Category Archives: gardening

A New Garden Addition

Today Bella helped me setup a new addition in the garden.  Actually, she stood next to me for an hour or so and then managed to hand me hand trowel once so she gets to say she helped.  Ah, two year olds…

Anyway, I added a 2 x 4ft garden with a 5ft trellis on the back. Cucumbers in and Kentucky Blue Beans sowed.  Radishes to be added in front of the cucumbers soon.

Day of the Garden

Today was the Day of the Garden! I spent a good part of this 85° mid-May day getting the back garden set for summer. I tied grape vines to the lattice in hopes of training them for full coverage, cleaned out the herb garden and gave it a deep watering. I was pleasantly surprised to find the blooming sage buzzing with bees, which is a great sign for the summer. Even though we’ve only had about a month of good growing weather, the 20 foot raised herb and grape garden is looking abundant!

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I also tended to my 12 x 4 square foot garden. The 16 sq. ft. of kale, swiss chard and spinach I planted earlier this spring is coming along nicely and the spinach that made it through the winter is starting to get out of hand. I predict a spinach salad (or 5) in my future. I also got in all of my tomatos, eggplants, tomatillos, patty pan squash and bell peppers. Plus I sowed some arugula and Italian basil. I’m hoping to get some some cucumbers and green beans going tomorrow.

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And when Bella was down, dinner was done, and the house was quiet, I finally found some time to tuck into A Rich Spot of Earth, the history of Thomas Jefferson’s retirement garden at Monticello, as told by Monticello’s head gardener, Peter Hatch. I’m a fourth the way in and so far it is a fantastic history of a fascinating man’s garden (note to self, Jefferson deserves a Bio Better than Fiction post).

The book is made even better by great pairing of Hudson Manhattan Rye on the rocks.

Warming up with a cold frame

This weekend I built a cold frame over a third of my primary raise bed. I’m going to get a jump on my tomatoes even though Chicago highs will stay in the 40s or 50s for another 2 to 3 weeks.

It is pretty basic, a PVC frame, and some 6mil clear tarp held on with packing tape and spring clamps.

I wasn’t shooting for perfect; rather, barely good enough and quickly built was the goal. I have a remote thermometer set up to monitor it and today, on day one, while outdoor temperature was 56, inside the cold frame wad a balmy 78. I could stick my hand in and feel the difference immediately. The soil is already noticeably warmer than that which is just outside the plastic shed.

Great success!

Tomorrow I’ll be planting some seeds and hoping for the best. My only fear now is that a strong Windy City gust wipes out my little plant shelter.

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