The Kitchen Garden: How to Garden in Four Steps

1. DREAM

A good dream is the first step to a great garden. My dreams are filled with alien-like gourds dangling from trellised archways, woolly thyme pathways, Silver Queen corn with a bad dose of huitlacoche, rows of Aleppo peppers and Tom Thumb lettuce. Dreaming is best done on chilly Sunday mornings in bed, surrounded by books, seed catalogs, and a thick pad of Post-its.

Plucked Before Its Time. An immature Robin’s Koginut Squash from Row 7 Seeds eventually turns a downy bronze when ready.

FOR DREAMING

Amy Goldman

No better deep dive. The Compleat Squash completes me.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog

Lush photos and exhilarating descriptions.

Hudson Valley Seed Co.

Our hometown peeps. Cesare’s sauce tomato? Yes, please.

The Library

Free books! Crazy concept. Try before you buy.

2. PLAN

Nothing about my garden is spontaneous. I plan out my beds meticulously utilizing every tool I can find. Planning a garden should start with how much room you have and what you dream of (see left). A single giant pot might be home to lemon cucumbers, some herbs, and lettuce. A whole backyard should be divvied up into manageable shapes and preconfigured with beauty, maintenance, and crop rotation in mind.

FOR PLANNING

Mother Earth News Garden Planner

No, they don’t pay me. Yes, you need it.

Farmers’ Almanac

Identify your first and last frost days. Not optional.

Johnny’s Seed Starting Date Calendar

Indispensable, especially for indoor starts.

Plastic Photo Boxes

For OCD seed organizers like me.

Wavy Gravy. Wiggly purple Beauregarde Snow Peas hold their color even when cooked.

A Special Thanks to Chef Dan Barber and Row 7 Seeds for their yearlong collaboration on this feature. row7seeds.com

3. PLANT

There are two primary planting periods: “Early” and Memorial Day. Early is “as soon as the ground can be worked.” This is when you plant peas, lettuce, brassicas, favas, and other cool stuff. Memorial Day is when tomatoes and peppers, etc., go in. Succession planting is a necessity when a whole row of head lettuce harvested all at once is too much for your household. I plant a few inches each week. And I’m an aggressive thinner. Worth studying up on: soil health, crop rotation, companion planting, beneficial flowers.

FOR PLANTING

Field Stakes

Ginormous sticks to mark what you’ve planted.

Garden Markers

Writing that remains clear on your field stakes 10 weeks later.

Texas Tomato Cages

They last forever and fold flat for winter.

Google “How We Plant a Tomato: Love Apple Farms”

THE method.

Centercut Squash. Thank you Row 7 for breeding addictive nuttiness into the adorable tromboncino. Pick early and often.

4. HARVEST

A landscaper friend told me once that he plants veggie gardens for people who never harvest from them. This is nuts and should be illegal, IMO. Harvest daily. Grocery shop your garden. Eat what’s ready. Harvest when things are way too small just because you can: filet beans the width of an eyelash, squash no bigger than your pinky, chard leaves nubile enough to eat raw.

FOR HARVESTING

Hot Pink Super-Birkis

My day-to-evening garden clog.

Snippers

Buy two, lose one.

Dynamic Salad Spinner

Up your salad game.

Fake Shaker Baskets

For gathering and Instagramming.

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