Tag Archives: Vegetable Gardens

Top 10 Vegetables for Home Gardeners

Tomatoes top the National Gardening Association‘s list of the Top 10 most popular vegetables grown by home gardeners. A whopping 86% of gardeners said they planned to grow tomatoes, when surveyed.

Here are the Top Ten and the percentages of people who said they planned to grow them:

1. Tomatoes (86%)
2. Cucumbers (47%)
3. Sweet peppers (46%)
4. Beans (39%)
5. Carrots (34%)
6. Summer squash (32%)
7. Onions (32%)
8. Hot peppers (31%)
9. Lettuce (28%)
10. Peas (24%)

On the bottom of the list? The lowly Rutabaga only had 1% of gardeners’ support.

Looking for other Gardening lists? See these for ideas about:

Top 10 Heirloom Vegetables to Try

Top 10 Vegetables for the Urban Garden

10 Shade-Loving Vegetables

Once you’ve been inspired to plant, you may want to check out my earlier post, How to Get Growing if You’re a Total Beginner. Tomato season may be winding down (though hope remains for my Oregon Spring cherry tomatoes and a relatively warm fall), so the Gardening Association suggests planting fragrant fall annuals such as snapdragon, stock (below), and sweet alyssum.

Photos: Jean-noël Lafargue (top), Susan Sachs Lipman

Poster: University of N. Texas Libraries

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Who Brought you to Gardening?

As a wonderful treat yesterday, I awoke to a lovely post on my friend Alison Kerr’s blog, Loving Nature’s Garden. Alison is a very talented observer of the natural world. From her, I’ve learned all about birds, flowers, and critters; ideas for getting myself and others outdoors; and Alison’s special relationship with her own Kansas habitat, which she shares with a great deal of wisdom and humor. And did I mention how thorough she is?

Her new post is about all the people who have influenced her to be a gardener, a wonderful trail back to her grandfather who bought baby leeks, her grandmothers who made rhubarb pie and grew wildflowers, and her mother who grew improbably warm-weather crops in Scotland. All these threads of course led to Alison’s own love of gardening and the way it connects her to family members who came before. It is a beautiful piece, with great pictures of everyone, and of course it led to a flood of hearfelt comments from readers sharing their own memories of the people who influenced them to love getting their hands dirty and growing things.

She got me thinking about my own gardening heritage, which I shared:

My family has always grown something, on patios and decks, in windowboxes and raised beds. At 9 we moved from an apartment to an old house that miraculously had a greenhouse, great beds and soil, and wonderful sun. My mom grew beautiful roses and spent lots of time lovingly cutting and arranging them. She had long, pretty fingers and I can still see picture them tending to her roses.

My dad and I took to the greenhouse, to propagate and experiment. Into the beds went cucumbers, tomatoes, marigolds, zinnias, and other cheery and fairly easy flowers. My dad worked hard at his job and gardening was a way to spend relaxing, fascinating time together.

I still always grow something, now with my own daughter. I love sowing the seeds, watching new shoots come in. Our shadier spot is home to peas, lettuce, pansies, cosmos, and tulips that are just coming up now.

I really appreciate Alison’s continuing inspiration and her getting me to think about who brought me to gardening, which I probably would not have done without the prompt. (Such can be the beauty of the internet.) I recommend you take a look at Loving Nature’s Garden, and visit often. There’s always a link to it on my front page.

My mom was also an avid photographer. The rose pictures are ones she took of her garden.

Here is my dad with a prized cucumber from a fruitful growing season.

Photos by Bunnie Sachs and Susan Sachs Lipman

Slow News Day: Michelle Obama – First Gardener, Foodie, Childrens Health Advocate

flotus_garden1_blog

This has been a big year for the Slow Food movement, with some high-profile help from First Lady Michelle Obama.

In June, the Obama White House broke ground for its organic kitchen garden (involving local schoolchildren in the process), the first White House vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden in the 1940s.

I wrote about it on Slow Family Online, in a story about the bumper crop of home gardeners.

The above picture of First Lady Michelle Obama and children in the garden appeared in the White House blog. Food from the garden is feeding the White House, as well as homeless recipients at Washington, D.C.’s Miriam’s Kitchen.

The blog, Eat The View, offers an entertaining round-up of the White House Garden, and other Edible Landscape campaigns.

In September, the First Lady went a step further, inaugurating the first ever weekly farmers market on the White House lawn, allowing visitors the opportunity to purchase fresh food directly from the farmers who grew it. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was on hand for the opening, and he spoke about the importance of eating fresh, locally-grown food.

Says Mother Earth News:

The White House farmers market serves as a symbol to the rest of the United States that the current administration is supportive of small food producers and sustainable, healthy food systems.

The 2009 White House Farmers Market ran through October and will resume again in the spring.

This week, Michelle Obama decided to raise awareness of the importance of fresh, healthy food another way — by announcing a campaign aimed at curbing childhood obesity. She told the U.S. Conference of Mayors, “Obesity in this country is nothing less than a public health crisis” and said that healthier habits were imperative to the next generation of children. In addition, they needn’t be expensive to undertake. Her campaign will include specific programs like improved school lunches.

You might want to visit Slow Food USA for more information on the Time for Lunch Campaign to improve school lunches.

If you are remotely a foodie or White House follower, you will want to follow the Obama Foodarama blog, which keeps up with both. Given the Obama White House’s emphasis on fresh food and good health, there is certain to be no shortage of news.

Photos: The White House/Joyce N. Boghosian, AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta. Art: National War Garden Commission/US Department of Agriculture, 1917-19.

School and Community Gardens Grow More than Food

I recently came across two wonderful stories about community gardens.

