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Book Review: The Complete Kitchen Garden

The Complete Kitchen Garden: An Inspired Collection of Garden Designs and 100 Seasonal Recipes

by Ellen Ecker Ogden


256 pages

Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2011

List price: $24.95

With the resurgence of “growing your own,” this book couldn’t be more timely. From her years of experience and learning from other gardeners, Ellen Ogden shares a unique perspective on the kitchen garden. Recognizing that each garden and gardener is unique, Ogden gives us an assortment of garden designs that are suited to varying interests.

Basic gardening information is presented first, and then the real fun begins. Fourteen different garden designs are outlined, each with a different focus. All of the gardens outlined in the book are practical, since they all are composed of edibles, but the gardener’s personality and circumstances are taken into consideration and dictate the focus. For example, The Artist’s Garden gives attention to aesthetics, using the physical characteristics of the edibles such as color and texture. The Patio Garden showcases growing edibles in containers. The Garnish Garden introduces edible flowers into the mix, giving an entirely different look to the kitchen garden.

Recipes using each particular garden’s suggested vegetables, fruits, or herbs are given, so the garden-to-table journey is complete. Out of The Family Garden comes a Vermont Carrot Cake with Maple Frosting. Or how about a Fresh Strawberry Crème Tart?

What I really love about this book is that it gives such a variety of designs that my kitchen garden can have a new look every year for the next fourteen years. That gets me excited about growing beans and peas again.

*Be sure to see Ellen’s article in the May/June issue of Horticulture!

Ellen Ecker Ogden is co-founder of The Cook's Garden seed catalog, America's premier source for seeds and plants (now owned by W. A. Burpee Co.). She is the author of From the Cook's Garden and The Vermont Cheese Book. Her kitchen garden has been featured in national magazines including Martha Stewart Living, Country Gardens, Organic Gardening, Horticulture, the Boston Globe and the New York Times, and she has been a guest on PBS’s Victory Garden and on HGTV. She lives in Vermont.

Read more garden book reviews

Read Kylee Baumle’s blog, Our Little Acre