Garden Lifestyle

Hail to the Peas

You don't need to have a large south lawn or live in a White House to grow a spring vegetable garden.

Sugar snap peas are one of the spring vegetables grown in the White House vegetable garden. These sweet, tender pods grow on long vines in my garden, too.
Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

Gardens Expand with Success

When it comes to gardening, I’m more like Michelle Obama than I thought. At the recent White House spring garden planting event she said, “There’s nothing like watching tiny seeds grow into something amazing.”

That’s exactly how I feel each and every spring.

Something else we have in common is that after a successful gardening season, I want to expand the garden and grow even more, too.

Last year 1,000 pounds of food were harvested from the White House kitchen garden and the fresh produce fed White House guests and people at Washington, D.C., homeless shelters. This year the garden is adding 400 square feet to accommodate even more vegetables, including bok choy, cauliflower, artichokes and mustard greens.

My vegetable garden is considerably smaller than the 1500 square foot White House garden, but I’m planning to add a few new vegetables to my plot, too. I’m also going to donate the extra produce to a food bank in my community as part of the Plant a Row for the Hungry effort.

Even though Mrs. Obama will have many more hands helping her in the garden, we still have one more thing in common: It’s fun to be outside and it’s good getting dirt under your nails.

Spring Garden Vegetables

In addition to the four new vegetables being added to the White House garden, there’s a nice variety of spring greens, onions and peas.

  • Red Romaine lettuce
  • Geen Oak Leaf lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Sugar Snap Pea
  • Butterhead lettuce
  • Fennel
  • Red Oak Leaf lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Shallot
  • Shell peas
  • Broccoli
  • Onion
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Carrots
  • Rhubarb

Spring Garden Herbs

The White House gardeners have a large bed reserved for perennial and annual herbs. They wisely planted the mint in a bed all of its own and away from the main garden. They must know how easy it is for mint to take over an entire garden.

Perennial Herbs
Garlic chives

Annual Herbs

Garden Flowers

Flowers are used as edging plants along both sides of the pathway that winds through the garden. Not only do flowers give the garden a finished look, they’ll also attract bees and butterflies, and some will help fend off insect pests.


Plant a Garden, Grow a Gardener

At the White House planting, Mrs. Obama mentioned she wasn’t a gardener before planting the garden last year, but she enjoyed the entire process. “No matter where you live or what age you are, you can grow stuff,” she said.

And I totally agree.

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