Planting maps for selected beds.
Bed 8 contains seedlings from a number of varieties for which we could not determine the varieties when we saved seeds last year. Hint for new gardeners: do not depend on plastic labels left exposed to the elements as a way to keep track of what you plant—especially after the plants have grown unruly in late summer.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
When I lived in a small town in northern Benin as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I remember the period of a month or so in late spring, between the time when the last of the stored harvest of the prior year ran out and when the new harvests from the current year started to appear in the markets. It was a lean time of expensive canned food or buggy flour. Fortunately for us, we don’t have to subsist solely on the produce of our garden.
The last task in the garden was to remove a large branch from one of our plum trees. Our original motivation in pruning was to improve the health of the tree; however, we discovered that the removal of the branch allowed for more sunlight to reach some of the mounds in this year’s squash bed (20).
Saturday, June 18, 2011
I started to lay out seed pots in the empty beds. As I have been doing with tomato starts, I arranged the pots of pepper and kale plants in a triangular grid pattern in the beds. Matrice and Ian next transplanted the starts to the beds and watered them in.
Periodic Table of Scoville Units.
We soon filled empty beds of stillborn spinach and mustard with kale and peppers. We wound up with a few stray pots of each. We also still had the tomatoes and basil to plant. I had a new anxiety: where to put the rest of our seedlings. Our packing problem was complicated by the need to respect the growing habits of the current occupants of beds. It would not, for example, make sense to plant kale starts in the dodecahedron bed, where they would be overtaken by the butternut squash.
We planted the remainder of the kale plants next to our bunching onions. The Fatalis went between rows of radishes and turnips in this year’s beet bed (14). We planted a tomato start in each space in the dodecahedron bed where a planting of Bloomsdale spinach had failed to germinate. We stuck a few tomatoes in large pots that we arranged at the feet of raised beds.
When we had finished, almost every bed in the garden had been planted. We kept a small section of bed 14 open for sweet potato slips that Dave Short is growing in his kitchen.
After all of the seedlings were in, we started to put up fences. Thinking that we were out of fencing, John and I went to the nearby Ace Hardware and purchased what turned out to be two surprisingly expensive lengths of chicken wire. It didn’t help that I later found two rolls of wire hidden in the ferns behind the shed.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
|tending the potato row|
We found mysterious gifts in the shade of the plum trees. In addition to flats of pepper and basil starts whose orange “Ginko OG” labels revealed their origin in the seedlings that we started at the Kilbourn Organic Greenhouse, there was a flat filled with sturdy starts of varieties of tomatoes that were new to us. We later learned that these seedlings, almost all of heirloom varieties, were donations from Slow Food Chicago. Thanks in advance to Slow Food Chicago for the purple, blond, and peach tomatoes that we should start harvesting in a couple of months.
We cut our day short because of the heat. A group of us then traveled to the Back of the Yards neighborhood to visit The Plant—an aquaponic/vertical garden/industrial repurposing/green incubator/wicked cool idea of tremendous scale. The Plant’s Director, John Edel, gave us a special tour, walking us around the property and conjuring visions of offices, kitchens, breweries, fisheries, and gardens from the piles of twisted industrial rubble and asphalted parking lots that currently exist at the former Peer Foods Building.