Updates, Week Ending June 17, 2017 – An Unexpected Harvest

This week actually ended up having mostly sunshine.  On Friday, there was a violent thunderstorm in the evening that flooded the streets pretty heavily (it even knocked down a few branches from trees.)  Saturday was overcast (with the threat of rain and a late afternoon rain for about an hour.)  When I arrived to the garden on Sunday, I was greeted by an absolute abundance of growth and had to do a harvest of the 1st planting of radishes and the first planting of garden greens (cut and come again.)  In the other beds, you could see the abundant growth everywhere, including the weeds.

I did find that the other beds around me that had been desperate for water the past couple weeks grow tremendously.  With the forecast for the upcoming week, I don’t think anyone will need to do much watering.  I put down a third planting planning on the rain forecast for this week to help out.

On the deck, the morning glories began growing their vines and I more or less put up the trellis on the south wall for those suckers.  We’ll see how much vegetation sprouts from them and how full they get.

Overall, a successful week.

Be well, everyone.


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Weather Forecast

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The Garden Plot


The Deck Plot

Weekly Happenings, May 14-20, 2017.

Here’s the weekly update (from last week up to Saturday the 20th.)

Enjoy and be well.


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This week we had temperatures in the 70s (Fahrenheit) and plenty of direct sun (until the drop into the 40s on Friday.)  The second round of weed torching happened, I built up the bed with “soil,” and added a top layer of potting soil and compost for the seed planting to begin.

In the deck garden, I made a cut of garden greens to test “cut and come again.” ​

 The wall of cilantro continues to take expand

 The morning glories continue to build out their root bases and sprout more​ leaves

Carrots are showing some signs of life


The chive flowers have fully bloomed.  (My wife just told me that they are very edible.  Who knew?  Not me, appearantly.)


The turnips and beets are doing better, but even with the weather we’ve had, there should have been much more than this.  I’m concluding that it’s just too damn windy up here, and only the hardiest crops seem to like it, at least in this early cool season.

We’ll see how the summer goes, but for now, the grow tower is kale on top, cilantro all around.

Bonus:

The rest of the garden lot had some great square-foot plots.  The radishes planted two weeks ago in the nearby plots are doing fantastic (compare that to my deck radishes.)

Here is a cameo of Jim following hunting the robins that feed on the worms that the rich soil attracts.


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Weekly Happenings, May 13, 2017

This was a quiet week.  At the community garden plot it was quiet.  The only task were to tend was torching the first sprouts and then watering and covering the the bed again for round two, since the weather calls for mainly sunshine and temperatures in the 60/70’s (Fahrenheit.)  I’m thinking that Tuesday/Wednesday I’ll torch the sprouts again, lay down the soil amendments to build up the box, water, soak, and come Saturday, torch if necessary, then lay down the compost, mark off the square-foot areas with string, then plant seeds.

On the deck garden, I transplanted the morning glory sprouts that were seeded last weekend into two large box planters which will become their permanent home, right or wrong.

Those are the only real updates.  Images and videos below.

Be well, everyone.


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​Right or wrong, the guerrilla gardener in me figured that with the wild state of vegetation along the fence line, that having a few plants that yield something of value other than generating lots of sweat would be a good thing to share.

When I uncovered the tarp on Saturday after a week of accelerated weed sprouting, I uncovered a lot of critters.  A LOT.  There were mainly a heap of centipedes, though as you can see below, there were a couple of wide-bodied anthropods, and like the centipedes, they had a taste for a soft, juicy earthworm (or what was left of it, which, surprisingly, was still alive and squirming.)


Video update summary, plus an example of torching weeds.

 

When you’re watching this video, keep in mind that if I didn’t torch these weeds, I would likely have had to pull them.  Judging by the number of sprouts, I would have been a busy and unhappy camper.

 

News and Happenings – Garden Plot Update, May 6, 2017

This past Saturday, I got my plot assignment at the Peterson Garden Project’s Land on Lincoln garden.  It was lot #103, which is along the western fence line and was as wild of a plot as you can get- lots of milky thorn thistle weeds (deep taproots,) dandelions, a mix of other wild weeds and plenty of critters to boot.  The lot has varied quantities of sunlight, with the east side getting more than the west side, which runs smack dab against a covered fence shared with the vintage car pen.  At the minimum, the bed will get a minimum of 7 hours of direct sun, from sunrise until 2 pm.  At the most, the east side will get about 8 hours.  Not bad.

