TSG TIP: Prepping Your Garden for Spring

Despite Southern California’s mild winters, come March, we’re yearning for spring. As is Ashley Irene of Heirloom Potager. In 2020, Ashley translated a lifelong love of gardening into Heirloom Potager, a garden design and coaching service that designs extraordinary edible gardens and landscapes tailored to the (quite literal) tastes of discerning Newport homeowners, award-winning chefs, and restauranteurs. As unique as they are bountiful, each Heirloom Potager-designed garden reflects the property, history, and growing dreams her clients in a verdant celebration of our region’s fertile climate.

Where some would-be gardeners are stumped by Orange County’s year-round growing season — most seed packets and garden books focus on seasonal or growing zone planting, after all — Heirloom Potager offers a decidedly local perspective and approach. “The Southern California Mediterranean climate provides an opportunity for growing year-round,” Ashley explains, “which teaches us to focus more on the weather.” And with temps inching towards “warm,” the time to prep for warm-season favorites like fresh beans, juicy strawberries, and vine-ripe tomatoes is now.

Here, Heirloom Potager shares prolific, Orange County-specific knowledge to help you create an edible garden fit for spring temperatures, including what to grow, how to use it, and a recipe fit for your bounty.

Create a planting plan. The Heirloom Potager growing philosophy is simple: grow what you love and eat what you grow. Whether you want to honor family heritage, love cooking a specific cuisine, or just want to add more color to your plate, there is a kitchen garden design to feed your creative palate. To find it, make a list of staples and favorites then cross-reference with the Heirloom Potager Growing Guides, which will help you identify the growing season for your selections. For example, Spring welcomes Blue Cream cherry tomatoes, Okinawa spinach, Trionfo Violetto pole beans, Persian cucumbers, French Breakfast radishes, and dazzling Blue kale.

Refresh soil and check irrigation. To ensure you’re eating the most nutritionally dense produce available, Heirloom Potager recommends refreshing your edible garden with organic compost and worm castings between growing seasons. This practice helps ensure the health of your garden soil and provides new plants with the resources needed for ample harvests. As the weather warms up, adjust your garden’s watering accordingly, inspecting the irrigation system (Heirloom Potager recommends a drip irrigation system) for leaks and water efficiency. Pro Tip: To help retain soil moisture during the warm season, top dress with 3-4 inches of finely ground mulch. This layer will naturally break down over the season, help regulate soil temperature, and keep water where you need it most – near the roots of your plants. This works well for outdoor potted plants as well.

Harvest weekly. One of the best parts of growing an edible garden is the calming ritual of harvesting fresh herbs and produce. To enjoy — and care for — your edible garden to its fullest, Heirloom Potager recommends “shopping” it weekly. Not only will harvesting weekly help keep plants in growing mode, but it’s also a built-in opportunity to analyze your garden’s health. Check for pests, review soil moisture, and succession sow with new seeds or seedlings to prolong the growing period. Pro Tip: During the warm season, Heirloom Potager recommends succession sowing crops like radishes, beans, and arugula.



How to Grow: To prolong the health of tomatoes well into the summer, plant in a location that receives morning light and afternoon shade. Small fruits are prone to cracking with water fluctuations. A few inches of mulch keeps soil damp and plants happy.
How to Enjoy: These sweet, small, and prolific gems are delicious right off the vine. Serve blistered with creamy burrata, mint and basil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.


How to Grow: This perennial plant grows similar to a boxwood, preferring full sun or partial shade. And with shiny dark green leaves boasting a purple underside, Okinawa spinach makes for a stunning addition to an edible landscape.
How to Enjoy: Harvest fresh from the garden for salads any time of the year, or enjoy in light soups, steamed, or a quick stir-fry inspired dish.


How to Grow: Pole beans vine around arbors and flat panel trellis in full sun. Grow alongside tomatoes and cucumbers and harvest often for a steady supply of fresh beans.
How to Enjoy: This stunning deep-purple fresh green bean is beautiful in a quick pickle to accompany your next charcuterie board.


How to Grow: Long, pale green cucumbers with a melon undertone need tall trellis support and full sun. This variety really takes off in our hot summers.
How to Enjoy: Mix with fresh cubed melons, mint, sweet basil, and crumbled fresh goat cheese.


How to Grow: Tuck radish seeds along the edge of raised garden beds and thin out early sprouts to top morning breakfast toasts or lunch salads. Harvest radishes when they reach 1-inch for tender, crisp crops.
How to Enjoy: Small and crisp, these mild round radishes are best when sliced thinly and layered into a frittata filled with tender herbs.


How to Grow: A great variety for year-round growing that thrives in full-sun or partial shade. Grows well next to peppers, arugula, beets, and summer squash.
How to Enjoy: Toss kale in lemon juice and saute quickly with roasted sweet potato and top with a backyard fresh fried egg.


Seasonal eating is at the heart of Heirloom Potager’s growing philosophy. As avid cooks the Heirloom Potager team looks to what’s fresh in their garden at mealtime. The result? A growing collection of inspired recipes utilizing garden-fresh ingredients. In celebration of the transition from a cool to warm growing season, Heirloom Potager has combined two garden staples into one herby spread they dub, Green Goddess Hummus.


1 1/2 cups hydrated garbanzo beans/chickpeas (approximately 1 can), drained (reserve water brine)

2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)

1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1/4 cup fresh chives or scallions, chopped

1/2 cup mixed, fresh tender herbs, roughly chopped – basil, tarragon, mint

2 roasted garlic cloves

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 small, ripe avocado, peeled

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

Splash of tarragon vinegar (Can substitute apple cider or white wine vinegar)

Pinch of sea salt

Glug of really good extra virgin olive oil (Pro Tip: Use garlic-infused oil)

Optional: 1 jalapeño, seeded + roughly chopped


Drain the hydrated garbanzo beans reserving the liquid to help thin the hummus, as needed.

Place in a high-powered blender with tahini, roasted garlic, fresh herbs, lemon juice, thyme, avocado, jalapeño (if using), ground pepper, and a small pinch of sea salt. Blend at high speed until smooth, scraping down the sides if needed. If the mixture is not blending well, add 1-2 teaspoons of reserved bean liquid to help thin.

Add one circle of olive oil (about 2 teaspoons) and blend again.

Place hummus in a shallow bowl or large serving platter. Garnish with minced fresh herbs and olive oil. Sprinkle with pepper and flaky salt for extra visual appeal.

Serve the hummus with warm flatbread and fresh garden veggies. Excellent accompaniment with spicy roasted cauliflower, roasted pork or fish, or grilled chicken.

To prepare for a bountiful season of garden-to-table eating, tap Heirloom Potager for culinary garden design and coaching. Don’t forget to tell her Scout sent you!

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