29 May 2009

what's been planted, Jay?

Hey let me tell you what I've planted--
In front of the house:
  • roma tomato seeds in a pot. will thin to one or two plants in couple weeks.
In the 'herb garden' area close to the back patio:
  • cilantro, dill, sweet marjoram, basil (basil never sprouted)
  • a kitchen onion that had gone to sprout
  • a strawberry plant
  • some radishes and 'mesclun' salad mix in a large planter
  • something planted with chive seeds that grew a seedling, possibly from a wandering 'whirligig'/maple seed. will need to reseed chives elsewhere definitely.
The mesclun and possibly the radishes are about ready to harvest--they did great in the mostly cool damp (with a couple of hot sunny day) weather. If I harvest everything in that planter, I will reseed with the same.

In the two dirt patches/beds to the side and back of house:
  • mint ('peppermint') seeds (nothing doing)
  • wildflower mix (also nothing yet.)
  • three assorted green bean plants in a pot
I'll probably either attempt to reseed the mint or just buy some baby plants and stick them in a big pot. Tea, juleps, mojitos--and the list goes on.

In the back garden plot:
  • three tomato plants, one cherry and two round heirloom types
  • basil
  • rosemary, french lavender
  • sunflowers
  • carrots
  • zucchini and cucumber seeds (nothing came up)
  • and most recently I planted a bunch of vegetables--peppers, pickle cucumbers, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprout.
  • and I have a few cantaloupe plants still in containers.
At my house I have some basil in the window, and a pot growing garlic cloves--the shoot is chive or green onion-like and good on potatoes.
Seeds still to plant: sweet peas, sweet corn, chives, more basil (i love basil), mint, more green beans, more radishes and lettuce, and probably some other stuff too. May have to just buy some zucchini plants. Also need something to grow the peas on, more potting soil, another tomato cage, some stakes, and possibly something soft to kneel on. Because I've been planting so much my knees are bruised!

28 April 2009


I am trying my luck this year starting and maintaining a backyard vegetable, herb, edible flower, and fruit garden. I myself live in Rogers Park, which is the northernmost neighborhood of Chicago, right where it abuts Evanston. I live in a rented condo without garden access or a balcony, so besides what I can grow indoors and in window sills, I have been at a loss to achieve a really productive garden. My good friend Levi lives in a small house in the northern Chicago suburban periphery--he is not particularly into gardening as far as I can tell, so when I offered to put in a garden in his dog-scattered and somewhat torn up back yard he quickly agreed. I want to get the most bang for my buck considering it's 35.5 miles from my front door to his, so I am carefully planning how I can squeeze every drop of usefulness out of it.

I plan on using as few store-bought materials and chemicals as possible. I am looking into vermiculture, and planning on making a mulch bin, and a compost area. I intend on scavenging and otherwise gathering as many materials as I can from what is being thrown out or otherwise free for the taking.
My preliminary list of what I wish to grow includes:
strawberries, basil (sweet, and maybe a spicier variety), dill, chives, flat parsley, mint, tomatoes (at least a few kinds), sunflowers, perhaps nasturtiums, radishes including daikon (i want to make daikon pickles), lettuces, and sweet corn (Levi wants sweet corn.) I am curious about cucumbers, grapes, kale, peppers, and zucchini. If all I grow is a bunch of tomatoes and basil for weeks, I would consider it a success and make lots of pesto and margherita pizza
I am also trying a few smaller scale ideas at my own apartment. This would include sprouting seeds just for sprouts, which I have come to realize is the simplest thing ever and *you* should try it, canning the peaches off my parents' peach tree once they are ready, and tucking onions and garlic that got "lost" in the pantry and have gone to shoots into pots and snipping the shoots off for yummy baked potato toppings. Unfortunately I can't do much more here, given I have cats who knock things over for amusement, and little direct sunlight. I've thought about trying mushroom cultivation.

I'm open to suggestions, be they vegetable, book, website, etc.
Levi lives quite close to the Lake County University Extension office, and they and their master gardenders might be hearing from me soon.