White House Vegetable Garden

Great news! I just received a note from our friend, Renee Shepherd, of Renee's Seed. that she was one of the lucky guests to meet with Michelle Obama at the new White House Garden Project. Renee has provided seed to the project. I've written about her outstanding seed collections many times here on the blog and in the newspapers. Here's the story and congratulations to you, Renee!

Renee at the White House - Renee's Garden was part of the Congressional Club's annual First Lady's Luncheon honoring Michelle Obama at the Washington Hilton last month.

This gala annual event, attended by Congressional, Supreme Court and Administration spouses as well as guests from around the country had a theme of "Forever Green", and event co-chair, Betty Ann Tanner, wife of the senator from Tennessee, invited me to contribute our seeds for attendees. Individual packets of our Farmers Market lettuce and Pesto Basil were part of the beautiful gift bags given every attendee.

Renee said, "Best of all, I was invited to the VIP reception before the affair and had the thrill and honor of meeting Michelle Obama in person. I was also able to make a personal selection of our seeds to give to Michelle. I expect they will become part of the new White House garden. Michelle was everything I expected -- vibrant, graceful, clearly engaged and enjoying what she is doing. When you speak with her, you have her full attention and feel like you are the only person in the room. The luncheon itself was really fabulous. I was seated at a table quite close to the First Lady and other honorees, so I got to watch her "up close and personal" as she gave a very insightful speech on community service."

We've had lots of great groups touring the garden nearly every day last week, including Mrs. Hampy who has been trying to get here for 15 years! There was The Dogwood Trails Garden Club yesterday, a group of 4 friends from Ozark, MO this morning and a larger group this evening.

Tonight was the first time I've given an evening garden tour. Friends at the Unitarian Church in Springfield, MO, have been trying for 2 summers to set something up here at the farm. Tonight we had 25 people, many Master Gardeners and Unitarians, who arrived about 6:30. The car-pool group arrived separately, all coming from 1 1/2 to 2 hours away, so I got to give 2 sets of tours. Included in the group were interns and researchers from Poland and Hungary and a wide diversity of people and professions from across the Ozarks, which made it great fun for me.

I admit I had dreaded working with a large group, which is often difficult just by the size and the ability of everyone to hear. These folks were so enthusiastic and engaged, all very knowledgeable about plants, that it allowed me to tell some of the histories of my plants, how I got them, where they came and what was unique about them. When I have an enthusiastic group such as this, I am so energized after they are gone that I can't understand why I don't have more groups like this. (It reminded of how resistant I was to taking on 20 Vacation Bible Schoolers some years ago, ages 4, 5 & 6, and how the minister's wife would not take no for an answer. And when the kids arrived, I was so taken with their amazing questions and their enthusiasm, with their very different perspectives, that I was energized like the Energized Bunny for the entire season). So it was like that tonight, this group was so much fun! I served cold-pressed mint tea and lemon balm cake (which I've posted the recipe for, before). And the evening is a perfect time for tours. Maybe next time we'll have a meal by candlelight and some music. It's my favorite time to be in the garden but most groups want to come about 10:30 in the morning when it's so hot you sweat and want to slide under the bushes. (Of course I'm the one who insists people come in the morning!)

Congratulations to our friend, Renee Shepherd and kudos to Michelle Obama for the fantastic job she is doing with a real, honest to goodness garden in the White House (she has a blog, too). And for the chefs she has that actually use the fresh produce! NPR did a great interview with Michelle yesterday and talked to the main garden chef, too.

And this bit of news from Paul-the-Pie-Man, who WWOOFed for us in the garden in May and is now in Maine with his girlfriend, Katie. He's been baking pies again and sent this pic of the mini apple-rhubarb pies he just baked. He's mastered whole wheat pie crusts, which look great by the way. He baked the pies in jelly glasses. (Why didn't I ever think of that? They're heat proof, make the perfect size individual pie! I love it when someone young comes along, with new fresh ideas, not tied to the methods of the past. Great pies, Paul!

I received this photo from our friend, Arne, in Ava, a market gardener and absolute plant nut, with his extra-large broccoli. I'm always glad when people grow, and like, broccoli. It's a take it or leave it vegetable for me, but Arne's crop is fantastic. I've only seen a few pictures of his garden, but it is beautiful and extensive. He sells at the Ava Farmer's Market and the Bakerville Farmer's Market, too. Thanks Arne, for the great pic!

Last, some housekeeping stuff: I always love hearing the comments folks leave after the posts (and you can click on "comments" and read them, too). But when people ask questions in a comment, I have no way to answer. Either email me directly: Longcreekherbs@yahoo.com if you want an answer, or include your email address in your comment. I see the comments before they are published, but they come to me as "no-reply.comment" which does not give me any way of reaching you. So here are a couple of replies to questions I have no other way of answering since I have no idea who posts them:
1-No, I've not had any problems with germination in the bhut jalokia peppers. To the reader who wrote - were the seed from me or someone else? If from me I'll gladly replace them, but I've not had a problem with germination.
2-Regarding sage dying out in summer. It's caused from not pruning it back hard in early spring (Jan-Feb for us here). I've written several articles, which are in my "Columns" page of the website about this. Lavender, santolina and sage all have the center die-back problem unless they are pruned back to about 6 inches tall in very early spring. Pruning now may well kill the sage plant.
3-To the man who said, "You claim in one place to have 26 books and in another, 24, just which is it?? I've written more than either of those but a couple are out of print. Sorry for the confusion. I try to be accurate but sometimes I miss.

Happy gardening!


compost in my shoe said...

This is so cool to have gardening so front and center. And it should be!!!!

patricia said...

I love the idea of pies in a jelly jar but I am afraid I have to be a wet blanket.
I have observed years of the U.California/extension's home advisors warning women to stop using the ovens for canning, that the jars were not meant for that kind of heat and the resulting explosions proved very dangerous.
Perhaps the jars have changed?
Perhaps the pie crust on top instead of a secure lid makes a difference?
I do hope so.