Organic vegetable gardens: Have your cake and eat it too

Vegetable gardens can be just as beautiful, or even more stunning than purely ornamental gardens.

Artichoke flower at the organic garden in Carmel Valley Ranch.
Artichoke flower at the organic garden in Carmel Valley Ranch.

Sitting here, munching on an arugula salad with cucumbers picked from our little organic vegetable garden, I am truly grateful for all those that have inspired me to grow some of my own veggies. It is a wonderful experience watching the plants grow this year and to celebrate our successes periodically as tomatoes and cucumbers ripen.

The few vegetables we do grow hardly satisfy our appetite for rabbit food. For the rest of our green leafy diet, I source from local farms. I joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at a local farm and I haven’t looked back since. Not only do I know who is growing my food, but also it is some of the freshest, most delicious vegetables I have ever had. I couldn’t imagine life without them.

For those that have not tried growing vegetables yet, I hope these photos that we took on a recent trip to Carmel Valley Ranch will provide some inspiration. The 500 acre property has its own organic garden which is the source of some of the produce used at the Lodge restaurant on the resort property.

What these gardens demonstrate is that vegetable gardens can be just as beautiful, or even more stunning than purely ornamental gardens. It is nice to not only enjoy a garden visually, but know that you can eat it as well. In fact, part of the reason I love the look of Chard (the vegetable, not the wine) is because it reminds me of the last Chard dish I had.

While writing this article, Clint, my other half, did want to point out that it is never a bad idea to throw a piece of steak on the side with your veggies!

Organic Gardens at Carmel Valley Ranch
This sunflower made me feel like I was in Alice in Wonderland. I love sunflower seeds and also pumpkin seeds in dishes. Toasted, they add a "je ne sais quoi" to almost any dish.
Organic Gardens at Carmel Valley Ranch
I think I like the look of artichokes more than I like eating them... Incredible showy flowers. The bees were loving them.
Organic Gardens of Carmel Valley Ranch
I spy, is that a pumpkin?
Basil
Some of this basil was in the salad I ate that evening at the Lodge Restaurant.
Organic Gardens at Carmel Valley Ranch
I love not only the colors, but the incredible variations of textures across these vegetable garden beds. There is a sculptural quality to it, almost a merging of concepts from European Medieval gardens and the later introduction of Renaissance gardens.
Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad
This was my favorite dish of the evening at the Lodge Restaurant. It was heirloom tomatoes (not from the onsite garden since the tomatoes were not ripe yet), burrata (like mozzarella but so much more interesting), and a few leaves of basil (from the onsite garden). Drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. WIth fresh, quality ingredients, this dish is fool proof.
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  • Jp

    Loni

    thanks for a beautiful review of our garden. we’re thrilled with the results and that people are recognizing not just that beauty and utilitarian nature of our garden but that they can do the same at home.

    Cheers!

    John Pritzker

    PS: Obviously Clint didn’t notice our herd of New York Strip cattle on the side of the garden!