This time of year is so full of life, and the promise of ever changing buds, flowers and leaves in the garden. It’s a lovely reminder of warmer days ahead and gets me excited to start planting our kitchen garden. While under lockdown last spring, Jeffrey and I began planting an edible garden at our home in Santa Barbara and it was such a therapeutic and fun journey (see here). When we came out to our farm in upstate New York, we were missing the fruits of our labor back in Santa Barbara so embarked on building out our second kitchen garden (see here). It’s now time to plant again and for this go-around, I’m trying more from seed. With the celebration of Earth Day this week, it's the perfect time to give back to Mother Earth and share my planting process thus far…
When it came to starting my seeds indoors, I decided to use peat planting pots, which are biodegradable and make transplanting super easy. I filled each pot with soil and used a seed chute to plant the seeds. Planting can get tricky with small, fiddly seeds, so this handy chute is a game changer. It dispenses even flow of any size seed and helps eliminate future thinning. A great tool for amateur and professional gardeners alike.
To get the most out of our kitchen garden, I’ve learned that the quality of the seeds makes a big difference. So I sourced a variety of heirloom herb and vegetable seeds from local favorite, Hudson Valley Seed Company. Committed to stewardship and preserving crop biodiversity, they grow and supply an abundance of unique, organic, non-GMO and open-pollinated garden seeds. They believe that a seed is a time capsule, telling tales of the plants, crops and people that came before us. So each year they commission contemporary artists from around the United States to tell the story of each particular seed variety.
I'm deeply inspired by the company's mission and sustainable values and excited to try out some unique herbs and vegetables this year. So far I've begun planting old favorites like cilantro and arugula and I've added some fun newbies into the mix too. I feel like we use cilantro daily either in a curry or making guacamole, so I've planted more of that this year. When we discovered garlic chives, we knew we had to include it... I'm envisioning it sprinkled on a yummy pasta dish. I'm learning more about the "good bugs" in our garden, so to encourage them, I've planted the Good Bug Blooms, a mix of annuals that provide nectar and habitat for those bugs to thrive. We love to have a mix of herbs in our garden as they are great on summer salads and with grilled fish. Jeffrey and I use oregano year around while cooking, and have become partial to the stronger flavor of greek oregano so we've added it to the mix. It's also super tolerant of winter weather and can often be harvested year around, which is perfect for the farm.
To help me keep track of each seedling, I'm using these wooden seed labels. Once I transplant the starts, I'll move the labels along with them to help identify each plant as it grows. They're also compostable, so I'm not too concerned if one gets lost along the way.
Jeffrey built a couple more boxes this spring so I organized my planting much better. I have a box for herbs, one for salad greens and one for strawberries (yes a whole box - I eat a lot of strawberries in smoothies). We also have three pear espalier along one fence, a blueberry bush along another, a crab apple, and a couple of raspberry bushes. Our next couple of boxes will be for root vegetables, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers.
And it's not just about the edibles. We've also been focusing on bringing in plants that have amazing blooms ( daffodils, morning glory, hellebore, peach trees, etc) not only for us, but to encourage bees, birds, and other beneficial creatures to inhabit our space.
Below: Jeffrey planting some lavender, and a surprise guest inhabiting our rain fueled creek.
Here's to Earth Day and the kick off of our kitchen garden journey. It always feels good to get into the garden and give back to the earth. We continue to be stewards of our farm with the hope that it will live on to give back to the next generation. Happy Earth Day to you all. I hope you're able to get outside and enjoy Mother Nature this week!
*Indoor photos courtesy Emma McCann