With that back fence, I’m thinking that I can plant peas or beans right now, and by harvest, tomatoes will just be coming up.


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The process of prepping the bed did involve me violating every known rule about minimal soil disturbance (to maintain soil and microbe ecology,) but I had no choice with some of the weed tap roots going up to eight inches deep.  I cleaned up the weeds surrounding the bed, and I’m hoping the garden gets some bark chips to put down.  If not, I might just spring for some of my own if the funds allow.

On Sunday, I did manage to make it out to soak and cover the plot with a tarp to sprout any weeds near the surface.  Although there is rain and overcast skies forecast for the first half of this week, I’m hoping there will be enough sun and warmth to sprout whatever can sprout, so that come the weekend, I can pull out the torch and take care of business.

I liked the overall garden as well.  People seem generally friendly, the drive is only 15 minutes, and there’s a lot of sunlight, but most of all, I get to get lost in a mini-farm adventure.

The journey continues…

 

 

(PS- the sun wasn’t directly above me.  I had forgotten that the bed is parallel to Lincoln Avenue, which at this point north runs in a roughly northwest/southeast direction.)


An Early Season Tour of the Deck Garden

I did a quick video giving a quick tour of my deck garden.  It’s not as productive as I like, but it’s a 10-second commute to get there from my living room, plus it has a great view, so I’m keeping it.

I’ll probably go into more text detail at some point- just not today.   =)

Enjoy.


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2017 Harvest Update- Things Are Starting To Pick Up in the Garden

After I attended the online garden planning course hosted by Peterson Garden Project, I realized that it was about time to start seedlings for the spring harvest.  I honestly don’t know if I’m starting too early or not; however, I’m operating on the mantra of, “Do it, then figure it out along the way.”  At worst, they fail.  At best, the timing for transplanting will be perfect.  Either way, I’m going to learn something and get experience, which is what this whole process is about.


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Here is how I went about getting everything done:

First I put my jiffy pellets in a pyrex dish.  Then I warmed up the water used to expand the jiffy pellets (I held off on boiling the water on the chance that it would kill off any beneficial nutrients in the peat mix.)

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Once I poured the water over the pellets and into the dish, I waited for the pellets to fully expand, then transferred them to the grow trays.

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On the advice of an experience nursery gardener, I opted to use 10-pellet trays since they would provide a greater deal of flexibility with germination:

  • I don’t have to plant 24, 36, or 48 of one thing at a time
  • Being that each tray has the same plant, they will germinate at the same time and the same rate, which makes timing with germination and transplanting easier (ie, I won’t have a half-empty tray filled with slower-germination plants.)
  • They take up less space and have more flexibility for configuring on warming mats and underneath grow lights

Once I had the pellets loaded into the trays, I used a pencil to push down the center of the pellet to the prescribed planting depth (between 1/4″ and 1/2″ for beets, carrots, cilantro and radishes I planted.)  I then put two seeds in each pellet (to increase the odds of germination occurring in each pellet, with the exception of the carrots, which themselves came in a pellet form.  Even with an 85% germination rate, I figured I’d take a chance on one-per.)

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After placing the seeds in each pellet, I gently used my fingers to pinch and push down the peat at the top of the pellet.  Then I placed the the trays in the window, utilizing my grandmother’s old sewing machine table (sorry and thank you!)

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Now that the seeds have been planted, the next step is to log the information on to a spreadsheet to track the progress, and germination success and growth rate of each plant.

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plant chart


I also started the next batch of ginger for sprouting.  I had a plastic tray with slots big enough to fit each ginger cutting.  I’ve found that they sprout faster when using a heating mat.

These will probably sprout shoots in 10-14 days.  Once leaves come out, I’ll transplant them to the larger planter where they will grow for the next 8 months to maturity.


For the next step, I’ll plant the seedlings for the modular planters on the deck.  For that, I’ll have to buy some more 10-pellet trays.  I’m not sure if I’ll place those under the grow lights since the outdoor temperatures are getting warm enough to place outside.  If I had an outdoor greenhouse, I would place them in there.  (That said, it might be worth investing in a small store-bought one.

 

From John Rappoport’s Blog: “A Miracle in Chicago”

This was a good piece that painted a good, basic picture of the scope of community gardening and urban farming activity within the City of Chicago (where I reside.)

In the midst of all the bad things that occur here, this represents just one aspect that we as a collective of communities can build on.

