I never knew I was interested in gardening until I moved in with my partner, Nick, 4 years ago and helped him tend to the 4 or 5 pots of herbs he had growing on his back porch. Gardening was always my mom’s thing and it was always what she did to get away from her kids since her plants didn’t complain or demand things of her. She practically lived in the yard from April-October during our teenage years and I don’t blame her!
I didn’t quite get it then, but I do now. If I have had a particularly bad day or if the library was particularly loud, you’ll most likely find me in the yard tending to my plants in the evening. There’s a meditative quality to gardening and watching things grow from tiny seeds into something that you can eat is incredibly rewarding. In the four years I have lived here, the garden has grown from 4 pots on the porch to about 10 pots on the porch, plus about 1/4 of the building’s backyard and I have gone from knowing nearly nothing about gardening to composting and practicing companion planting and crop rotation for higher yields. It’s amazing what you can learn from a few books and your mom!
This year I got off to a bit of a late start due to all the weird weather we’ve had in Chicago. However, despite doing all of my plantings in mid-June, things seem to be going well and it looks like it should be another good year for my little garden.
Here’s a look at what I have going on this year…
– Lillies flanked by Liatrix –
I planted Liatrix, Calla Lily and some other form of Lily bulbs last spring and the only one that grew and bloomed was the Liatrix. This year, I have full grown Lilies of some sort, as well as, Liatrix, but none of them have bloomed yet due to our wacky weather. It’s July! They should have bloomed long ago. I’m just hoping they bloom soon so I have some more color in my yard.
The bitter cold this winter killed off most of my strawberry plants, which I’ve had for three years. The one above seems to be bouncing back, but it’s doing so very slowly, so I bought a few new plants from Whole Foods last week when they were on sale to replace all of the strawberry plants that seemed to be gone for good.
Luckily, the rhubarb plant that has been in my family for 4 generations survived the winter despite living in a pot!
– Rhubarb –
My mint plants also survives the winter, which is both good and bad since they’re taking over my yard, yet continue to protect the plants from pests.
I have had success with peas, small tomatoes (cherry and roma), kale, scallions, radishes, cilantro, dill, and small to mid-sized peppers in the past, so I made sure to plants all of those again this year. I started the peas and tomatoes and the rest either came from my CSA, friends or my local gardening store.
– Snow Peas –
-Small Sweet Peppers –
– Green Bell Peppers –
– Dinosaur Kale –
– Tomatoes –
New additions to the yard include cucumbers, tomatillos, pole beans, celery, and my experimental sweet potatoes that look like aliens.
– Tomatillo –
– Sprouting Sweet Potato –
– Baby Sweet Potato Plants –
Thus far I haven’t had much in terms of yields, but that’s to be expected since all of my plants seem to think it’s still Spring. However, with a little bit of plant food and all the rain we’ve been getting I should start to see more produce coming through my door.
Here’s what I’ve harvested so far…
Plus bunches of cilantro and mint, which aren’t pictured!
Looking forward to shopping for some flowers this weekend to attract more bees!
This is my first year composting, so I’ll be writing a bit more about that in the future, as well as, what I feed my plants, where I get my seeds, what I plant together and why, and what my favorite gardening resources are.
I think it would be awesome if more people grew their own food. I’m no expert, but if you have any questions about my methods, ask away!