CompleteKitchenGarden banneredited

Hello Everyone.

"Gardens are not made by singing 'Oh, how beautiful,' and sitting in the shade." — Rudyard Kipling

The growing season never ends, especially in one's mind. Dreaming of good things to come is both a blessing and a curse for the gardener. When I should be focused on the present moment, grateful for those winter vegetables roasting in the oven, instead my mind skips ahead to that new garden design and before I know it, I am online ordering seeds.

On the one hand, seed catalogs are vessels of the practical information; what's new, when to plant, days to maturity, and yield. Yet amongst this vast complexity, the narratives never tell me enough. I tend to choose heirloom varieties, yet calling a vegetable an heirloom is akin to calling a rock band or movie "indie", it doesn't tell me the whole story. Who first grew this seed, where did it come from, and why was it saved? The stories vary.

Not everyone cares to know all this, yet as a gardener who loves seeds, starting from seed is not only the best environmental choice, but there is a deep satisfaction in being able to say, "I grew this from seed!" It's a challenge that I enjoy, even though I am not always successful.

I'm fascinated by the new seed entrepreneurs, who are taking heirlooms to a new level. Read more on the Culinary Breeding Network and the Open Source Seed Initiative websites. It's a whole new world of seed breeders who grow and share seeds with a community of farmers and gardeners.

While I'll have to wait a few more months for warm weather, I'll sing praises to the growers who bring winter food to the farmers markets where I load up on onions, winter squash, and cold hardy greens. Rejoice in winter food, and open your shopping bag wide to embrace (and endure) the next few months until spring.

As Always,
Ellen Ecker Ogden

Author and Lecturer
The Complete Kitchen Garden and other books.

Landreth Early Peas

More About Seeds

There is a new type of seed breeder coming along who is balancing flavor with productivity, beauty with longevity, old with new. Follow this link to for a comprehensive list of resources for seeds, plants and all things gardeners love. While there, listen to Margaret's fascinating interview with a seed entrepreneur at the culinary breeding network.

Starting seeds is easy with this link to Floret's primer which is similar to my own method, although this year I am replacing plastic trays with old-fashioned wooden crates. New to the podcast scene, Grow What You Love hosted by Emily Murphy, features stories of people and plants.


Romanesco Broccoli | Cauliflower. Photo taken @Clearbrook Farm in Shaftsbury, VT.


Ah, to revel in the mind of a gardener is to be in search of something new to try each year. I call it my 80/20 rule, balancing the tried and true with the new and exciting. Reason enough to keep at it year after year. Here's a sampling of what's on my 2020 seed list.

Chocolate Runner Beans: Fruition Seeds
Lava Dome lettuce: Wild Garden Seed
Kiss me Over the Garden Gate flower: Select Seeds
Treviso Tarda radicchio: Seeds From Italy
Colorado Blue Star artichoke: Johnny's Selected
Red Bull Brussels sprouts : John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds
Scarlett Magic tassel flower: Seed Savers Exchange
Mexican Sour Gherkins: Seed Savers Exchange
Aunt Molly's Ground Cherries: Territorial Seed

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Cosmic Carrots


Winter Spinach Custard


Rosemary Focaccia

clam chowder

Clam and Cod Chowder

Winter Recipes

I had to find a place to post this short video, featuring actress Florence Pugh (of Little Women fame) savoring English food titled: Actress Florence Pugh's Appetite. Worth a few minutes to savor. Click on the photos above for my winter recipes.


"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."

— Roald Dahl


Check out my most recent Instagram posts from January, includes a visit to Germany and garden designs.


Winter has a way of bringing everything into perspective, there seems to be more time for reading, thinking and pondering the blank landscape. Before you rush to start seeds, take time to sketch out ideas on paper and join me for a kitchen garden design workshop. There is no better way to learn how to set up a garden than by joining a group of other gardeners who share ideas.

A few of my upcoming design workshops are listed below or take my on-line design class in the convenience of your home.

Manchester Community Library | March 21
Bilthewold Mansion | March 28th
Tower Hill Botanic Garden | April 19
Kitchen Garden Designs | April 4th @ Manchester, Vermont
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens | September 18
( All events may not yet be posted, be sure to check back.)
Sign up early, class is limited.

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"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." - Margaret Atwood

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