We’re excited to share an interview with our very own Daniel, chef of Bounty & Bloom Kitchen and his partner, Tanner, both herbalists and lifelong gardeners. ūüĆĪ

start your functional gardenPlease introduce yourselves and tell me about yourselves.

We are Tanner & Daniel, locals of Cambria, CA, plant lovers and avid gardeners. Tanner comes from a family of farmers in California’s Central Valley, and has worked¬†with plants in many capacities for most of his life. Daniel has been called to the outdoors from childhood, which¬†led him to his first agricultural experience¬†through the WWOOF organization during his first summer after college. Since then, gardening and farming have always had a special place in his life.

What first got you interested in gardening?

We are both drawn to this practice of tending the earth and harnessing the powers of nature to grow food, medicine, and beauty. It has been healing on so many levels. It’s a physical, spiritual, emotional,¬†educational, and grounding exchange that we look forward to as the seasons progress.

How has your gardening journey evolved?

Since our youth, we’ve both relished any time we get to spend outside. From working¬†in agriculture, to learning about the vast world of herbalism, we have refined our process to include growing all sorts of things, from food crops and flowers to herbs and medicinal plants, too.

What is a Functional Garden?

A Functional Garden is designed with a specific purpose in mind, rather than just for aesthetics or ornamental purposes. These gardens provide practical benefits to the gardener, such as food or medicinal plant production, or natural pest control, while often still incorporating visually appealing elements. Some examples include edible gardens, medicinal gardens, wildlife-friendly gardens, pollinator gardens, rain gardens, native plant gardens, and therapeutic gardens. Many gardeners choose to combine various elements from these categories to create a multifunctional space that offers several benefits. Something small and compact, like a few pots on a window sill or a small patio can be a functional garden. As long as the process brings a sense of joy, nourishment and purpose, whether through nutrients digested in the form of leafy greens, medicinal plants turned into topical oils or teas with calendula or lemon balm, or even cut flowers like sweet peas or dahlias, every garden has the potential to be functional.

How do you start a Functional Garden?

Just do it! Dive in with a¬†plant that piques your interest. Start small with culinary herbs or medicinal plants or flowers that are common and easy for beginning gardeners. Parsley, cilantro, or chives are great to have around to throw into your favorite dishes in the kitchen and are generally easy to start, and they do well in containers. Medicinals like calendula, lemon balm (plant in a container or it will take over your garden!), or chamomile, are also user friendly. And we can’t forget flowers! Flowers that are native to your area are a great way to work with plants that are common in your region and are adapted to growing in your climate. We love flowers for the brightness and beauty they bring, as their essence fills the heart, soul and garden with joy. Not to mention the¬†abundance they provide for pollinators, which many other plants will gladly have around.

What tips do you have for beginner gardeners?start your functional garden, daniel planting seeds

Experiment and have fun!  Make friends with the folks at your local nursery. Take field trips to the nursery to window shop and browse to see which plants are thriving. Ask questions and find out what the nursery has to offer in terms of advice or perhaps even classes or workshops. We also like to take note of local gardens in our neighborhood to see what plants or styles of gardening catch our eye, that way, if we go to the nursery we have some inspiration to work with. Consider some of the following when choosing plants to grow: sunlight needs (how much or how little natural light does the plant need), soil requirements for the plant (consider doing a soil test if you are going to plant directly in the ground), and definitely consider watering needs.

Do you have a favorite plant you enjoy working with?

We enjoy growing food and medicinal plants, but a big¬†love of ours¬†is flowers. Simply for the pure joy they bring. We love the color they add to the garden as well as the nourishment they provide for pollinators. We also¬†gravitate to flowers and medicinals that self seed, which means once they are introduced into your garden you’ll probably have them around forever. Some examples include calendula, borage, peppermint and spearmint (other good candidates for containers as they will spread rapidly), chamomile, lemon balm, feverfew, rose geranium, poppies, nasturtiums, rosemary, thyme, and the list goes on!

Any resources, etc to share?

Some popular books include “The Well-Tempered Garden” by Christopher Lloyd, “Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew, and “Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening” by Deborah L. Martin. Some well-known sites include Gardeners’ World (gardenersworld.com), The Spruce (thespruce.com), and The Old Farmer’s Almanac (almanac.com). Additionally, YouTube has many gardening channels that provide step-by-step tutorials and tips. Other great resources are local garden centers and nurseries, extension centers through local colleges and universities, local gardening clubs and societies, gardening courses, and even social media platforms like Instagram have a great abundance of gardening content. Remember that gardening is a continuous learning process, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek advice from experienced gardeners. Trial and error are also essential parts of the gardening journey, so be patient and enjoy the process.