

Cameron

BeadedTail said...

I just heard another news story tonight discussing the benefits of gardening and raising your own vegetables. We've always had a vegetable garden except at this house there isn't a suitable spot for one. It's unfortunate since they grow tomatoes the size of softballs in this part of the country!

TC said...

This is such a timely post Ms. Marnie. It's also the focus of my article for this week's paper out tomorrow. I thought about the same thing you did when I saw the photo of Ms. Michele and the others. I think it's just a photo op, surely they know you have to plant in dirt and not sod. The fellow behind and to the left (her right) of Mrs. Obama is the White House Assistant Chef. And from what I've read, they do indeed plan on having an organic garden.

troutbirder said...

Great post. I put Michelle picture up a few posts back and running out of time just mentioned the garden. You did the job right with some great analysis.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Rose, I agree who knows who and how our food is handled before we buy it. The pesticide is something that worries me a lot too.

Hi Kim, LOL, sounds like our former president. Gardening is good exercise. Prying two rose bushes up and transplanting them had me breathing hard;)

Susie, I agree, home grown food really does taste better but even that doesn't compare with the satisfaction.
Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Cameron, I have a lot of obstacles to garden around but deer and bunnies aren't a major problem. I can not explain why but the deer have come to a truce with the psycho BC. They avoid the yard and she doesn't go into the elder thickets along the creek. BTW, Aggie is outside less than an hour a day unless I'm out working.

That's too bad BeadedTail, I know not everybody has a spot.

LOL TC, the First Family's First Garden will be a success inspite of Mrs O's lack of experience. I'm glad they chose to go organic.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Troutbirder, it's easy to poke a little fun at folks with no gardening experience. In reality Mrs O will certainly have the last laugh. I can see millions of women going out to by black leggings and belted sweater dresses to garden in. She will probably inspire the best dressed generation of gardeners in history.
Marnie

Sweet Repose said...

Had my windows and doors open yesterday al day...glorious...to sit on my porch and listen to the birds and the frogs...ahhhhh, paradise, but they say maybe snow by Sunday...I'm OK with that, I had a little taste, it'll get better soon!

The baby way born healthy yesterday, Mason Sterling...

beckie said...

Marnie, even I am going to grow some container veggies this year. I used to have such a big garden and do canning and freezing when the girls were small, but then got away from it.

Wonderful that the White House lawn is being put to such good use and setting a great example.

Loved this post-you put into words what a lot of us have ben thinking.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hey Sharon, I know. Spring is a tease. I hadn't heard about the snow but that too shall pass.


Hi Beckie, I got away from growing a big food garden when I got divorced and was just cooking for one. I have always planted lot of tomatoes and just give them away at work.

Marnie

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
What a great post! I had thought about writing about the Obama Garden myself, but you beat me to it!

I think we'll expand our Victory Garden a bit this year for some more veggies, since we're going to plant 3 kinds of corn (1 edible, 2 ornamental) and some other veggies we've been wanting to try. I also think I'll do the window box lettuce thing again this year, and Gail reminded me that I want to plant more Rainbow Chard again this year, both ornamentally and edibly.

Gail: if you see this, you can successfully plant peppers in pots, you'll just have to keep them well watered and don't feed them if you want fruit!

Balisha said...

I hadn't seen that picture. I'm all for it.We need people in high places to inspire us sometimes. She seems so "down to earth."

Roses and Lilacs said...

IVG, how do you eat the swiss chard? Do you use the leave in salads or cook them? I've never eaten any but they look pretty;)

Hi Balisha, Mrs O does seem like 'regular people'. She wants people to eat healthy but she doesn't talk down to them. Her clothes are 'designer' but some no-name designers from Chicago. She appears to be a grounded individual.

Marnie

Gayle@Mountain Moma said...

I've been thinking of doing a vegetable garden this year as well. I just wish I had someone to help me, I'm not too sure on where to begin.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Marnie,
The chard can be used a lot like spinach and as long as you use the smaller leaves you can just wilt them with a dressing (you know, the old vinegar, sugar and bacon one?). If you use the bigger leaves you need to steam them or blanch them a bit because they are a bit tougher ... I think nutritionally they're pretty good for you too.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Gayle, good luck with your veggie garden. If you have questions, you can always ask them on your blog or ask any of your blogging buddies;)

Thanks IVG, I think I'll try a couple of the fancy ones. I read you can use the ribs of young leaves much like celery. I'll just jump in and see what happens. Have to admit I'm not a fan of spinach.

Marnia

The Birdlady said...

I wish I could plant a few vegetables - HOA frowns on anything natural! Green grass and white plastic fences, but no meadows or veggies! At least I don't get grief about my bird feeders!

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