There is something deeply satisfying about eating directly from the garden. The fruit of one’s own labor really does taste sweeter. As my husband, George, and I finish another year of living full-time in our cedar-shingle cottage in upstate New York, the garden we have created together–full of native plants and heirloom vegetables–feeds us in so many ways.
George Billard for Gardenista. Above: Our modest half-acre is surrounded by tall pines that rob us of precious sunshine. We began our garden with a couple of raised beds in the back. Those have now quadrupled and spread to the front as well, maximizing our growing area. Above: At this rate, there will soon be no lawn at all. That’s fine with us. Above: Hops nearly cover our little barn out back, which serves as a writing room and guest quarters. Other crops that do well in these beds include sorrel, horseradish, lovage, shiso, amaranth, kale, garlic, scallions, hot peppers, rhubarb, squash, and catnip. Cucumbers climb over the fence, obscuring the clematis that bloomed so profusely in June.
The tender shoots of hops are a traditional Italian dish; they’re delicious in a spring omelette. In fall, we harvest the beautiful flowers for brewer friends who make gluten-free beer for George.
Above: Field garlic, transplanted from the wild, and echinacea both find their way into the kitchen. I make an elixir with citrus and the dried flower heads to ward off flu in the winter. Above: George grows potatoes in these wooden barrels (and extra tomatoes and cucumbers, because he can never have enough), building them up with wire cages and straw. Above: These Mexican sour gherkins, a new addition this year, have really taken off. They drop from the stems when ripe, at which point I’ll pickle them in a spicy brine. Above: A hard pruning made our black raspberries more prolific this month–and for once, the birds and chipmunks did not make off with every last one. I used the berries as topping for a delicious cornmeal skillet cake.