Teja loves fresh and organic produce, so she started a garden outside her Los Angeles home. What began as a motley collection of potted plants quickly became a serious endeavor with herbs, fruits, and vegetables that she and her family can eat out of every day. Here's Teja's garden story!
Teja's Garden Story
"Gardening and plants in general have been important to me for as long as I can remember," says Teja, who grew up on a ranch in Santa Ynez. "When I was young, the winery and ranch afforded me the opportunity to wander the land with our dogs, and take walks with my mom, who identified most of the wildflowers and edible plants that grew there."
When she was 8, her family moved to the Los Angeles suburbs, and she missed the wild plants but turned instead to gardening. "When I moved to the LA suburbs, I very much lamented my loss of lupine, poppies, and shooting stars. However, I developed an appreciation and knowledge of more tended gardens and even more about plants here."
Her family continued to grow as much food and different flowers as their little yard could contain. "I ended up growing radishes and sunflowers which instilled me with great pride and a false sense of my gardening ability — since these are probably the easiest things you can grow!" she laughs. "But since then I have loved to tend to a garden. I have incorporated that love even now, even though I have a demanding full time job and a full family life."
What's in the Garden?
Teja has always had a green thumb and it's gone positively bonkers now with her two pomegranate trees, two apple trees, Tahitian lime tree, tea plant, eggplants, herb garden, and edible flowers such as echinacea, nasturtium and lavender. It's a veritable Eden smack in the middle of suburban Los Angeles!
Why Teja Gardens in the City
Teja gardens to explore different flavors and varieties within her foods, to teach her kids where food comes from, and as a stress reliever. "I garden with my children," she says. "I have planted many vegetables, fruits, and herbs in the garden with my toddler. And while he may not understand, every morning I put my infant son into his stroller and push him out to the garden in the morning before I have to leave for work and he comes with me to do some early morning gardening. I try to make this one a daily ritual, but it has gotten harder with an infant and a toddler."
How the Garden Helps Teja's Cooking
Teja uses everything in her garden; it's not just for show. "I use a lot of fresh herbs that I grow, as well as fruits and vegetables, in my cooking, in teas, in bath soaks. It is fantastic to have them so accessible."
As we saw yesterday, she also uses the vegetables to make baby food and to feed her young daughter. "My daughter often snacks in the garden. She’ll nibble on cherry tomatoes, a peach, apples, kumquats, pomegranates, beans, berries, avoid the jalapeños and eggplants."
And her husband enjoys it too — albeit with a little help from small hands! "My husband enjoys the bounty but has less awareness of the garden particulars. One of my favorite stories is that my husband was cooking dinner and the recipe had called for fresh mint. He knew I probably grew it in the garden but had no idea what it looked like, so he asked my then 3-year-old who knows all the plants in the garden and she went and got it for him."
And what's next for Teja's garden? She always has plans! "I am currently working on trying to have more flowers for my daughter, and increasing my drought resistant native plants."
Thank you so much for letting us peek into your garden Teja!
Share your own kitchen renovation or improvement!
We're always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
Show us your kitchen here!