Michelle Obama releases new book on White House gardening

London: Michelle Obama has released a new book that details her gardening hits and misses, and hopes she will give people inspiration to start growing their own plants.

The first lady’s 271-page book on gardening is called ‘American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America’, the Telegraph reported.

Obama holds out the raised vegetable beds on the South Lawn as “an expression of my hopes” for the nation’s children.

“Just as each seed we plant has the potential to become something extraordinary, so does every child,” she writes.

The book, released on Tuesday by Crown Publishers, traces how a city kid from the South Side of Chicago who became a working mother and then a political spouse found herself fretting on that first planting day, March 20, 2009, about whether an L-shaped stretch of soil would prove fertile ground for a national conversation “about the food we eat, the lives we lead, and how all of that affects our children.”

The book is full of colourful, glossy photos of luscious-looking vegetables, complete with a cover picture in which the first lady’s blouse seems to be colour-coordinated with the eggplants in her bulging basket of produce.

Bo, the popular family dog, gets plenty of cameo appearances. There are maps tracing the growth of the garden over the past three years, and stories about community gardens around the country. Even a how-to on creating a compost bin.

The book is divided into four sections marking the seasons, and includes a complement of recipes for each.

There are inside stories about planting travails that will ring true with any weekend gardener: pumpkins that wouldn’t grow, cantaloups that tasted blah, blackberry bushes that wouldn’t play nice with the raspberry bushes and an invasion of cucumber beetles, among them.

The first lady makes clear she’s not the one doing most of the hoeing and weeding, crediting school kids, White House chefs and grounds crew and enthusiastic volunteers from all over the White House chain of command with providing lots of manpower.

And there are bits of historical trivia woven throughout: John Adams ordered up the first White House garden, but it was never harvested after he lost re-election. Thomas Jefferson was obsessed with trying to grow a four-foot (1.2-meter)-long cucumber. Heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, at 101 now a figure in the corruption trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards, helped redesign the Rose Garden for President John F. Kennedy.

There are also bits of personal history: Obama’s father worked as a boy on one of the vegetable trucks that would deliver produce to neighbourhoods, and had a reputation for sneaking pieces of fruit. Her mother’s family had a plot in a neighbourhood victory garden on the corner of an alley, and the kids had to eat their vegetables or go to bed without supper.



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