CompleteKitchenGarden banneredited

Hello Everyone.

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

I'm jumping ahead of myself to even mention the word dirt (or soil, as we gardeners prefer), because In Vermont, we are still navigating snow and ice. Yet the birds are returning, and beginning to display courtship rituals, the birdhouses are prepped and snowdrops are pushing out to greet the sun.

During this in-between seed starting and weeding time, I am rushing through the pile of books I meant to read this winter. It's a stack of nature books, that keeps growing. The newest addition is Doug Tallamy's Nature's Best Hope, more inspiration to turn our backyards into conservation corridors that provide wildlife habitats.

I am looking forward to the arrival of Kathryn Aalto's new book, Writing Wild featuring women poets, writers and mavericks and have pre-ordered my copy. In Aalto's other book, The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh, Aalta shares: “There is a layer of memory, emotions and history that takes place in an invisible landscape like strata over a real landscape.”

The most engaging landscapes have an aura about them, a steady reminder that our love of the natural world is deeply ingrained in our own survival and enrichment. One way to work through the changes in the environment is to observe the cycles of a garden, to feel deeply the end of winter as we move towards another spring. In this newsletter, I share a few ideas to engage your enthusiasm for another year in the kitchen garden.

Grow beautiful food,
Ellen Ecker Ogden
Author, Designer and Lecturer

The Complete Kitchen Garden and The New Heirloom Garden plus other books for cooks who love to garden.

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Instagram posts from February.

“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches us to trust.”— Gertrude Jekyll


Natural Gardening

From what I hear from other gardeners, we are all looking closely at how to live more simply and thoughtfully, to be stewards of the earth. To me, this means starting more of my plants from seed. Food gardens are fairly easy to grow from seed, and mature into a complex web of plants that support a range of pollinators. The staggered height of the plants naturally creates a layered garden, and results in a succession of harvestable food all year round.

You might have a small patch outside the kitchen door, a tub of herbs, or a full sized family plot, yet starting with the right seeds and garden tools will make a difference. Here's a seed sowing webinar with Petra of Fruition Seeds, plus a list of the tools and plants you'll see around my garden.

The Best Birdhouses: Kinsman Company
Favorite Digging Fork: Sneeboer Tools
Good Selection of Native Plants Prairie Nursery
Stylish DIY Chairs: Wave Hill Chair Plans
Organic Ginger! Fruition Seed
For Salad Lovers: Wild Garden Seed
For Flower Lovers: Select Seeds

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I've had great luck enticing birds to my yard with these Schwegler birdhouses from Kinsman Co. made from a unique blend of sawdust, clay and other natural materials.


This remarkable material actually "breathes" like wood, the front drops down to make it easy to clean. Photos courtesy of Kinsman Co.


Finding Inspiration:

Landscape design involves listening and observing the world and imagining new ways to sculpt the earth in subtle ways to engage curiosity, and connection. It also requires exploring different ideas on paper, and not just falling back on the most familiar square or rectangle for planting a kitchen garden.

But where do ideas come from? Books and magazines, visiting gardens, taking classes and lectures, even museums where patterns found in old textiles encourage me to take out my sketch book. Here are a few ways I stay inspired:

I wish everyone could see this movie: Fantastic Fungi If you see it coming to a theatre near you, take a seat. Truly remarkable what we don't know about mushrooms, and this film will make you eager to learn more.

In this short TED Talk video: How Bumble Bees Inspired a Network of Tiny Museums, Amanda Schochet shares how to bring nature closer to everyone. Small steps add up.

I've been enjoying cookbook author, Susie Middleton's recipes, featured in the Martha Vineyard Vineyard Magazine, and suggest you sign up for the newsletter filled with good food.

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Design Workshops, Lectures and Private Consultations for your European inspired Potager Garden


Ellen Ecker Ogden is an author, garden designer, and lecturer. Her book, The Complete Kitchen Garden and her upcoming book The New Heirloom Garden (January 2021) features original themed garden designs with seasonal recipes for cooks who love to garden.

For design consultation or book a lecture for fall 2020 and spring 2021. Contact Ellen.

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