In the Garden with Chef Kate: Tips to Get Growing

Last year saw the introduction of a Chef’s Demonstration Garden to The Settlers Inn. The inaugural garden yielded a bumper crop of vegetables and  herbs that were utilized in the restaurant’s dishes and was a hit with visitors. So, this year we expanded the Chef’s Demonstration Garden with all new plantings.

Ideas Take Root

The project was spearheaded by Executive Chef Kate Woehrle who’s as passionate about gardening as she is about cooking. When it came to inspiration, Chef Kate had to look no further than Settlers Founder Grant Genzlinger. Grant was always eager to share his knowledge and lend a helping hand. We asked Chef Kate to share some tips to help budding gardeners get growing.

If planting a garden for the first time, what are some things to consider?

Location. You’ll want a spot where it is sunny, also close to your water source. Think about where you’re putting each plant. For example, don’t plant corn in front of tomatoes, they’ll block the tomatoes from getting any sun. Also, be prepared to fail. Not everything you plant will grow and not everything that grows will produce. Plants are fickle.

When is it “safe” to begin planting in NEPA?

Usually after Mother’s Day (mid-May), but always pay attention to the weather and check for frost.

Which plants and vegetables would you say thrive in this area?

Zinnias grow well, as do peonies. Peonies are a beautiful early summer flower. Ornamental grasses add texture and interest to a landscape. Typical annuals like pansies and petunias add instant color. Tulips, alyssum, phlox, columbine, sunflowers, daffodils, morning glories, roses are good choices too. Some veggies that grow well- zucchini, radishes, peas, broccolini, corn, carrots, beets and eggplant. Pretty much any herb can grow here. Basil is very popular; you just have to remember to pick the tops of it, so it continues to bush out and not flower.

Are some vegetables incompatible, meaning they should not be grown next to/near each other? Why?

Yes. I always refer to the Farmers Almanac for guidance.

What are some things you can plant that will yield throughout the season?

Vegetables all have a time when they are ready to be picked, so I can’t really think of one individual that would be available all season. Radishes only take 29 days or so to grow, so they can be planted three times in one season.

What’s an uncommon fruit/vegetable you would recommend home gardeners try to grow?

Romanesco cauliflower. It’s a beautiful varietal of cauliflower that you can utilize like your run of the mill white cauliflower, but it has a better flavor. Personally, I like it roasted.

Can you talk a little bit about care and maintenance once the garden is planted?

Always water your garden thoroughly after planting anything. On really hot days, water in the morning or the evening. Try to water when the ground is dry, overwatering will cause plants to rot. Weed as needed. Beware of the deer and other critters who like what you’re growing. It’s wise to put a fence around your plants.

Have you planted anything new in the Chef’s Demonstration Garden  this year?

We planted completely different things from last year, except for lemongrass. We love our lemongrass. We planted; carrots, beets, cucamelons, radish, corn and peas.

What was the response to the Chef’s Demonstration Garden last year?

Everyone was just as excited as I was to see everything growing. Watching a seed, you planted pop out of the ground elicits joy and I loved sharing that with our guests.

What are you most looking forward to with the Chef’s Demonstration Garden this season?

Cucamelons! A cucumber that looks like a watermelon. They’re able to be pickled, used in salads or even a cocktail!

Get Inn-spired

Visit The Settlers Inn anytime to stroll the gardens and gather inspiration. You can even enjoy a meal outdoors amid the blooms and taste the fruits of our labor with selections from the restaurant’s farm-to-table menu. Call 570-226-2993 for reservations.