First Lady Michelle Obama has said that she hears one question over and over, whether she’s meeting schoolchildren or the Prince of Wales: “How’s the garden?” The simple task of planting some herbs and vegetables has captured the world’s imagination. To see a larger image of the garden plan, courtesy of the Office of the First Lady, just click on the link at the bottom of this page (requires Google Docs).
Of course, a kitchen garden like the Obama’s should contain the fruits, vegetables and herbs that you and your family love to eat. President Obama is reportedly no fan of beets, so they’re nowhere to be found. But the garden has lots of dark, leafy green plants like chard, collards and spinach, which are all packed with essential nutrients. History buffs will appreciate the Thomas Jefferson bed (upper right), which contains plants grown from seeds and sprouts that originated in Mr. Jefferson’s garden in Monticello, Virginia.
Who Works -- and Who Eats?
According to the White House, the garden has several functions. The fresh produce will feed not only the First Family and their staff, but also visitors at official White House dinners. Local schoolkids are helping out with the gardening (and the eating), giving them some practical knowledge about botany and nutrition. And there are numerous health benefits -- physical and mental -- to going outside and working in a garden.
Bugs In and Bugs Out
I’m encouraged by the fact that the garden will use all-organic fertilizer (of course, there’s no shortage of fertilizer in Washington, DC). Instead of chemical pesticides, praying mantises and lady bugs are being brought in to control insect pests. And take a look at the narrow beds that line the garden’s footpaths -- marigolds, which are naturally repellent to nematodes and other garden pests, have been planted in abundance.
If this garden is any indication of what’s going on in Washington’s corridors of power, then we may be in for a greener administration. Or at least one with a greener thumb.