Three Tips from the White House on Winter Gardening

[youtube=]First Lady Michelle Obama cultivated a fresh vision heard around the world when she initiated a kitchen garden on the White House ground last spring.  But don’t think that as the snow flies this growing venture will dive into hibernation.  Thanks to the vision of Sam Kass, Food Initiative Coordinator at the White House and garden visionary, the First Family will be eating local through winter thanks to simple winter gardening tactics.

Here are three tips from the White House for eating local and season from your garden year round:

1.  Add a Hoop House
A hoop house (sometimes also called a “high tunnel”) is an inexpensive way to extend the growing season, basically consisting of metal bars holding up fabric or plastic pulled tight to keep the warm air in.  Here’s basic hoop house how-to’s from my friend, Roger Doiron, founder of Kitchen Gardeners International and the leader behind the “Eat the View” campaign supporting the White House Garden.

2.  Plant Greens
The White House winter garden offers a variety of greens and cool weather crops such as spinach, lettuce, mustard greens and chard.  “Winter spinach is extra sweet,” comments Kass on the White House website.  “Sugar doesn’t freeze, so spinach produces extra sugars in the winter to protect itself from frost.  It tastes almost like candy.”

3.  Take Cover

Cover crops, that is.  Kass planted a cover crop of rye in the areas of the garden that will go dormant over the winter, revitalizing the soil and preventing erosion.  “This is an incredibly important technique all growers can utilize,” adds Kass.   “Topsoil is one of our valuable commodities, and we are working hard to protect it.”

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