Notable Edible: Jenny’s Edibles and Blooms
You get a sense of what a hands-on perfectionist Jen Irving is when you visit her home at the end of a quiet street in Falmouth. Between her driveway and back door is a 20x35-foot garden enclosed by a fence made of locust trees harvested from her property. Here in eleven raised beds grow many of 250 varieties of plants offered through her business, Jenny’s Edibles and Blooms. The plants are a riot of color and texture: tender young lettuces in hues of green and red; spiky purple chive blossoms; pea tendrils inching up vertical trellises. In the center of the garden is a huge antique cast iron urn, in the uppermost section of which is planted Japonica Striped Corn, an heirloom ornamental with dark purple tassels and burgundy kernels, surrounded by orange nasturtium.
Irving came to the Cape for the ocean sailing/science community, where she was a faculty captain with SEA Semester, teaching undergraduates and doing oceanographic research under sail. While her time at sea was a phenomenal chapter of her life, Irving didn’t want to spend six months a year at sea for the rest of her life. Once settled on terra firma, she decided to get some shore-side skills, which included going back to school to become a surgical physician assistant and cultivating a garden. She spent hours at the local library perusing garden design. Irving was most inspired by the photos of potagers, which combine the utilitarian function of a traditional kitchen garden with the aesthetics of an ornamental garden. The placement of each plant is considered for its color and shape as well as its flavor and purpose. As Irving neatly sums up, “Practical and beautiful.”
Initially Irving was growing seedlings for her own kitchen garden, but she always had more than she could use herself so she started giving them away to friends. As word spread, demand for her unique and heirloom seedlings grew. At the encouragement of her fiance, Paul Miskovsky, she set up shop in the greenhouse of his landscaping company in Falmouth and began promoting her new business through word of mouth and social media.
All the plants Irving sells are started from seeds in her kitchen on a six-tier grow-light stand that she designed and built herself. One day, Irving would like to save her own seeds, but for now she sources exclusively from heirloom or safe seed pledge sources. She likes to select unique vegetables—gumball-shaped Parisienne Carrots, Turkish Orange Eggplants, Painted Serpent Cucumbers, Red Meat Radishes—you can’t find at the supermarket.
Jenny’s Edibles is only open for six weeks a year starting in early May. A major component of Irving’s promotional activities is bringing in speakers and hosting workshops on topics like cultivating edible mushrooms (May 15), container design (May 22), and creating a year-round garden with Paul Miskovsky (June 5). Every year she hosts a kids’ day (May 29), a big hit with the junior growing set. And on May 14, Irving welcomes back Roger Swain, former host of The Victory Garden on PBS, with tips for success with your own victory garden. At the end of the season, any leftover plants are donated to local nonprofit organizations that have therapy gardens.
Jenny’s Edibles and Blooms
Greenhouse at Miskovsky Landscaping
393 Brick Kiln Road, Falmouth
Open every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 7-June 12, 8:30-4:00 pm