Thirty-two years ago when my oldest daughter was only 6 weeks old, she, her dad, and I moved to our first house, a spacious three-bedroom vintage home with the remains of a small orchard on what had once been a small farm, just across the street from our tiny one-bedroom apartment. We must have been quite a sight carting all our worldly belongings through the parking lot of our apartment building and across the street to our new home.
The previous renters of the house had planted the two wide strips of soil along the length of the driveway with all kinds of veggies. Since we moved in September, there were lots of veggies left to harvest.
I'd grown up with a vegetable garden. After living in an apartment for a little over a year, I was thrilled at the prospect of having one of my very own. Since the beds were already prepared and planted, all that was left was to enjoy our free harvest, order some seeds, and plant more vegetables the following spring. A couple of years later, I moved the garden into the backyard and planted ornamental borders and some lawn along the driveway.
My daughters grew up with fresh, organic veggies from our garden. They learned to like quite a few more vegetables than they otherwise might have. It was fun for them to pick their own veggies, brush off the dirt, and eat them still warm from the sun. The Middle One would only eat broccoli if she could pick it herself. She called the florets trees. In her booster seat at our dinner table, she wouldn't touch broccoli, but she'd stop in the middle of playing in the backyard to snap off a tender "tree" and pop it in her mouth. The kids were always welcome in the garden, just as I'd been when I was a child.
I've been yearning for a vegetable garden since the first year I was here. All my resources the first five years, including time and energy, were spent on the unplanted perennial garden that occupies about a third of our backyard.
Then there was the question of where I could even have a veggie garden, since most of our yard is very shady. There's not one spot of full sun in the back yard. This is wonderful on hot summer days, and our back yard and patio are a cool, shady, mostly-private oasis, but not so great for a vegetable garden. Even the patio is too shaded to grow them in containers.
Then of course, there's my dear husband. I think I'll call him the Lawn Man for the purpose of the blog. He makes lawn care an art and a science in its own right, and has even figured out what kind of grass will grow in the heavily-dappled shade of the back yard where it competes with the shallow roots of three mature silver maples. Most of our neighbors have professional lawn care, but we have the nicest lawn on the block, if I do say so myself.
Our beautiful lawn makes a lush, green backdrop for the perennials, annuals, and mature trees and shrubs that surround it. The cool, soft grass feels wonderful on bare feet. We make a good pair - the Lawn Man and the Garden Girl. He takes care of the lawn, I take care of the garden, and we both pitch in with the many high-maintenance mature shrubs and hedges.
Anyway, last year he offered to sacrifice some prime lawn real estate in our sunny side yard to the cause of my yearned-for veggie bed. Knowing how much he loves the lawn, I'm not exaggerating when I say it is a sacrifice. This fall, I took him up on his offer, and you can see the result above. But wait, it's not quite finished. That means you'll be hearing more about it as I complete it.
I couldn't exactly be advocating for a veggie garden on the White House Lawn without doing my part for the cause, now could I? Although its late fall and I have several months to pass before planting the garden, don't be surprised if you hear even more about it over the winter. I'm very excited.