We should all take some inspiration from the First Lady's passion for healthy living and healthy eating. Thanks to Mrs. Obama, people across the country have revisited the American tradition of starting a vegetable garden at home. In fact, on March 20, 2009, with students from a local elementary school, First Lady Michelle Obama broke ground on the first vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden during World War II. Today, the garden is planted, tended and harvested by Mrs. Obama, White House staff, the National Park Service and visitors alike.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a great way to learn about nutrition and incorporate healthful, fresh and seasonal foods into your favorite meals. Even if you don't consider yourself a proficient gardener, with very little effort, the right tools and easy-to-follow instructions you will be on your way to having a green thumb.
Here are four tips to help your garden grow:
- Where will you grow your garden? If you have land and a sunny plot where your vegetables could grow, then that solves that. If you don’t have the space, you may consider container gardening on your porch or balcony or even your kitchen window sill.
- Consider the sunlight. A good gardening space receives at least six hours of sunlight per day plus has a water source. Keep this in mind when you choose your gardening space.
- Plant seasonally. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Office as a resource for finding out which crops are specific to your local growing region.
- Match the crop with the environment. Different plants require different growing environments. Tomatoes, for example, are heat-loving plants that need a long warm growing period and require germinating and growing seedlings in the warm indoors in early spring. Then when it warms up outdoors in late spring, the hearty well-established seedlings can be planted in the outdoors.
I suggest you read the book American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. It details the First Lady’s trials and tribulations with the famous White House garden plus contains helpful hints for starting your own vegetable garden such as how-to information about seed spacing, irrigation, soil types, and the right time to plant various vegetables.
Whether you choose to plant a small window herb garden or a 20-foot plot filled with veggies, be sure to incorporate your home-grown produce into your daily diet. The health benefits of growing your own foods are endless!