From the Garden.

Kerri planting strawberries. Photo by Christopher.

Kerri planting strawberries. Photo by Christopher.

I am attempting a garden again. Of course, with the last effort becoming a mid morning snack for the dogs, I have had to rethink my strategy.  We have two large garden beds that were here when we moved in, but we still haven’t gotten around to building a fence. So, instead, I am patio gardening.

I dragged Christopher to a garden store last weekend and then made a second trip on my own to get what I needed. We now have planters all over, filled with compost and seeds. Christopher pointed out that I did not need to show him the progress of the arugula (which has already sprouted) three times within seventeen hours. But I can’t help it. I am fascinated by watching it all grow. I check on it several times a day.

It is interesting, though, how far removed we are from the foods we eat. Many people, including us, don’t even know which produce is in season in their area, or what their food looks like when it is coming up out of the ground.

Last night we watched a movie called “Our Daily Bread“. There is no narration and no dialogue, but it is beautifully shot and shows the machines and factories that produce our food. While humans are involved in the process, there are few. Which may be why we don’t know what our food looks like.

When my niece Kylie was about three or four she laughed at the idea of eating plants, and was surprised to learn that some of her favorite foods, tomatoes and cucumbers, fit that category. At one point she told me that eating birds was silly, not making the connection between chickens and the chicken on her plate.

I’m not the only one trying my hand at gardening. This week, Michelle Obama began work on an organic garden on the South Lawn of the White House.  The plan is for the items that they grow to become a part of what they eat. This is the first official effort of this kind on Pennsylvania Avenue since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden.

Today there were two articles in the New York Times related to food issues. “Is the Food Revolution in Season” talks about food sustainability and organic farming, as well as the availability and associated costs.  Another article,”Eating Food That’s Better,Whether it is Organic Or Not,” talks about how people seem to believe that eating organic is the equivalent of being healthy, without taking into consideration that junk food can be organic.

I called my grandma today for her strawberry pie recipe. She told me about a patch of strawberries that she and my grandpa had for a few years and she is certain that one year she had almost eighty pounds worth of berries. I don’t expect that I can be quite the gardener that my grandpa was, but I am looking forward to my arugula.

– Kerri



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12 responses to “From the Garden.

  1. Really suprised to see Ms Obama start an old-school row garden that wastes water, offers poor yields, promotes topsoil erosion, and reduces oxygen producing grass.

    Its a shame that they didn’t read on modern gardening and install a nice square-foot garden. A square-foot garden uses 20% of the space and 10% of the water of a traditional garden, but with 100% of the yield. Not to mention they look far nicer.

    Its much easier to convince Americans to install a 3- or 4-foot box of food than the monstrosity they’re building in the South Lawn. Especially since theres no digging or tilling involved.

    Also, the WH garden is not organic as it doen’t meet federal standards for organic. Use of the the term organic by the WH is likely a violation of federal law.

  2. jen

    i’m sick from just looking at the pictures of “Our Daily Bread”. Its just traumatizing to see pictures like that because I see animals very similar to how I see humans, with feelings, the ability to love and raise one another, and with instincts just like us. Does it portray the animal industry as removed and corrupt or does it just seem normal how we raise and kill them?

  3. muttslikeme

    Love the image of the patio gardening. The Obama garden press has been great for getting the word out there and encouraging those of us who want to eat “closer to the ground” instead deeper from the food processors.

    In fact, the Obamas have been terrific for just getting real in a lot of ways. At least we can believe what they say is well intended and not self-serving. Barack got real here when he mutted himself

    Thankful for the changes, grateful for the possibilities. Eating better and fresher helps keep the thinking clear too!

  4. I am not a vegetarian, and at this point in my life I doubt that I will become one.

    I do wish that I had been raised by vegetarian parents. If I hadn’t had meat when I was growing up it wouldn’t have been a big deal to keep doing without it.

    I do remember being a child and understanding for the first time that fried chicken was actually pieces of dead chickens. Before that it was just a word, just sounds that didn’t really make any sense. And then it was something ugly, something that I didn’t want. But I was just a kid and I couldn’t cook, and I had to eat whatever my mother made for us. And by that time I figured out that it would be a hard thing to do. After you figure out that fried chicken is made out of chickens you figure out that half the stuff you like to eat is made from some dead animal and it would be hard to give up all of it.

  5. Great article!
    Wher did you find that This Michelle Obama began work on an organic garden on the South Lawn of the White House? Very intrasting fact

  6. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  7. julie

    1. You have idenitified your garden sabatour – dog. Mine is nematodes and birds. Each has their own solution.

    2. I think it is great that you are doing container gardening. You are developing your repretoir. The journey to the major gardening is just that a journey – enjoy it.

    3. From the looks of it Michele Obama does not look like she has been in a garden much. Normally I would say – she should start with container gardening. But, her project is to get these kids involed and she has a master gardener behind the scenes and she should go big. White House has people to feed!

    4. Strawberries – you are torturing me! You can not grow strawberries easliy in Houston. The fail to set. They produce the flower the little green strawberry peeps out and the it disentergrates.

    5. My grandmother had all sorts of berries on the edge of her property. Buckets full. The snakes thought the berries were pretty good too. (My fathers story).

    6. Do not forget Gazapcho – summer is comming you know.

    7. Arugula is so much more of a strong taste when you grow it at home vs getting it from the store. It get bitter after it bolts (grows little flowers)

    8. Do not forget lots of basil – smells great in the summer.

    Love your blog. Have turned on many to your site is Houston


  8. I just saw a news segment on the other experiment last night. A little web searching brought me to your site. Thanks for blogging.

    You can do so much with container gardening. I got around so many apartment and condo rules just by potting my gardening attempts. The worse problems I had with a container garden were pesky digging squirrels and drying summer heat. I was able to detour the squirrels with ground black pepper sprinkled on the plants and soil. The drying summer heat was controlled by well grouped plants to shade pots, compost, and a determination to use as much gray water as possible.

    I’m finally in a home with a yard I get to decide how it is used. I’m slowly experimenting with different vegetables and researching what fruit trees will do well in my area. I hope to not only grow some of our own food for my own spiritual well being and connection to the earth but to also show my children where our food comes from and respect the work that goes into getting it to their plates. Last year’s less was when there are no acorns the squirrels will eat almost everything in your garden. The zucchini and lettuce were the only things they didn’t consume.

    You are going to run into some problems but hopefully none that will keep you from keep trying.
    Good luck,

  9. You might want to check out the book Fresh Food From Small Places: The Square Inch Gardener’s Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting, by R. J. Ruppenthal (Chelsea Green Publishing).

  10. After reading through the article, I just feel that I need more information on the topic. Could you share some resources please?

  11. Cristi Brewer-Allen

    I am suprised and somewhat sad that many children today do not know what popcorn is or where it comes from. In a kindergarten class we made popcorn (the old fashion way)….they really thought it came from a bag, out of the microwave. They had no idea it was from a plant.

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