As Usual, I Am Late To The Party

I thank the venerable blog Garden Rant for calling my attention to this post about the “decay” in the White House kitchen garden during the recent government shutdown.

By Day 4 of the shutdown (that would have been October 4) vegetables were described as “mouldering” on the vines, weeds were “springing up everywhere,” allegedly there were mushrooms running amok and–horror of horrors! there was leaf litter that had fallen from the trees!

Excuse me, but isn’t this an organic garden? I’ll agree that rotting veggies isn’t a good thing and weeds probably aren’t optimal either (just please don’t look at my gardens). But leaf litter? That’s about the best kind of compost there is. And mushrooms? Surely there’s nothing wrong with those. If anything, it indicates that the garden is probably over-irrigated to me!

Worse yet, a photo on the blog shows a man standing there with a watering wand, hand-watering! That’s hardly the best sustainable practice. No wonder there are mushrooms!

And the “wildlife” that’s running amok? Birds, squirrels and a fox, all helping themselves to the garden bounty now that it is not being regularly tended by an army of gardeners.

In truth, now that the garden is not being regularly tended, and plants aren’t being swapped out at the first sign of imperfection, it looks like any one of our gardens might.

Herbs are flowering because they are annuals at the end of their lifespan (i.e. the basils).

Tomatoes have pretty much reached the limit of their production too and have naturally succumbed to something too. The ‘Sungold’ were pictured as falling over and pretty much dead of something–late blight or a wilt, with lots of tomatoes on the ground for the wildlife to enjoy.

This isn’t decay and mouldering; this is the natural cycle of a vegetable garden–an over-watered vegetable garden perhaps, but a vegetable garden.

It is a shame that the remaining good crops weren’t being harvested during the 2 1/2 week shutdown. But I’m sure that not nearly as much “decay” went on in there as we were led to believe!

2 thoughts on “As Usual, I Am Late To The Party

  1. nicolec October 20, 2013 / 4:28 pm

    Seriously. If your garden can’t take a couple of weeks of minimal care, it’s not a garden, it’s a science project. On one hand, we take it for granted the official White House garden shouldn’t suffer late blight on the tomatoes… but why? It’s part of the reality of growing food. Swapping slightly imperfect specimens for beauty queens from a greenhouse isn’t sustainable at all.

    • gardendaze October 20, 2013 / 7:02 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Nicole. Until I saw this post, I had been a fan–in theory at least–of the White House garden. And I suppose because it’s always on public display it needs to look good–but how much more educational would it be, especailly for the kids who are always coming, if they could see that it wasn’t perfect?

      Always having perfect plants on display is almost as unrealistic as the “Martha Stewart” way of gardening. It just teaches that unless there’s an army of folks to do things for you, you can’t have an organic garden–and that’s just nonsense!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!


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