The White House Kitchen Garden

Taking care of a sick kid opens up a little reading time, so I've been able to finish American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, which Kirk picked up from the library a few weeks ago. 

As always, the best part of a gardening book is the photos, and this book has really beautiful ones, plus some nice renderings of the planting plans per season. There are also profiles of many other community gardens across the country, plus some seasonal recipes.

I liked the fact that this book shared the learning curve of maintaining a big vegetable garden — apparently even having the National Park Service on your side doesn't guarantee that things always go right! I also picked up some ideas to improve our hoop houses over the winter. Check out this photo from obamafoodorama:

These use giant wooden battens along the ground over which is rolled the ends of the plastic. Then those are held in place with sandbags. I'm not quite sure off the top of my head how to modify this system from raised beds (beyond just hitting the ground on the outside of the bed's edge), but this system looks good and sturdy against winter winds.

Here's another example of hoop houses, this time over raised beds. It's easier to see in the book than it is here, but the whole outside edge has the plastic held down with a metal edge that appears to be screwed into the outside face of the wooden edging. I'm not sure about doing that to our beds, but it looks nice and sharp and clean, unlike our constantly-blowing-around hoops here at home. Also, they open their hoops from the short ends, using big binder clips to hold up the plastic (which you can see if you zoom in). 

But maybe the best thing I learned in reading this book is that our garden is bigger than the White House kitchen garden. The White House kitchen garden started out at 1,100 square feet of planting area, and has grown to about 1,500 square feet. Our garden planting area is 2,019 square feet, excluding the cutting garden and the orchard. 

But I guess they do have a pretty nice view:


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