Garden Tales

Putting Beds To Rest

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It is said that Fall is the best time for amending the soil and getting the garden ready for an early planting next spring.  So we have been busy here in our garden “putting the beds to rest”.  My kids have had an important role in this affair, and you can see Elena here with the beds starting to fill with leaves as the fall crops diminish. Here is what we did to put our … [Read more...]

Green Tomato-ville

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This past weekend we decided it was time to pull out tomato plants and start putting our garden to rest.  It has been such a wonderful and warm fall, but we know the cold weather is right around the corner, and we may not feel like spending hours in the garden.  So we went out as a family team and pulled the tomato plants out of the ground, composting the leaves and stems and … [Read more...]

100% Green Halloween?

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If you feel like Halloween is a wonderful holiday --but you wonder about all the waste and excess-- here is an idea that came to us at the last minute this year:  a 100% “green” Halloween costume!  It is also a great way to get your kids thinking of all the wonderful reasons to have a home garden.  We had entered our dog, Black Jack, in the Spooky Pooch parade at the Chicago … [Read more...]

Self-Watering Containers Win!

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If you have been reading this blog since Labor Day, you know that I’m doing a fun experiment with a “cold frame” (basically a green-house like structure but with no heat source).  What I also decided to experiment with was planting things in regular ceramic pots vs. planting in self-watering containers.  Self-watering containers have a reservoir for water at the bottom of the … [Read more...]

Cold Frame is Heaven for Swiss Chard

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First, I must say that I feel like I’ve been cheating a bit with my cold frame experiment, since the weather in Chicago has been really (unseasonably) warm this October! But I am loving my cold frame anyway, as it has dipped close to 40 degrees for a few nights this month. My lettuces, beets, carrots, tat soi, arugula and chard are all doing great in our cold frame. What is … [Read more...]

Extend the Growing Season?

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With fall nearly upon us, the night temperatures have dipped to close to 50 degrees for a few nights.  This is the time when our family starts to mourn the end of our bountiful garden season, as many plants are just not very happy when the temperatures dip that low (think tomatoes, basil, squash, and many types of annual flowers).  We are still planning on enjoying the fall … [Read more...]

Hide-and-Seek with Beans

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Despite autumnal coolness and waning daylight, the over five-foot-high tower of pole beans is still going strong at my community garden plot. I planted green, wax and heirloom purple bean seeds in early June and was harvesting by mid-July. Having successfully fenced out the voles (meadow mice) from my plot this year (they killed my bean vines by late August last year), I should … [Read more...]

Blooms for Butterflies, Finches & Hummingbirds

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Early on summer mornings when I’m barely awake and brewing my tea, I look at our yard through the large window over the kitchen sink and see more than the deep purple morning glories twining up the gas lamp in the midst of a tangle of other blooms. I also see my wildlife friends that have decided our yard is one of their favorite breakfast spots. I’m delighted by a bright … [Read more...]

Patio Harvest

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It’s high harvest time in my vegetable garden and while my large heirloom tomatoes are still green and my pole beans are just blossoming, I’ve been harvesting grape and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, garlic scapes, shallots, carrots, beets, Swiss chard, Japanese eggplants, onions, lettuce, spinach, kale, zucchini and loads of fresh herbs. When I go to the farmer’s market, I find I’m … [Read more...]

A Welcome Guest

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This entry comes from nine-year old Elena.  She would like to share with you her experience attracting toads to our garden.  Every spring, she puts out flower pots (put on their side and half bury in the soil) for them to live in.  Toads love this source of shade.  She knows that toads “love mud” so she makes the ground muddy by watering it and creating pools where water can … [Read more...]