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Archive for March, 2009

The publicity surrounding the White House garden just hit The New York Times yesterday, and is spreading like wildfire among avid vegetable gardeners.  We took a peak at the layout as spec’d by Assistant White House Chef, Sam Kass.

To figure out exactly what he had in mind, we recreated the White House vegetable garden layout on Plangarden (click on image):

Check out Plangarden layout of proposed White House veggie garden!

Check out Plangarden layout of proposed White House veggie garden!

It’s fabulous to see that the beds will have good companion flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums to attract beneficial insect and pollinators.  The choice of crops appears to be weighted to those plants most likely to succeed, esp. in the hands of school children who are going to be involved in planting and maintaining it.  However,

  • There’s way too much spinach!  How about some easy-to-grow bok choi? And once July comes around, the four beds of spinach will have to be replaced by something, hopefully a light-feeding, heat-tolerant veggie.  Perhaps a late harvest heirloom tomato.
  • Speaking of which … where are the TOMATOES?  What about potatoes?  Bush 😉 and pole beans?  Cucumbers?  Bell peppers?  Green onions?  Corn?  Gosh, these are no-brainer, sure success veggies.  Malia and Sasha are sure to enjoy cherry tomatoes through the early autumn.
  • With all that nitrogen-hungry spinach, crop rotation has got to be in the plan as well.  We suggest that at least two different plans are created:  one for early, and one for mid-season.  The First Family is sure to enjoy garlic in their meals, so that’s a good one to plant in October.
  • We seem to be missing items mentioned in the NYTimes article like the tomatillos, hot peppers and basil.  An oversight, perhaps.

So what do you think about Sam Kass’ proposed layout?

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Click on image to estimate value of your home-grown veggies!

Click on image to estimate value of your home-grown veggies!

With all the time we spend in the garden, we’ve always wondered the value that actually came out of it in monetary terms.  Here’s a fun estimator that we came up with (you can also click on the image).

It’s still in beta mode and FREE to use 🙂

Thanks in advance for your feedback and comments!

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Brush tomato seedlings 1-2x/day

Brush tomato seedlings 1-2x/day

We sure spend a lot of time babying our seedlings. We start them indoors where it’s safe from the elements. We start our seedlings in excellent soil. Sometimes we use warm water or a warming pad underneath to help germination and growth. They bask under grow lights to keep them from getting spindley or leggy.

But guess what? Your tomato seedlings need a good workout every now and then, too.

“A workout ?”

You bet! The one thing that tomatoes miss from being outside is the wind. Movement helps build strong, thick stems, just like a Pilates workout will strengthen your “core”.

Older seedlings can use a more vigorous workout!

Older seedlings can use a more vigorous workout!

Exercise regimen:

  • When the tomato seedlings reach about 2-3 inches, gently brush the tops of the plants with your hands once or twice a day
  • Once they have their true leaves, and seedlings are over 4 inches tall, your tomatoes can handle a more vigorous workout. For nostalgia and entertainment, whip out those old Jane Fonda or Richard Simmons videos to get you and your tomatoes in the mood. Grab the stems and bend them back and forth. Do this to the higher part of the stems so that you won’t disturb the roots. A couple of times a day should suffice.

A research project from Cornell University and the University of Torino, Italy, showed mechanical brushing results in tomato plants that are shorter but stockier, have thicker stems, and are less likely to suffer transplantation stresses than seedlings that did not get a workout!

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