Friday, May 15, 2009

Time for tough love in the garden

It’s that time of year – tender seedlings need to be moved from their safe, warm home in the greenhouse in preparation for facing life in the great outdoors.

During the first week of May, about 60 of the most robust tomato, jalapeño, artichoke and herb seedlings were transferred from the greenhouse to various living rooms to begin the “hardening off” process. This involved putting them outside for a few hours each day in the windy and unpredictable Chicago weather to toughen them up a bit. The seedlings will spend about a week-and-a-half at various way-stations in preparation for being planted outside on the weekend of May 16th and 17th.

Meanwhile, at the garden on May 9, a handful of hardy volunteers braved the increasingly cold and windy weather to weed, plant more potatoes (Desirée variety this time) and plant additional golden beets (not very many had germinated and some of us were looking forward to seeing them, so we’re trying again). Somehow, the spinach bed had become covered in a multitude of tiny weeds, so several dedicated volunteers took on that tedious weeding task. On the other hand, weeding the dodecagonal bed was a bit like playing Twister, as volunteers struggled to balance on a few paving stones and avoid being strangled by the bean trellis. (Sorry there aren’t any pictures of that, but our fingers were cold!)

It is amazing how many of the herbs have already come back: several clumps of chives are doing well and about to flower; the sage looks healthy and happy; the thyme is starting to make an appearance; and the oregano is taking over one end of the herb bed. In a different bed, the mint is already tall, and the Monarda fistula (bergamot) is coming along.

In the front garden, the viburnum is blooming and scenting the air, and the alliums are just about to open.

Next weekend will be spent planting all those seedlings and hoping we don’t get a late frost like we did last year (which killed off most of the original tomato plants). Keep your fingers crossed!

...but the wait goes on for woodchips to be delivered by the city....

Thanks to Evelyn Y. for this week's photo.