Like much of the country, Chicago's summer has sputtered through a cool June and into a cool July. That hasn't stopped my garden! Check out these photos.
Two weeks before the final frost date—May 15 in Chicago—and we've got a few things already in the ground. Take a look at these photos from the weekend.
Cherry Oh Baby
Just checked on the cherry tomatoes in the flower box yesterday. The three healthy plants—one suffered a broken vine a few weeks ago, but it has a flower or two on it and I just haven't brought myself to chop it down—just went absolutely berserk.
Nobody tells you how pretty string bean flowers are. They are reminiscient of orchids on a miniature scale. Read more from this garden report.
More in the Ground
It's go time! Check out these 13 photos from our big day of planting.
Raised Bed Project
It was so beautiful in Chicago over the weekend, that my wife and I started—and nearly finished—our first garden project of the spring, raising the garden beds. Some raised beds are helpful for creating gardening space in places without ground-level soil, such as on top of a deck, gravel path or concrete slab. We don't have that problem.
The First Garden
We've got breaking (ground) news out of Washington, D.C., today: Michelle Obama and students from a nearby school started work on the first family's new vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House.
The Dirt Visits the Chicago Flower and Garden Show
Last week, Mrs. The Dirt and I visited the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, which took place about a mile off the coast of Chicago at Navy Pier. Take a look at the gallery of photos I took at the exhibition!
What Is Organic?
Interesting article from The New York Times this week about how organic peanuts products got caught up in the recent product recall due to salmonella. This was used as a segue into a discussion of what, exactly, "organic" means.
If I lived in California, I know exactly what kinds of fruit would be growing in my backyard—avocados, limes or a Mission fig tree. Oh man, what I wouldn't do to have a fig tree.
Snap back to reality in Chicago. No way, my friend.
With Chicago's truncated days of sun and heat, every little boost will help. And like waiting for the bus or in some municipal line, that lag between planting and when anything pops up can feel like forever.
Too Much Chard
Once the sun really started heating up, though, the Swiss chard turned into a jungle. By the end of July, the leaves were big and sturdy enough that I could use them to fan our cats—in an approximation of the treatment they would have received if they were one of those snooty, deified cats owned by ancient Egyptian pharaohs.
I have a confession to make. When autumn turned to winter, I completely abandoned my garden. I didn't plant any ground cover. I didn't break down the bean stalk tripod. I didn't bring my terra-cotta or wooden pots inside. I didn't even have the common decency to give the remains of the plants their proper disposal.
The results were definitely mixed. The radishes were tiny but delicious. The basil was wonderful until the leaves started getting small and tough. I learned the hard way that cilantro is a fickle, easily killed herb—but the marinade I made with it may have been worth the homicide.
A Garden Begins
It's been the harshest, snowiest winter in two decades in Chicago. And despite a brief breakout of sun and over-freezing temperatures, it's bound to turn shockingly cold once again. Which is exactly why it's the perfect time to think about this year's garden.