Home & Garden

Gardening on our minds

When you're out in the garden and pop a cherry tomato into your mouth, it's hard to describe the deliciousness of that vegetable five seconds off the vine. The flavor is so fresh.

You can experience that kind of sensation from doing something as simple as growing tarragon near the back door, or sowing radishes in a big pot on the patio or lettuce seeds in a tub.

Bluegrass Back Yards — an occasional series that will run in Inside/Out — will help you have a successful garden. We'll offer tips and ideas from other gardeners and information pertinent to Central Kentucky from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Plus a whole lot more.

Let me hear from you about your garden, your gardening ideas, questions and experiences. Send me an e-mail at bfortune@herald-leader.com or call (859) 231-3251. The Bluegrass Back Yards blog will be coming soon, and you'll be able to share your gardening adventures there.

Back-yard gardens were essential for settlers to America, who dug plots as soon as they could, planting seeds brought from Europe.

Growing vegetables today is gaining in popularity as people worry about what chemicals might be on that spinach and how much fuel was used to transport it thousands of miles from the farm to your plate.

In The Wall Street Journal recently, writer Peggy Noonan said that in her assessment, Americans' biggest deep-down fear is running out of food. People don't have gardens anymore, and we haven't taught our children how to grow things. All of our food is bought in a store, Noonan wrote.

And what if the crucial point through which trucks travel from farm to city gets cut off?

Most of us have about two months of canned goods on hand. We're afraid, she said.

Roger Doiron, a gardener in Scarborough, Maine, founded Kitchen Gardeners International (www.kitchengardeners.org) in 2003. The non-profit says its mission "is to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve greater levels of food self-reliance through the promotion of kitchen gardening, home cooking, and sustainable local food systems.

Now with more than 5,000 gardeners worldwide, the organization shares ideas and know-how on planting a back-yard veggie garden.

Kitchen Gardeners International is coordinating a campaign called Eat the View, encouraging the Obamas to plant a large organic garden on the White House lawn. After all, the White House is America's house, and it could be a model at a time of economic and environmental crisis.

There are a few things you should know before you consider growing a garden this year:

■ Gardens don't usually thrive on neglect.

■ Gardening is not difficult.

■ You can do it.

Until recent generations, vast numbers of Americans grew all or some of the vegetables they ate. Today, getting back to basics in these difficult economic times is essential.

Because the first step to gardening is mental, a good place to look for ideas and inspiration is in seed catalogs. There's a list above of those with generous vegetable and herb selections. Let me hear about your favorites.