The Complete Kitchen Garden


 The first gatherings of the garden in May of salads, radishes and herbs made me feel like a mother about her baby – how could anything so beautiful be mine.  And this emotion of wonder filled me for each vegetable as it was gathered every year.  There is nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling, as gathering the vegetables one has grown.

–  Alice B. Toklas


As I began to harvest my veg garden in late spring, I was looking for new ways to enjoy the harvest.  Of course we eat a lot right away in salad or raw as a snack, but there were some bigger better harvests this year especially with beets, carrots and swiss chard which I had not grown before.

You can see some of the chard in the photo above.  And I wrote about it in a post dedicated to the veg garden so far this year.  But I had chard coming out of my ears and it was huge.  In some cases the leaves were over a foot long.  We sautéed it alone and with other veggies and even put it in a frittata.  I gave some away and pulled all put two bunches I had cut down.  Incidentally, they are growing back so we will have more chard unless Alice our willful roaming deer likes chard too.  

But I was looking for more recipes so I pulled out a garden book I had on the shelves that I had not read yet….sadly I have many as I love to buy them and run out of time to read them.  I was intrigued by the recipes and the way the book was laid out so I thought it would make a great book to review….and I found a great soup recipe for the chard which I will share.



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


 kitchen garden


Author:  Ellen Ecker Ogden

Paperback:  256 pages

Publisher:   Stewart, Tabori and Chang (March 1, 2011)

Amazon Price:  $19.13 (Paperback)






In A Few Words

This unique book is divided into two sections:  The intro which includes how to start a kitchen garden and the kitchen garden designs and recipes.  There are 14 separate designs with various veggies highlighted and over 100 recipes.DSCN9907

In the intro the author takes you through all you need to know to get started from soil to compost, seeds, micronutrients, maintenance, fences/boundaries, tools and style.  All important aspects before you start so you can adequately plan your kitchen garden.  I started with one bed and have had to increase to 5 trying to fit them in as I had no plan when I started.  

Each garden theme has its own chapter.  The chapter begins with an introduction to the theme/design concept, tips for growing this type of garden, a drawing of the design with the plants laid out, then a numbered black and white plan with each of the veggies placed in the garden.  They also include the border which could be fences or shrubs or even other veggies.  Lots of photos of the gardens are included as well as several of the veggies in the garden plan highlighted with growing info.  Then the recipes follow that use many of the veggies growing in this particular design.

At the end of the book are several resources:  basics of design, preserving the bounty, a recipe index and a plant index. 




What I Liked

I liked the idea of different designs for veg/kitchen gardens with recipes.  I love the way you can have a garden that not only IMG_3265tastes good but looks good while its growing.  And there are many ideas on how to lay out the beds for maximum space usage.  Some of the great garden theme/ideas include Salad Lover’s, Cook’s, Culinary Herb, Children’s, Patio, Heirloom Maze, Chef’s and Artist’s to name a few.  

One of my favorite theme names is the Paint Box Garden which is a raised bed garden much like mine in concept but not design.  They bordered this garden with Brussel sprouts, Swiss chard and other bigger veggies.  The info about the veggies highlighted was fascinating and I learned about some different veggies to try.  

But my favorite part is the recipes.  There are recipes for soups, salads, main course dishes, desserts, condiments and garnishes to give the recipe a new twist. Lots of different ideas, and I can never have enough recipes especially for all the Swiss chard we just DSCN0872harvested.  I used quite a bit in their Rainbow Chard Soup with Rosemary.  It was so easy to make and so delicious for summer.  I even made my own gluten free croutons, that were part of the recipe, and they gave the soup a nice crunch.

And I found a design for a Garnish Garden in the book that has loads of edible flowers.  Can’t wait to see how I can incorporate more of these into my potager.




Not So Much

DSCN0757This book is not for those looking for specifics on how to plant and harvest many different veggies.  While there is cursory info about many veggies, if you are a beginner you will need a more detailed reference on how to deal with growing and harvesting each specific veggie you want to grow.  But I do find the book a great inspiration with a plethora of ideas for growing a kitchen garden and utilizing the harvest.




Final Thoughts

If you have a desire to start your own veg garden or you want to give yours a facelift, this is the perfect book to find lots of IMG_2782design ideas.  I plan to mix and match some of the designs as I look to spiff up my veg garden.  And if you want to find lots of delicious new innovative recipes while ogling gorgeous pictures of kitchen gardens, then this is a great recipe book to add to your collection.

I am bookmarking many I want to try like:  Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce and Arugula Pesto with Herbed Ricotta Gnocchi.  Can’t wait for those tomatoes to ripen and the second flush of arugula to start growing.  I am going to have lots of fun cooking my way through this book as I work on my kitchen garden redesign.


Do you grow a vegetable garden?  What is your favorite vegetable to grow or a favorite recipe you can’t wait to make each summer?





Sooner or later, anyone who claims to be a gardener (or Italian) has to grow his own fresh, vine-ripened summer tomatoes.  Resistance is futile…  ~Mike McGrath







Visit my new blog: 

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I wanted to thank all the wonderful people who visited me last Thursday for the inaugural post of my new blog, Living From Happiness.  It is a blog to celebrate life, lessons, change, challenges and creativity.

