Although Mother Nature seems reluctant to let go of winter, the dates on the calendar reassure me that it’s time to dig my hands into the earth and begin planting the Inn’s garden. This will be our fourth year of planting and harvesting our own garden, and I never lose the excitement of watching the first tiny shoots poke up through the soil.
Early spring is always a tricky time of year because I am eager to get the seeds and starter plants in the ground, but I know if I plant too early, the frost could ruin a lot of hard work and planning. There are some vegetables that can be started before the last frosts hit and that is what went into the ground this week. Peas, radishes, and lettuce seeds were planted and I am counting on a few warm days to get their growing cycle started. Although I will hold off until May 15th with planting the remainder of the garden there are always the more hardy herbs that have already started to pop up including thyme, sage, and chives to name a few.
There are so many benefits to having our own garden. As a chef, I am able to grow specific produce that I was unable to get from our purveyors. I also have the option of utilizing certain vegetables and herbs at different points in their growing cycle which gives us more creativity in the kitchen and better taste on the plate. For example, peas can be picked young so the whole pod can be eaten; let them grow and the peas inside are plump and perfectly sweet. Squashes can be picked before the seeds inside begin to grow and make the vegetable spongy. Herbs can be picked when they just pop out of the ground or we can let them flower and use those flowers for garnishes.
Our garden is also better for the environment and it lessens our carbon footprint. Growing locally means we don’t have to rely on produce shipped from faraway places. Everything is planted and harvested by hand. There are no packing materials being used as everything is picked and loaded into a cooler for the quick drive back to the restaurant. It is definitely a good feeling knowing we are doing a small part to better things for the next generation.
The garden has been so successful that we expand it every year. In fact, plans are underway for a green house which will extend our growing season and allow us to start everything from seed!
I will keep you posted on this development if you follow our blog.
For those who are planning their own gardens this year, enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you think that task is too daunting, start simply. Remember that it only takes a small pot, some sun, and a little water to grow some amazing tomatoes or herbs on your deck.