Monday, March 23, 2009
Breaking New Ground
It was a wonderful thing to see First Lady Obama and some kids starting a vegetable garden at the White House. I can imagine her first garden journal entry…”Sure was fun starting the garden. Kids had fun. Need to get better gardening clothes… maybe some bib overalls and decent work boots. Also, sure wish I had access to this site last fall. I could have done something about that sod. Raking sod is no joke. That bald guy looking on and shaking his head got me wondering if that was the best way to go about preparing a new garden. I wonder why we didn’t start with raised beds. At least we sent off our soil test sample on January 2 and have our results back already. That Extension Service is a wonderful organization. I wonder if they have any ideas on this?"
The bald guy shaking his head was me and I was watching via newspaper pictures of the first lady doing battle with that sod. And I only hope someone told them about soil testing.
Personally, I’d have had the grounds keeper strip off that sod with a sod cutter and start the First White House Compost Heap with it. Maybe try a little lasagna-style prep (newspaper layers) on sod that will be planted later this year with warm season crops. I certainly would have lobbied for raised beds. Could have killed that sod right in place. When I toured the White House grounds some years ago I noted that the lawn was a well fertilized, tall fescue sod. It ain’t giving up without a fight. It was laughing at the rake. Oh well, I am sure Michelle is gagging on gardening advice by now.
I got to thinking about this right after I got a call asking me when the “first till” date was for Bucks County. You know, "when can I till the garden?" There is no “first till” date but what we talked about was waiting until the soil had dried enough that tillage would not make pottery out of the soil. Wet soil and tillage is a bad combination. Then we had the discussion about using a tiller on sod. Tough way to start. Reminded me of poor Ms Obama and that rake.
I have no doubt that the First Garden will be a success. Hard work will overcome novice mistakes…and teach many lessons. It will be an inspiration to many people and remind everyone involved what an interesting, rewarding and challenging thing it is to grow your own food.
Now on to the First Apiary…”Ms. Obama, I’d suggest three-pound package bees headed by Buckfast queens; ten frame, Longstreth hives with wax (not plastic) foundation. It’s a good idea to…”