‘Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.’
--Albert Einstein

cold frames

My mid-summer kitchen garden, with cold frames protecting fall crop from rabbits. I'm considering replacing the boxwood with asparagus. What do you think?

Hello Everyone.

Summer is just getting started, and I am already making lists of things to change for next year. I'm pulling up plants and rearranging everything. This urge for a change started last week when I walked into my kitchen garden, and all I could think about was giving up.

Blame it on the rabbits who had eaten every head of lettuce, nibbled on beans, and peas leaving only withered vines, or the onions, and garlic tops that were in a tangle. The moment reminded me of the best-selling cookbook of the 60s I HATE TO COOK, aimed at timesaving methods, to enjoy cocktails instead of cooking. The title alone always irritated me because I love to cook. But suddenly, I understood why it would be easy to give up growing a food garden because it felt like all work and no play.

When I built my kitchen garden 15 years ago, it was a simple four-square design, inspired by the classic European style potager. Both beautiful and productive, it fits neatly into a small south-facing plot pressed up against the house. At first, I grew a bit of everything. Now I focus on salad greens and herbs.

I've always considered my garden, both the food garden and flower garden, an extension of my home. Each element that surrounds my house fits a long-term landscape plan. And similar to my house, when it gets a little ragged around the edges, it's time for a renovation. Never easy, always a bit messy, and usually follows a plan.

As gardeners, one thing we can all agree on is that some years are better than others. And sometimes we stay stuck in the design we started with, instead of looking towards something new. My current thought is to change the pathways, build low raised beds and take out the boxwood and replace it with asparagus.

Right now is the best time to appreciate what you have, yet also look ahead to ways that you can do it even better. While my garden made me consider giving up, it became an opportunity to take the leap forward to create something entirely new. In life, and in the garden. Check out my new virtual classes, starting this Fall.

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


Garden Lectures & Classes

heirloom gourds

Cucurbit or Gourd Family. Photo by Matthew Benson for THe New Heirloom Garden

We are here because of plants. It's that simple. We've been living together since the dawn of time, yet we still have a lot to learn about the structure of the plant world, and how it works to keep us healthy.

The New Heirloom Garden book will inspire you with fresh ideas about how to set up a kitchen garden and cook delicious recipes. What I most hope to share is the importance of digging deeper into the plant world, which is what I do in my lectures and classes.

I'm building a new lecture circuit, that includes in-person and virtual classes. Ideal for gardeners, master gardeners, and horticultural symposiums. Booking now. Visit The New Heirloom Garden lecture. Call or write for fees and availability.


How to Write a Family Cookbook

Strawberry SHORTCAKE

Write your family stories, recipes and learn food styling. Sign up for my upcoming cookbook class.

Virtual Live Class

Have your friends ever said: "Your cooking is so good, write a cookbook!"

That's what happened to me, and now 20 years later I have written five cookbooks.

Starting in September, I'm teaching a new virtual class on how to write and publish your family cookbook.

It's time to gather your best recipes and start writing. For yourself, for your family and friends - just in time for a holiday gift.

Watch my new introductory video to learn more. Click here.


In My Summer Kitchen

heirloom fruit

On the fourth of July, while everyone else is at the parade, I am home stirring a kettle of strawberry jam. The day begins by bringing up the canning jars from the basement, trimming the berries in the sink, then measuring out sugar, berries, and lemon juice. Lemon juice is natural pectin, although it takes twice the time to stir with a wooden spoon until thick. Making jam, pickles, and chutneys may take time away from the garden, yet you won't regret it when you open that jar in the winter months.

Strawberry Jam with natural pectin
Rosehip Marmalade with Citrus
Sweet Bread and Butter Pickles
Spicy GInger Peach Chutney
Green Tomato Piccalilli

Four Photo Website

Ellen Ecker Ogden. Author, Garden Designer and Garden Speaker.

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