When it comes to adopting a farm-to-table lifestyle, Molly Yeh is a pro.
The host of Food Network’s Girl Meets Farm, 30, moved from Brooklyn to a farm on the North Dakota-Minnesota border with her husband, Nick Hagen, a fifth-generation farmer. This former city girl’s life now consists of baking with wheat from their fields, hanging out with their flock of chickens, and hunkering down during the cold, cozy winters.
The award-winning cookbook author talked to Us exclusively after the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival earlier this year, explaining her three easy tips for anyone looking to grow their own food.
Tip No. 1 is to not plant everything at once: “Stagger the harvest days and weeks to maturity so that you’re not inundated with all of the tomatoes at once,” she tells Us. “A little goes a long way so just having a couple of cucumber plants will give you more than enough cucumbers, same thing with squash, mostly things on vines.”
Tip No. 2 is to not go overboard and plant too many things: “Think realistically with what you’re going to eat — don’t plant 200 radishes!,” the food blogger explains. “Think realistically about what effort you’re going to put in. For example, after our first very buggy kale harvest we opted not to plant leafy greens anymore and instead buy them at the store because they’re a lot more time-consuming to clean.”
Last up, work out where you are going to put your plants so they don’t crowd each other out. “Think about where things are in relation to the sun because you want your taller plants behind your shorter plants,” the Food Network host tells Us. “Plant the early maturing vegetables next to the vine plants so that the vines don’t grow out and choke out other late-maturing plants, like carrots.” Yeh also explains when it comes to planting, don’t dig a giant hole. “Don’t plant too deeply. Pay attention to the directions on the seed packets as far as how deep and how close together to plant the seeds.”
For those who want to grow their own food but may not have access to a yard? No problem. The Girl Meets Farm star suggests joining a community garden or “offer to garden at a friend’s house who isn’t as into gardening in exchange for giving your friend produce. You can [also] do a few things inside, like herbs or microgreens.”
Fans who follow the Molly on the Range author envy her multicolored cakes, which are tinted with natural ingredients. “I LOVE natural dyeing techniques,” Yeh tells Us. “My go-to ingredients that are also pantry-friendly start with freeze-dried berries. They’re so potent with both flavor and color and can grind up into a fine powder and give you a smooth frosting or cake.” Yeh uses her blender to make purees out of herbs, teas and vegetables including matcha powder for a natural green, beet juice for red and turmeric for yellow. “It’s so fun to get creative with various colors in the kitchen. The challenge is finding how to get enough color without letting the flavor overpower — unless that’s what you want!”
For more of Molly’s tips, watch Girl Meets Farm on Food Network.