Saturday, March 27, 2010

The White House Garden

I don't know when they harvested their winter garden but the video is dated 3/24.  (Warning: at least on my DSL connection it's a jerky one.)  Some comments:
  • the hoops did survive the snow.  I wonder how deeply the ends were buried to withstand the lateral forces exerted by the snow load. (The time lapse photography is interesting--looks as if the snow slid off very quickly.  Maybe the WH hoops are higher than the ones used by a fellow gardener in our community garden who had problems with them.)
  • the ground looked a bit dry.  The covering was plastic sheeting, presumably impervious to water so I wonder if they ever rolled back the plastic to water.
  • as the caption says, the harvest exceeded expectations.  My impression is they seeded in early November so they did better than I expected.  Although one harvest for 4 1/2 months time should put a damper on dreams of locavore sustainability. Plants need the sun, and the sun goes south in the winter.  That's a fact difficult to work around.
  • I still think they would have done better to do as my wife does, plant earlier in the fall to get some growth and use the hoops to extend the harvest season.  That I think would maximize the output from the land.
  • they seemed to be harvesting all the beds, so I don't know where the winter rye which Obamafoodorama mentioned is growing.  It wasn't mentioned in the narration.  Maybe she got confused.
  • Sam Kass did the narration, and he did mention some peas being planted.  When and where wasn't clear, so it's possible the Obamas did beat me and my wife to the sowing this spring.
  • he also said Michelle wants to expand the garden, adding a couple more sets of beds.  That's a point where I segue into being somewhat critical.
Where were Michelle and the girls in the harvest?  It looked like the kitchen staff were doing the harvesting.  If Michelle and the daughters were really gardeners, they would have been curious to see how it had done.  (It's possible, but I think unlikely that the girls are really into it, but because their parents want to shield them from the press it wasn't appropriate for them to be on camera.)  The 1-year anniversary strengthens my early suspicion that it is very difficult for residents of the White House to be real; despite their best intentions what they do is more symbolic than real.

[Updated: A subsequent post on the White House blog reports the winter harvest was about 50 pounds.  Compare that to 750 pounds or more during 2009.  Also, the expansion is to be about 500 square feet.)

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