Nature-based living and organic gardening guide from a gardener

Gardening with Gutner talks with Allison Vallin Kostovick about her new book and how nature-based living is important to her.

NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine — Allison Vallin Kostovick is an avid gardener, creator of Finch and Folly, and now an author. Her new book is titled “The Garden Maker’s Book of Wonder.”

“It’s your seasonal guide to living connected with nature both in and out of the garden all year round,” Kostovick explained as she shared lemonade and sugar cookies decorated with edible flowers in her garden with Gardening with Gutner.  

Kostovick embraces the principles of permaculture. 

“Permaculture is a way of working with the nature around you, rather than against it,” she writes in her book. “It’s a sustainable mutually beneficial approach that takes into consideration not only the needs of the gardener but of the garden itself, as well as all the creatures around it.”

It’s from this belief that her charming garden in New Gloucester thrives. 

“Twenty years ago, I started with one bed, and year after year I continued to add on bed by bed. I’m very excited because this year represents a whole redesign in this center area. I’m super happy with how it came out,” Kostovick shared. 

Most of the beds that Kostovick added are built using hugelkultur.

“It uses a lot of your woodland waste that you have. The base are some rotting logs, and branches, and twigs. Then we layer it with some dried dead leaves and at the end of the season we add our green, healthy organic matter on top from the garden. We’ll top that with some compost and then the next spring you’re ready to plant in it,” the writer said.  “Down below it’s decomposing and feeding the plants up above as well as retaining the water and slow release when they need it.”

In addition to hugelkultur, Kostovic uses branch trellises that she makes herself.

“The branch trellis is a wonderful way to grow. Trellises anywhere are a great way to grow especially if you’re limited in space. Grow vertical,” Kostovick said. 

Companion planting plays a key role in the garden as well. 

“Companion planting is the inter-planting of vegetables with herbs and flowers. Creates a nice balanced growing system. A great way to go about it is to think: Things that go well in the kitchen, grow well together in the garden,” Kostovick advised. 

One of her favorite nooks in Kostovick’s garden is where she provides for the animals in her garden. She has created a bug hotel, where insects can come over winter, a bird waterer, a frog and friend miniature pond, as well as a bee bath.  

The flowers blooming all around the garden aren’t just for beauty. They can be eaten as well. The Finch and Folly creator shared cookies and a compound butter that were beautifully decorated with blossoms and petals. 

“One of my favorite ways to use edible flowers is in a compound butter. So you just infuse your butter with some herbs and flowers and that alone tastes great and if you want to go a little extra mile decorate the outside of it with some edible flowers and you’re ready to party,” Kostovic said. 

Tips, recipes, crafts, and inspiration are all part of Kostovic’s new book. What began with a website and social media has evolved into a comprehensive seasonal guide that inspires nature-based living. 

“It’s just such a comforting way to be. We live in such a gorgeous state and I’m so fortunate to live here in the woods. And to be outside as often as you can immersed in all this inspiration. It’s just…it’s just I’m honestly at a loss of words for what it does mean to me,” Kostovic disclosed. “It’s a little bit of everyday magic. You know no matter what your day is you can go step outside into nature and any time of year you will find something that wows you if you slow down long enough to see it.”

To see all the Gardening with Gutner segments click HERE.