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Maplewood's Monarch Restaurant Has Its Own Garden 'Round Back

Monarch Restaurant Sous Chef Ricky Lewis (left) and Monarch Executive Chef Josh Galliano take a break from toiling in the garden, which is located behind their popular Maplewood dining establishment. (click for larger version)
May 20, 2011
Monarch Executive Chef Josh Galliano and Sous Chef Ricky Lewis have teamed up with local farmers and constructed a 72-foot by 12-foot garden located directly behind Monarch Restaurant in Maplewood.

In an effort to become more environmentally friendly and gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to get food on our tables, Lewis and Galliano are working on making the garden a dynamic and year-round resource. The garden will produce many of the mainstays found in Monarch's kitchen, from okra to potatoes, but it will also be the source for items hard to find around St. Louis.

"Specifically, we'll plant crowder and purple hull peas since these are the field peas that Josh's grandfather used to grow and cook all the time," Lewis said.

Description of Garden

The garden is divided into three plots.

One is full of cover crops like clover and buckwheat. The cover crops help to balance the nutrients in the soil during the growing season. The cover crops will help the soil prior to the planting of garlic and crosnes in the fall.

Planted in the center plot are fingerling and peewee potatoes, kale, collards (from Walker Claridge at the Root Cellar), beets, okra, summer squash, and hot peppers like cayenne and habanero (for Monarch's house made hot sauce).

The last plot consists mainly of herbs like anise hyssop, lemon balm and basil. Fig trees and elderberry bushes are planted in that plot as well.

Nasturtium is planted in front of the raised bed, and acts as a pest repellent for the other plants and is also a great salad green. In the front of the garden, by the parking lot, are hop rhizomes from Justin at Yellow Tree Farm.

"It's tough to balance the needs of a busy kitchen with the needs of a large garden. We'll get out of the garden as much as we can grow and find time to pick. Throughout the year, we'll learn what works in our garden and what we don't have a green thumb for growing," Lewis said.

Lewis and Galliano are fairly pragmatic about their garden adventure.

"It is an adventure where we hope to create great food from well-tended ingredients. Plus, we know that Monarch's garden will become a community garden as our neighbors will take advantage of our (hoped for) bounty.

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