Photo by Matthew Benson for The New Heirloom Garden

Hello Everyone.

Light snow is falling outside the window, covering a thick crust of ice beneath. Filling the bird feeder requires ice grips on my sneakers and ski poles for balance. My pencil hovers over a large piece of graph paper, prepared to draw out my kitchen garden design scheme. But where do ideas come from?

Creating an artful design on paper during mid-winter with a white canvas of snow differs from a wide-open window with a fresh spring breeze. So when I need inspiration, I turn to my garden books. Five shelves of well-worn books began with my first book, Making Things Grow by Thalassa Cruso. A gift from my mother for my sixteenth birthday, when she noticed I was tending a newly acquired Jade plant.

That Jade plant (Crassula ovata) came with me to college, accompanied me to Vermont, and many decades later, passed its offspring along to friends and family from my cuttings from the original. That one small plant, (and that first gifted book) along with the dozens of gardening books I have acquired along the way inspire my writing and designs.

Gazing thru my frosted windows, I return to the four-square parterre. It is fairly easy to sketch out on paper and I'll use tracing paper to overlay variations of edible plants. While change is never easy, in my garden I like to move things around, making every year's design a little different.

Announcing two ways to learn how to design an artful kitchen garden: join my four-week class or a half-day class at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. Both are coming up soon, so sign up now. Growing beautiful food is like creating a painting just outside your kitchen door.

As Always,
Ellen Ecker Ogden
Author of The Complete Kitchen Garden and The New Heirloom Garden. Designs, Books, and Classes For Gardeners Who Love to Cook.

New Heirloom Book. Cover

Buy an autographed copy.

design chapter opener

Designs, Recipes and Heirloom Plants for Cooks who Love to Garden


Reflections | Resources

A few links where I’m finding inspiration this month: (All links are non-affiliated.)

The Seed Savers Exchange annual yearbook is a treasure trove of heirloom seeds, from growers all over the world.

Author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and 14 other cookbooks, Deborah Madison’s memoir Onion in My Pocket rates as one of her best.

I’ve admired Niki Jabbour, not just because she is an indefatigable gardener, but because she grows food year-round in Canada. She inspired me to buy two cold frames this spring, and in her new book Growing Under Cover she makes growing food look easy. Watch this PBS Kitchen Vignette to learn more.

As much as I love spring, there are a few things I'll miss about winter. I enjoy the slower pace, and the routine. Here's a poem by Margaret Atwood that you might enjoy.

I'm excited to try growing new to me heirlooms, along with favorites such as Pink Passion Chard from Wild Garden Seed, Chocolate Runner Beans from Fruition Seed, and Cobea Scandens from Select Seeds. Try Siskiyou Seeds for a refreshing change from the mainstream catalogs.

March recipes include Cranberry Orange Scones, Beet Spoon Bread and my secret ingredient for baked chicken and omelets: Fresh Herb Sea Salt. Click on the recipes below. All recipes my new book. Bon Appetite!

Herb Sea Salt

My secret recipe for everything: Herb Sea Salt


Rainbow Beet Spoon Bread Recipe. Pure Comfort Food.


Book Tour Highlights

I'm delighted that my new book, The New Heirloom Garden launched into bookstores everywhere on 2 February. It's currently #4 in Organic Garden Design and #25 in Garden Design on Amazon. Yay! Thank you to everyone who has purchased the book and inspired me along the way.

A few highlights from this month include a podcast with Thomas Christopher on Growing Greener and Margaret Roach's Away to Garden Listen Here. I've shared the stage with my book photographer, Matthew Benson, for a lively talk about heirlooms at the Northshire Bookstore and Berkshire Botanic Garden.

Coming up this month, I'll be giving talks at many garden clubs, Master Gardeners programs, and Gardeners Supply. If you are interested in booking a talk, or a presentation, visit my lectures page for details.

instagram. March 1

"The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before." – Vita Sackville-West

Ogden. Cropped Circle

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