Prep – and plant – your garden like an Eagle County chef
VAIL CO, Colorado
BEAVER CREEK – During spring and summer months, Executive Chef Mark Ferguson at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch grows and cultivates a wide variety of vegetables on the restaurant’s terrace to complement his savory dishes. Ferguson suggests the following steps prior to planting to ensure your summer garden easily flourishes.
• Indoor rooting – Get a head start on spring crops by potting suitable herbs and vegetables indoors, before transplanting outdoors. For example, Ferguson roots Lemongrass seeds in February to ensure Spago has plenty of the savory herb to accent dishes in early spring. Plus, this preparation lessens the tendency to plant prematurely during the seemingly endless spring thaw.
•-Keep scraps for compost smoothie – Rather than establishing a compost pile or bin, Ferguson suggests saving scraps from food preparation prior to planting season. When you’ve collected an amount sufficient for your garden’s expanse, puree the scraps and pour the liquid over the soil, allowing the nutrient-rich mix to compost on-site. Add a little bit of mesquite ash – taking care not to over-nitrogenize the soil – and your garden bed will be ideally enriched for spring planting.
Once the soil is prepped for success, try the following unique (and easy-to-grow) additions to home gardens:
Rainbow chard: According to Ferguson, rainbow chard grows as “easy as a weed.” As soon as the soil can be worked, plant the chard seedlings, sowing them about one inch apart and about 1/2-inch deep in full sun. Chard only requires one planting for the entire year and may be harvested – generally after 50 to 60 days – when leaves are young and tender or when they’re mature and tougher. Rainbow chard has a wide variety of uses. Its young leaves may used as a lettuce in salads, while its mature leaves and stems may be cooked or sauteed to accent a wide variety of recipes. Plus, it adds a unique visual element.
Fava beans: Fava beans take about 85 days to harvest, so it’s best to sow the beans – about one inch deep and four inches apart – in spring as soon as the weather and soil will accommodate. The broad, bushy plant grows best in full sun and soil rich with organic matter and reaches about four feet at maturity. Fava beans are an ideal accent to salads and fresh bruschetta (see recipe below), the beans may also be pureed to create flavorful dips.
For more information or to make reservations at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, call 800-241-3333 or visit http://www.ritzcarlton.com/bachelorgulch. For reservations at Spago, contact the restaurant directly at 970-343-1555.