Ground will soon be broken for the first New York school garden in the Edible Schoolyard project, which was begun by pioneering chef and school garden proponent Alice Waters. The garden, at Public School 216 in Brooklyn’s Gravesend neighborhood, will feature a solar-powered building with a kitchen classroom that includes space for the children to make and enjoy meals from the food they’ve grown. Also in the works are a chicken coop, a composting system, an outdoor pizza oven, a portable greenhouse, and rainwater collection.

The 460 students, grades K-5, will learn a variety of traditional subjects through the garden, and it is hoped that the school will become a center for environmental and agriculture studies. The school, in an area where children would not normally have ready access to gardens, represents the 6th Edible Schoolyard in the U.S. and the only one currently set to operate year-round. School Principal Celia Kaplinsky said she also envisions the garden as a place to build community, where children with many different cultures and languages can bond.

Read more about Brooklyn’s Edible Schoolyard in this New York Times article.

Another terrific story just surfaced about a series of backyard vegetable gardens in San Jose, CA. The project is spearheaded by a group called La Mesa Verde, which is part of the Silicon Valley Health Trust. Both groups encourage healthy eating and community enhancement through gardening, noting that growing ones own healthy food is not only a source of pride, but a surefire way to have access to good greens.

30 backyard gardens were recently planted in San Jose’s Gardner and Washington-Guadalupe neighborhoods, which are home to many relatively new Latino immigrants who comprise the city’s working poor. The neighborhoods, while blessed with an average of 300 sunny days a year, offer limited access to fresh food. Homegrown food has meant access, along with tremendous money savings, for many. Says one resident, “People don’t eat vegetables unless they are close by.”

La Mesa Verde founder Raul Lozano hopes to get about 70 more backyard gardens planted by spring, with help from community volunteers.

Read more about the San Jose backyard gardens in the New York Times.

Photo: Jean-noël Lafargue. ChickenFreak

Slow News Follow-Up: Berkeley Attempts to Squash Home Garden

No sooner had I posted about the spate of modern homesteaders who are reclaiming their front yards for real growing and community-enhancing spaces than I received a link from my good friend Judd Williams to this piece by Chris Carlsson of the superb SFStreetsblog. It’s about a town that’s attempting to squash a successful long-time front-yard vegetable garden, in favor of something more, say, ornamental and wasteful, like a lawn.

Are you sitting down? This isn’t some planned, gated, sterile community that’s refusing to let its citizens grow a little food in the space where the traditional suburban lawn might go. It’s Berkeley, CA, of all places, bearing down on a gentle Green Thumb who, like many in the enviably sunny, green town, is attempting to produce something of value on his land.

One of the many citations the gardener/homeowner, Asa Dodsworth, has received is for “Unpermitted Garden Beds,” which carries a five hundred dollar a day fine. That’s right — Growing food in the front yard is outlawed.

I, frankly, don’t get it, especially after seeing the pictures of Dodsworth’s mellow, unassuming garden. If this seems wrong to you, too, Chris’ piece provides a lot more information about the situation and which decision makers to write to try to rectify it.

lougarden1

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Slow News Day: A Bumper Crop of Gardeners

Last summer, I noticed a spate of news stories about the rise of home gardening. In July, ’08, Newsweek and NPR both reported that concerns about food safety, as well as an increasing desire to eat locally and healthily, was turning a lot of folks into Green Thumbs. People like Fred Davis and Yvette Roman Davis, bloggers at Beyond the Lawn, reported reclaiming their L.A. front lawn for a thriving Victory Garden.

I thought this was supremely cool, as it seemed to usher in an era of getting away from water-guzzling, appearance-oriented lawns and into practical, food-producing gardens. These prove beautiful, too, of course. It’s just a shift in perspective and priorities that allows us to bring the backyard up to the front. (Some neighborhoods have even loosened their restrictions on such sustainable practices as front-yard growing and line-drying of laundry.)

Peppers

As a bonus, front yard gardeners get to know — and sometimes feed — their neighbors. Community happens when we move yard and porch living out of the private and into the public. This summer, I’ve already heard about two monthly plant exchanges and a weekly vegetable harvest exchange in my neighborhood, as well as new farmers’ markets in my larger community.

Farmersmarket

Of course, further afield, the Obama White House broke ground for its organic vegetable garden (involving local schoolchildren in the process), the first White House vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden in the 1940s.

I’m very moved by this picture of First Lady Michelle Obama and children in the garden, that appears in the White House blog. Food from the garden is feeding the White House and Washington, D.C.’s Miriam’s Kitchen, which feeds the homeless.

flotus_garden1_blog

Last week’s San Francisco Chronicle had another story about the rise in home gardening. Chris Romas, the president of W. Atlee Burpee, the world’s largest seed company, said he hasn’t seen this kind of interest in home growing in 30 years. Lots of currents are influencing people to turn or return to gardening — It’s a cost-effective way to supply one’s food, you have complete control over the way your food is grown, you can get in touch with the land, you can enjoy companionship or solitude, and it’s very satisfying to grow and make your own food.

I have fond memories of vegetable gardening with my dad, growing up. We had wonderful raised beds and great Southern California sun. But you don’t have to have either to enjoy growing food. I’ve grown tomatoes on a Manhattan balcony and pumpkin, corn, peppers and more on my fog-shrouded deck in Mill Valley. If you’ve been following my Deck Garden tales, you know the advice to use your vertical space, with trellises and vines. I also urge beginning gardeners to start small, follow seed-pack directions, weed out seedlings so that the hardiest new plantings will have room to grow, and harvest your crops, so you can enjoy them and also give new growth some room to come in.

I’m going to take my own advice and have a big home-grown salad for lunch. This is my 2’x 2′ lettuce box today:

Lettuce2

This is the box a month ago:

Lettuce3

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

White House Garden Photo Courtesy of The White House/Joyce N. Boghosian