First Lady Katie O'Malley Plants Kitchen Garden and Announces Gardening Lecture Series to Encourage More Marylanders to Plant Gardens

Master and Apprentice gardeners join First Lady's planting day

ANNAPOLIS, MD (April 17, 2010) First Lady Katie O’Malley today celebrated National Gardening Month and Maryland Grow it Eat it Month by planting a food garden at Government House for the second consecutive year.  Master Gardeners and youth apprentice gardeners and their families from Kinder Farm Park in Anne Arundel County joined the First Lady to plant the garden. First Lady O’Malley also announced the first ever Master Gardener/Government House Gardening Lecture Series to teach more Marylanders how to create their own backyard garden and grow their own food.  The lecture series, held outside at the Government House garden, will begin in May and will be held once a month through October. 

“Not only is April ‘National Gardening Month’ and ‘Earth Month,’ but Governor O’Malley has also declared April to be ‘Maryland Grow It Eat It Month,’ in which we’re encouraging Marylanders to plant food gardens at home, drawing attention to the importance of healthy diets and protecting our environment – even in these tough economic times,” said First Lady Katie O’Malley.  “We are continuing our garden this year and have planned a monthly lecture series in the garden so that residents can more easily tap into the Master Gardeners’ expertise, learn from the Government House garden and hopefully have successful gardens of their own.”

First Lady O’Malley has partnered with the University of Maryland Extension to promote its “Grow It Eat It” campaign, which encourages Maryland families to improve health and save money by growing fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs using sustainable practices.  This year, the Government House, the University of Maryland Extension’s Master Gardeners and the Maryland Department of Agriculture are teaming up to present a lecture series one day per month through October in the Government House garden.  Marylanders can register for the classes on the First Lady’s website at First Lady gardening with children

The following sessions will include an on line component posted after the events take place:

  • May 22 – Container Gardening – Learn what fruits and vegetables grow best in containers and some tips for containers.
  • June 19 – Growing Great Tomatoes – The name says it all!
  • July 17 – Pollinators – Witness a hive inspection and honey demo and learn the importance of allowing pollinators in your garden.
  • August 21 – Meet the Chef – Meet one of the chefs in the garden and learn how to harvest and prepare what you grow.
  • September 18 – Soil Conditioning – Learn how to best condition your soil to prepare your garden for next year.
  • October 16 – Companion Planting – Plan ahead for next year and learn how to grow more in less space.

“This garden is a wonderful opportunity for the Master Gardeners to teach Maryland residents gardening skills and share their excitement about growing food,” said University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Cheng-i Wei. “It’s a great partnership that we hope will increase the number of people who garden for their health, the environment and for their enjoyment. The vegetable garden is a realistic example of what Maryland families can do in their own backyards.”

“Last year, the Master Gardeners and the First Family grew a wide variety of herbs and vegetables including mint, basil, rosemary, thyme, lettuce, salad greens, cucumbers, chard, kale, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers,” said Anne Arundel County Master Gardener Grow It Eat it coordinator, Lisa Winters.  “It takes a while to get to know the soil, moisture, and lighting conditions in a new garden. We will raise similar plants this year, with some changes based on our experiences with moisture, soil and lighting. ”  

“There are so many good things about having a vegetable garden,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Mary Ellen Setting who attended the event and enjoys gardening in her backyard. “Gardening can help introduce families to the outdoors and can encourage more exercise as well as the understanding of the source of their food.  In addition to the health and educational benefits, food gardening boosts Maryland’s nurseries and garden centers through seed and plant sales. Gardeners also are generally known to shop at farmers’ markets more often to supplement the fresh produce that they don’t grow themselves.”

The Maryland Master Gardener Program began in 1978 and is a principal outreach education unit of the University of Maryland that serves most Maryland counties and Baltimore City. Through the Home and Garden Information Center – a valuable informational resource for home gardeners – the University of Maryland staff and Master Gardeners staff answer questions about plant health, insect problems and other gardening dilemmas.  To tap into this resource, visit or call 1-800-342-2507. Since last year’s Grow it Eat it launch, more than 5,000 people have signed up as food gardeners on The campaign hopes to encourage one million Marylanders to produce their own affordable, healthy food. 

According to the National Gardening Association, a well-maintained food garden yields a $500 return when considering a typical gardener’s investment and the market price of produce.  It was estimated that 37 percent of all U.S. households, or about 43 million families, planned to grow vegetables, fruit, berries or herbs in 2009. 

To sign up for any of the Master Gardener/Government House gardening lectures and to follow the garden over the course of the summer, log onto and click on the “Garden Lecture Series” icon.  Spaces for the lecture series are limited and on a first come first serve basis. 

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