Friday, September 26, 2008

The First Garden... in White House, not Garden of Eden.

The Garden of Eatin': A Short History of America's Garden from roger doiron on Vimeo.

Found this little video through my Local Harvest newsletter...thought it was pretty cool. There are a couple of other fun, insightful videos at this site, too, including this one that is an encouragement for our next president to re-institute a garden at the White House. 

I found it interesting that the decline of White House vegetable gardening (and probably gardens of the general populous) corresponded with the passing of the National Highway Act back in the '50s. Suddenly, our food could travel, so why grow it? Sad.

I have fond memories of our garden when I was growing up. My dad, born in 1918, lived through The Depression era of the 1930s, and even before that, families pretty much just had gardens, at least if they lived in the country, which my dad did. I don't remember my dad ever having a bad gardening year. Ever. I'm sure maybe he did, but all I remember was there were always tomatoes to be canned and cucumbers and fresh lettuce and onions and radishes and eggplant. He was good at the garden, and I love that memory of him.

My husband comes from a family of garden-planters, too. Thus we've always had a garden here at our house. It's usually been his thing, as I do not naturally seem to possess the green-thumb my dad had. I tried this year, though...I had my little salad garden, which was more or less successful in that we did indeed eat salad from it, at least for a while, until the chard when haywire and took over and the weeds then sprung up over night and I was overwhelmed by the whole darned thing. I meant to rip it out mid-season and try again...I got as far as ripping, but I never replanted. But at least I tried!

Our large garden that my husband does wasn't so successful this year, either. Weather issues aside, him breaking his ankle this summer was not helpful. He couldn't keep up with the weeds and he never got the electric fence up. And since we no longer have a dog outside to scare them off, the deer pretty much had a field day romping through the garden and eating off the tops of the pepper plants. And the ground hogs dined well on the tomatoes. 

We did get a good crop of garlic, though, and a few peppers, and there are still potatoes to be dug. Once the tomatoes finally began to ripen, I managed to can a couple batches, but there was a high rate of rot on them this year, so for every one I picked, I probably pitched one or two over the hill. There plants are dying off now, so I need to go down and pick through one last time to glean whatever non-fetid, ripe tomatoes are still on the vines. It's sad to see tomato season end so quickly! 

This year, in addition to our own gardening efforts, we bought a half share of my friend Myrna's CSA. I'm so glad we did this, not only to support her farming efforts, but it was so much fun to have a variety of vegetables to cook with and eat throughout the summer. I'm not sure if we'll do the CSA again next year, not because it wasn't worthwhile, but because I'm hoping Kevin and I can work together to plan a better garden for ourselves. We've got the space to do it, so it seems silly not to.

I'm not a person who closely follows current events, but even someone as news deprived as myself hasn't missed the rumblings about the current economic crisis. I have no idea what the answer to that is...I honestly don't believe that either political party has a foolproof answer to it. Like most major issues, it's not something that happened over night, and there is no quick fix to it. But it is kind of mind-boggling to me that here we are, almost 100 years after The Great Depression, and we seem to be right back in that kind of predicament. That truly sucks.

However, I am one who always tries to look for the positives. Where there is a cloud, there is a silver lining, right? If the current economic situation prompts more people to take a  closer look at their food shopping habits and gets them to consider buying their foods more seasonally and locally or, better yet, growing their own, that would a very good thing for everyone.

So, if you're looking for something to do this winter, why not spend some time planning a garden for your family next spring? You don't need a lot of space. Container gardening is a great option for people without a big yard. And if you have no yard, check into community gardening with others in your area. Or support a local farm by purchasing a share in a CSA (you can find one through the Local Harvest web site). 

Just to get you started, a couple of my favorite gardening books are:

The Garden Primer, by Barbara Damrosch
Four-Season Harvest, by Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch

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