CompleteKitchenGarden banneredited
Country Journal Article

Capturing a moment in time (circa 1987), with daughter, Molly, in our Vermont country kitchen. This was an era when our dream was to live off the land; we raised all our own vegetables and meat, kept a flock of chickens and heated the house with only a wood stove, plus launched The Cook's Garden seed catalog.


Hello Everyone.

A week ago, I followed fox tracks in my backyard, tiny paw prints that led straight through the kitchen garden, behind the garden shed and into the woods. It had snowed the night before, and as I followed these tracks, I could see a whole scenario unfolding in the snow during the night. There were squirrel prints near the compost pile, rabbits circling the last of the kale and voles tunneling everywhere. It gave me a thrill to know that my yard provides a natural habitat for wild creatures to interact and thrive.

I garden because I love to bring fresh food and flowers into the house, and because it keeps me intimately connected to my landscape. Like most gardeners, I've learned to sit quietly and observe, to listen, to smell. Whether lying under tall trees, or perched on a bench, sitting still is a way to engage with nature, and simply appreciate being outdoors. Every action is connected to another, and when I claimed this piece of land in order to make a garden, the balance and order of things was disturbed, yet also enhanced.

Allowing nature to follow the grand cycle of life is what gardening has taught me. To be at peace when voles tunnel under the soil, knowing they have a good chance of feeding the fox; watching the squirrels launch attacks on the bird feeder because they, too, will soon retreat back to their nests; the cozy den of rabbits in the underbrush is just fine, because it is winter.

Winter has a way of bringing everything into perspective, allowing us to ponder the landscape and our place in it. In this newsletter, I hope to inspire you to try a new recipe, consider signing up for a kitchen garden design workshop and follow links to fresh ways to build a healthy natural landscape, because what feeds your plants, ultimately feeds you.

As Always,
Ellen Ecker Ogden

Author and Lecturer
The Complete Kitchen Garden and other books.

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View of a new design in progress for my upcoming book.


"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."- Cicero.

As the winter settles in, it's a good time to plot out a new garden design. Consider changing up your garden, to simplify or make a new addition. In my Kitchen Garden Design Workshop the focus is on growing food, with flowers playing a key role to make it both beautiful and productive.

We can arrange a private consultation, or join others in my Vermont garden. If this sounds like something you'd like to try, contact me. You can also learn from my on-line design class in the comfort of your own home.



Tasting food pulled from the ground, twisting off a green stem, or picking up an apple dropped from a tree at the peak of ripeness is the way I wish we all ate. The simple act of planting a seed, watching it grow, then harvesting the fruits is something I wish was taught in all schools. Take time to cook with your children and grandchildren, because time spent together in the kitchen eating good food is always rewarded.

Favorite Winter Soup: Kale and Sausage Soup
Second Favorite Winter Soup: Ginger Carrot Squash Soup
Recipe to Save for Summer: Husk Cherry Clafoutis
Best Organic Seeds for Salads: Wild Garden Seed
Thinking About Greta: Watch her Ted Talk here.
Best Advice for Battling Mice and Voles: Never Mothballs
Excellent Tips for Natural Garden Design: Nature Into Art
Next Year's Garden Focus: Grow more Italian chicories
Cool Heirloom Flower: (Yet weedy) Kiss me Over the Garden Gate

top nine instagram

Top 9 Instagram posts for 2019. To spark fresh ideas for your own kitchen garden, follow me on Instagram.


"The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies."

— Gertrude Jekyll

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Garden Lectures & Design

Please join me at one of my upcoming lectures, or contact me to book an event for your group.
New this year! Design Classes for cooks who love to garden in my Vermont garden. Whether you are considering a new garden or reviving an existing garden, start with a plan and build a foundation of skills.

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