Chef’s Retreat: A Garden Tour with Corporate Executive Chef Sherrie Robbins

A few years ago, Claude and I — along with the help of Nicolas Post — created this backdrop for our son’s wedding.


 

 


This space has now become our retreat. I love having my coffee here and contemplating life after a hard day. Come along for a tour!

These antique doors really make me happy. They are all solid wood and have the original glass panes. It took me 9 months to sand them down, white wash them, and put 5 coats of a high quality sealer on them. They look as beautiful in the winter as they do in the summer!


 

 


The yard at our home is totally xeriscaped with raised beds for both vegetables and flowers. Having said that, our yard doesn't offer enough space to have a very large garden in full sun. My neighbors have too many large trees that shade at least half of my yard.

Last summer, I purchased two 2x8 foot raised cedar beds on legs for easy access. I absolutely love these planters. They are easy to access, have greenhouse covers to protect the plants from too much heat and wind, and produce a lot of food! I can start all of the lettuces in early May in these planters and be eating salad by the middle of June.


 

 


This summer I planted more than 45 different varieties of fruits and vegetables between my garden at my house and a garden I have in Firestone, Colorado.

Each place has a different micro-climate creating different sets of challenges.

The garden in Firestone is typically 5 degree’s hotter then the garden at our house. It is in full sun, has a lot of wind, and is drip irrigated.

The garden at my house is hand watered and half of it gets pretty hot as well.

In Firestone, I use little “hoop houses” that I made to protect things like celery, spinach, kale, and romaine from getting full sun.


 

 


This extends the growing season and has worked really well and has also been a tremendous amount of work. There are so many “sticker” plants around this garden that is a challenge to keep the wheels on the wheelbarrow inflated!

This is the first year I have used this space in Firestone. I made a decision early on that I was going to put 4 to 6 inches of wood chips on the entire garden to help retain moisture, keep the weeds at bay, and help build and loosen the clay in the soil.


 

 


Next year, I will just hoe a trench, plant the seeds in the dirt in the trench, and wait for them to grow a bit. Then the wood chips will just be pushed back around the seedlings.

This garden will never be tilled again. So in future years, part of the labor will be cut down because I have a good base of wood chips down now thanks to the Ramirez Family Wood-Chip Volunteer Team!


 

 


There are both chickens and rabbits at the farm in Firestone so there is plenty of fertilizer to layout in the garden.

I will begin using the “chop and drop” method of building the soil in the fall when I pull up plants that are done producing. Those plants will be cut up, and laid on top of the wood chips. A layer of chicken poop and the bedding straw will be put on top of that to decompose over the winter.

Gardening is a form of meditation for me. Much like fly-fishing, it is peaceful and rewarding. Gardening takes me back in time to standing in a garden with my grandmother. I think she would be so proud of these two gardens I have created.

I thought you might like to see some of today’s harvest!


 

 


I have got to get to work cooking the beans, shelling the peas and fava beans, making some tomatillo salsa, braising the kale, onions, and zucchini —- and freezing the garden’s bounty.

The bok choy is eaten raw and chopped up for salads or stir-fried with other veggies for yummy asian style dishes.

Basil either becomes pesto or is put in a blender with a little olive oil and then packed into ice cube tray to freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, I just pop them out and put them in freezer storage containers.

The dragon’s blood beans are cooked on the stovetop with ham or bacon scraps and onions before frozen.

I am beginning to prepare for the Guild’s “High-on-the-Hog” Farm to Table Dinner on August 13th. We will be enjoying a roasted pig and 4 courses of vegetables from the garden to round out the dinner along with a delicious dessert prepared by Chef de Cuisine Jocelyne Fay.

If you are planning on attending, reserve your spot now as space is limited. The cost is $85 per person and includes wine pairings for each course.

More Questions? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

 

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