Cooksey Farms Is About Gardening With Gratitude

Alison Cooksey from the Bay Area-based gardening adventure she calls Cooksey Farms tells us about potato cucumbers and seed starting experiments.

by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: Cooksey Farms

Alison Cooksey of the Cooksey Farms social media account proudly calls her Bay Area-based hobby farm a “trial and error” project. In practice, this means taking bold decisions in the garden and paying attention to how the natural results unfold.

“I always knew I wanted to garden because I grew up watching my dad garden. I always thought it was neat how he essentially created a mini-farm in our backyard,” recalls Cooksey of her initial interest in growing produce. “I was inspired by seeing how proud he was, coming inside with things he grew to cook for dinner. Once I finally got my own home, I couldn’t wait to start my own garden.”

We spoke to Cooksey about the gratifying nature of gardening and planting peppers in December. We also got the scoop on a little something called potato cucumbers.

Embracing Experimentation

When it comes to embracing experimentation in the garden, Cooksey points to planting pepper seeds in December as a risk that paid off.

“I felt that it was too early to start them, as last year I didn’t start the seeds until March,” explains Cooksey, “but my peppers barely produced by the time it got too cold. Someone I talked to who lives in a warmer climate than I do said they start their pepper seeds in December. So I decided I’d try it and see what happened.”

Reaping the benefits of planting boldly, Cooksey says the peppers “have done exceptionally well this year. They produced early and have been very prolific!”

Playing with Seed Starting

Building on the experimental streak, Cooksey says that playing around with seed starting has also proven fruitful.

“I’ve found that I have had the best success starting seeds hydroponically. The seedlings get the right amount of water and light, and it takes a lot of the babysitting of seedlings away. All of my hydroponic starts were some of the strongest and healthiest plants I’ve ever had!”

Peppers, Tomatoes & Cucumbers

Looking over this year’s bounty from the garden, Cooksey says peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers emerged as leading success stories. “It’s been nice to be able to have enough to eat and also share with friends and family for once,” says Cooksey.

“As far as incorporating my produce into cooking,” she continues, “I’ve been adding peppers and tomatoes to almost every dish. Sometimes it feels like I’m on the cooking show Chopped. I look at what I have in the garden and in the pantry, and I see what I can make!”

Get to Know Potato Cucumbers

If you take a moment to enjoy the Cooksey Farms Instagram account, you’ll notice the presence of some eye-catching potato cucumbers. “The potato cucumbers are definitely unique,” says Cooksey. “They are a smaller, bushier variety, but sadly they haven’t been very prolific for me. But that could be due to a few factors. I put my plant in a grow bag, so next year I’ll try it in a larger container or in a raised bed and see if that helps.”

Despite not being the most prolific feature of the garden, Cooksey says the potato cucumbers taste “fantastic” and resemble “Persian cucumbers with a thinner skin and a nice almost lemon-like tint.”

A Grateful Ecosystem

“I think it’s just so gratifying to see a tiny seed that was planted turn into a large plant that can feed me,” says Cooksey, reflecting on the holistic joy of the garden. “Or if it’s something like flowers, being able to grow things that can help bees and other beneficial insects—which in turn helps them pollinate my other plants! It’s just so fascinating to be able to create a little ecosystem in my own backyard.”

Follow Cooksey Farms on Instagram.

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