I do hope you will join me there.  

There will be a new post again this Thursday.



Next up on the blog:  Monday brings the end of the month Garden Journal with another vase utilizing what is currently growing in the garden.  Next Wednesday, I will have another Tree Following post.  

I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday.


All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.




30 Replies to “The Complete Kitchen Garden”

    1. I was thinking of you Kathy when I was perusing the recipes….thinking Kathy would love so many of these recipes especially the chard soup!!

  1. I grew just a little chard this spring, but have concentrated on lots and lots of basil and herbs this year. 🙂
    Sounds like a lovely book Donna. Enjoy your kitchen garden bounty!

  2. Great review! This looks like a very handy book as we are always looking for good recipes for fresh produce, whether from the garden or the farmers market.

  3. Your chard looks beautiful…it doesn’t look like any bugs even took one bite out of it. I like to tear my chard off the stem into pieces, give them a quick blanch, drain and freeze them. They are perfect in a white bean soup during the cold weather.

    1. Karen I was astounded at how gorgeous they were but I did leave them covered for 6-8 weeks…the slugs preferred the lettuces growing next to them.

      I thought about freezing some and kicked myself for pulling up the bunches instead of cutting or tearing…but I am glad we left a couple of bunches so they can grow back for fall. I think I may have to use some in another yummy soup.

  4. I do love your reviews….. My best friend loves to cook and collect cookbooks, but doesn’t garden and she has a great yard that she could, but she thinks she is toxic to plants.. ….. Michelle

  5. This year I grew kale and like your chard, I had so much of it. I grow most vegetables for food to add to recipes like you, but some of the vegetables I leave in the ground to go to seed for insects. The peas and lettuce this year are examples as is all the herbs. I take cuttings of herbs to keep them for indoor use, always having them all winter then. Another benefit to garden vegetables is how pretty they can be mixed in a flower garden. Great for nice photos too.Your chard image is vey nice. I too am using pots this year for my vegetables.

    1. I missed growing kale but have planted some for fall. I also love to leave many veggies and herbs in the ground for them to flower and the insects to enjoy. I especially love to let radishes go to flower. They say planting radishes with cukes and letting them flower helps bring in good insects and keep out the bad. It has worked so far and we shall see if that continues.

      I also bring herbs indoors for winter. I have always wanted to grow veggies in my flower beds but the deer and rabbits would have them mowed down in no time.

  6. Each year, I can hardly wait for that first ripe tomato or my Grandma Nita’s fried squash. They breathe summer in for me. I have that book, btw, and I like it for the recipes. They are quite good. I also have Renee Shepherd’s old kitchen garden books, and I turn to them from time to time. Your chard is quite beautiful!~~Dee

    1. I know what you mean Dee. I hope by my next veg garden post I finally have a ripe tomato. Nice to know you also like this book, and you remind me of Renee’s books I also have. I will have to dig those out.

      I was overwhelmed by the chard but I started it in April and kept it covered until July so that definitely helped.

    1. Jen I am glad I could help….sad you can’t get to eat your chard. I keep my lettuces, kale and chard under a row cover for months and it seems to keep just about everyone away leaving crops for me…

  7. I love, love that McGrath quote! It’s so true. We’re starting to harvest the Tomatoes at the food pantry garden, and it’s always so exciting. Mine are developing more slowly because of the limited sun, but I do have quite a few. Yay! Produce that you grow yourself is so much better. Sounds like an interesting book!

    1. Beth you are amazing to grow tomatoes in limited sun. i was never successful when I tried in the old garden. There is nothing like a fresh tomato right from the garden…it is addicting once you have one!

  8. You do book reviews so well, Donna, making me want to own every one you post about. I love the idea of recipes to complete each chapter. I’ve read a couple of books like that — Kingsolver’s ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ and Wizenberg’s ‘A Homemade Life’. The latter is not about gardening, but it’s a great read. P. x

    1. I have the Kingsolver book I believe in the pile to be read….I will check out the Wizenberg book too!

      Glad you enjoy the reviews Pam. I hope to review a few different type of books on my new blog!

  9. It’s great to see someone else interested in growing vegetables. I like to eat what I grow. My favorite vegetable is crookneck squash, though I also love to grow my own heirloom beans. I like to cook vegetables with chopped fresh ginger and turmeric roots, Shiitake and oyster mushrooms, garlic, and eat with eggs, rice, cooked banana, sometimes broiled eggplant, and top with sour cream. Yum.

    1. Hannah I love how you spice your veggies and craft a meal…I must try a few of these…perhaps you would like to write a book about how to jazz up your veggies and how to eat them with different main dishes!! it would be a most scrumptious book! 🙂

  10. If I ever get to live a second or third lifetime, Donna, I will definitely want to grow my own veggies! The Alice Toklas quote at the beginning says it all!

    1. Alice does say it perfectly. You know if you have a sunny balcony you can grow container veggies! Just saying….. 🙂

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