After dinner this evening, I decided to tag along with Hannah, who works in the gardens here at the inn, to get a more in depth tour of what they’re growing! I walk through the gardens a couple times a day, so I was really excited to learn some of the details. FYI, The Stanford Inn gardens mentioned here are different from the Grow Biointensive garden that I wrote about earlier on the blog.
Lettuce begin this garden tour with some lettuce! (Ha ha, so punny). Here at the inn, we can grow lettuce outside year-round since we’re on the coast, meaning that it doesn’t get too hot in the summer (which would cause the lettuce to bolt), and also doesn’t freeze in the winter.
Also, Hannah pointed out the hexagonal shape that they use to plant their lettuce (if you can’t see it, try finding the diagonals, rather than straight lines). This is done to ensure that each plant has the same exact amount of space in every direction!
Some gorgeous flowers caught my eye at the end of the lettuce bed, with violets, golden yellows, and lavenders fading into one another. Hannah explained that these delicate-looking flowers are actually edible, and that this particular variety are Johnny Jump-ups (love the name). Once she mentioned that, I realized I totally recognized them from the restaurant. We use them to garnish dishes! Too cool.
Other edible flowers grown around the garden include bachelor buttons, fuchsia, different types of roses, and sweet alyssum. While much of the garden is edible now, they’re in the process of converting to an entirely edible garden. And all of their produce goes straight to The Ravens’ kitchen to be used in the restaurant!
In the next bed over, we came across radishes and parsley, grown using intercropping. This means that different types of plants share the same bed. Hannah explained that this is done because radishes and parsley not only grow well together, but mainly because they’re harvested at different times. So, you can get more harvests out of the same bed in a shorter amount of time between the two crops!
Other herbs that are grown in the garden (in addition to parsley): mint, thyme, sage, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, and cilantro.
Another interesting technique used: planting marigolds at the end of beds for pest control. Hannah explained that cucumber beetles are one of their biggest problems when it comes to growing crops. Since cucumber beetles (see below!) are attracted to red, yellow, and orange, planting marigolds at the end of each bed causes them to eat those instead of the crops.
Other pest problem? Gophers! You could see where they had uprooted some onions, and as we were talking the sound of a gopher chomping down on something in a different part of the garden caught Hannah’s attention (though I wouldn’t have been able to tell!).
Next stop on the tour, these empty-looking beds (see below), which Hannah explained that she had just cover cropped. Not too long ago, they had been totally overtaken by weeds, and in order to successfully produce crops, Hannah had just planted a bunch of different types of legumes and clover, which are great for the soil. She explained that this will help the soil get back its health after the millions of seeds that had been dropped by the weeds. Since the farm is not only organic but also vegan, they don’t use any type of animal manure or fish emulsion that are typical of other organic farms. Because of this, they’re particularly sensitive to keeping the soil healthy by methods like cover cropping. Though it might take longer, it’s much more sustainable in the long run.
Next to the cover cropped stretch was this beautiful trellis, built to support cranberry beans that had just been planted.
And some really beautiful squash flowers!
Also really neat: a guava tree. Check out that flower. So exotic!
The garden also has apple, pear, and fig trees. Astonishingly, they’re over 150 years old and still producing fruit! We ended a tour with a very tart apple, plucked straight from the tree. Not exactly ripe yet, but delicious nonetheless.
This article was written by monica