For one Santa Barbara gardener, harvest season never ends. Here are tips from her extraordinary edible garden
Valerie Rice's 14 1/2- by 29-foot walled garden explodes with edibles all year. Unlike many vegetable gardens, Rice’s yard is designed for looks as well as production. Bamboo trellises turn bean vines into architecture, and apple trees are espaliered near the back wall. In summer, the beds spill with sweet corn, red-speckled beans, lemon cucumbers, and Padrón peppers—“things I can’t find in markets,” she says. In fall, Romanesco broccoli, watermelon radishes, and greens take over.
“The garden takes the guesswork out of menu planning,” says Rice, who feeds her family of four (she and her husband have two daughters, ages 8 and 10) almost entirely from the garden and writes about it on her garden-food blog, eat-drink-garden.com. It also serves as the starting point for frequent dinner parties. “I grab a notebook and head outside a couple of days ahead of time to see what will be ready to harvest.”