These days, I am very picky about what we plant in our garden. When I first started I planted rather haphazardly and ended up with bunch of produce I don’t really cook with. It took me awhile to iron out the kinks of what we truly eat versus what got planted. I had to learn to plan in advance, to make choices based on what my family would like and what staples I needed for cooking.
My first recommendation for those starting an organic garden or wanting to take their garden to the next level: make regular trips to the local organic nursery. I personally love to visit Island Seed and Feed (29 S Fairview Ave Goleta, CA 93117 (805) 967-5262). The individuals who work there are extremely knowledgeable and can be a great resource for determining a planting schedule. A local nursery also understands your particular micro-climate. They worked with me to determine the best time to plant and how to make the most of Santa Barbara’s desirable environment.
I suggest you make it a fun excursion, spend time scouring the seed section and the seedlings. Talk to people and ask questions. Think about your space, sun exposure; make a plan that makes the most of your space to produce the healthiest yield. Take the time to think about what you want to use in your cooking, in your kitchen. It wasn’t until I took the time to think, plan and plant efficiently that I felt ownership of my garden and it produced what I really wanted and was excited about bringing into the kitchen.
When I decide what to plant I make a wish list of ingredients, items that would be a dream to go out and pick in my own backyard.
Great resource books that I continue to use…
Beautiful American Vegetable Gardens by Mary Tonetti Dorra
The Great Vegetable Plot by Sarah Raven
Vegetable Gardening with Derek Fell
Some questions to ask when planning your garden:
- What does my family like to eat?
- What are kitchen staples I am constantly buying at the farmer’s market?
- What is difficult for me to find at the market that I love?
- What do I buy at the store that I can preserve or can for the off-season?