[FWIW, this list is pretty impressive, plus it has links to website of many of the operations.  It’s definitely worth a gander.  And yes, for those that matter, the header image is not Chicago.  I know. =) ]


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It turns out that gang killings and drugs are not the only markers of life and death in Chicago. Far from it.

If you consult the Chicago Urban Agriculture Directory, you find a staggering list of city farms and gardens where clean nutritious food is grown:

Urban Farms and Gardens in Chicago and Nearby
• 62nd & Dorchester Community Garden
• Academy for Global Citizenship School Garden
• African Heritage Garden
• Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm
• Angelic Organics Learning Center Urban Initiative (Eat to Live Englewood Learning Garden, Urban Incubator Farm, etc)
• Bay Bay’s Peace Garden (Loud Grade Produce Squad)
• The Bayless Production Garden (Shores Garden Consulting)
• Benton House Backyard Botany
• Big Delicious Planet Kitchen Garden
• Bronzeville Community Garden
• Chicago Honey Co-Op
• Chicago Lights Urban Farm
• Chicago Patchwork Farms
• City Farm
• DePaul Urban Garden
• Dunne Technology Academy Mini Farm
• East Garfield Block Club Garden
• Eden Place Nature Center
• The Edible Gardens (Lincoln Park Zoo)
• El Paseo Community Garden
• Farmed Here
• Frankie Machine Community Garden (Wicker Park)
• Gardeneers School Gardens
• Gingko Organic Gardens
• Global Garden Refugee Training Farm
• GreenTown Waukegan
• Growing Power Chicago Farms
• Growing Home Farms
• KAM Isaiah Israel’s Farm and Gardens
• Kilbourn Park Organic Greenhouse and Community Garden
• Loyola University
• Metropolitan Farms
• The Millenium Neighborhood Garden
• Moah’s Ark
• The Mycelia Project
• Natalie G. Heineman Smart Love Preschool Garden
• Peterson Garden Project
• The Plant
• Pleasant Farms
• preSERVE garden
• Purple Leaf Farms
• Rainbow Beach Victory Garden
• Roots & Rays
• Roseland Community Peace Garden
• Rosemarie Rochetta Wessies Rooftoop Garden (Loyola)
• The Ruby Garden
• South Chicago Art Center’s Artists’ Garden
• The Talking Farm
• Third Unitarian Church Community Garden
• Timuel D. Black Edible Arts Garden
• Uncommon Ground Organic Roof Top Farm
• Urban Canopy
• Weiss Rooftop Farm (Loud Grade Produce Squad)
• Windy City Harvest (Chicago Botanic Garden)
• Xochiquetzal Peace Garden

And this is only a partial list. The Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project has a much larger count, which includes private/residential gardens. Their total, which is constantly updated? 888.

 

….

But to repeat, in Chicago (and other cities), people have taken matters into their own hands. They’ve launched farms and gardens, and they’ve endured and grown.

It’s absurd to consider how, with an infinitesimal fraction of the funds poured out in the War on Poverty, every city in America could, by now, be flourishing in so many ways—through urban farms. Greater vitality, greater health, greater participation, greater profits, a greater citizen-stake in safe neighborhoods…

 

A miracle in Chicagohttp://wp.me/pFTDT-4yK

Progress Report – Custom-Made Planters and a Logo

The construction progress on the planters is going a little slower than expected.  Seems all the other events of life is requiring attention.

Same goes for the logo.  I had an exact image of what I wanted, but the Fiverr designer could not deliver (partially due to software limitations.)  I decided to cut my losses (and retain my sanity) and accept the design as best he could manage.

I’ve since reached out to a closer network of people in my soccer supporter community for help cleaning up the design.  As for the planter, with the time it’s taking, I figure I’m going to settle with a version that’s less than what I envisioned, but should function just as well.

Construction Project – Modular Box Planters (update #3)

After my start-and-stop experience of attempting to cut the wood for the planters in an off-the-cuff manner, I realized that I would have to do some planning before I began cutting.  The good thing is that increments of 8, 12 and 16 fit well on a 48″x96″ plywood sheet.

As you can see in the picture below, I’ve mapped out my cuts based on size and overall number of pieces needed.  I feel like I’ll be taking a leap of faith, hoping everything goes to plan.  I guess we’ll find out soon enough.  (Hey, I never claimed to be a good carpenter. =)  )