End of summer garden update

Summer officially ends in a few hours, which made me realize I haven’t really talked about my garden since June. I’m calling this my “practice year”–for having no clue what I was doing, my garden did pretty well in its first year. Next year I’ll remember to fertilize much more often, be a little more on top of the weeds, and not be afraid to thin things out. The folks at Peterson Garden Project also deserve a lot of thanks for answering a ton of questions and saving my tomatoes!

How did your garden do?

June garden in full swing
First real slicing tomato
Wall of peas
Purple tomatillos

Successes Continue reading

Putting down roots

As my kitchen (really my entire apartment) is currently in a state of utter disarray, has been for the past few weeks, and will be for another few, my cooking of late has pretty much consisted of salad (and often take-out salad at that). I’ll explain in a minute, but for now, an update on the garden, which is so far blowing my expectations away. Here are a few highlights:

StrawberryBaby lettuce Tomatillo flower

As for the reason for the kitchen chaos? I’m moving! Today I’m officially a first-time homeowner in Chicago.

Keys

I did say I wanted a change and I think this counts. I wasn’t planning to leave the ranks of the apartment-dwelling when I started looking for a new place in April, but everything seemed fated to make this happen. I’ve never been one to take the view that renting is throwing money away, it definitely has its perks and benefits, but I’m really excited about this step–and my new porch! Kitchen! My own laundry! I can’t wait to start cooking and sharing projects from my new space soon.

One of the best parts about the new place though? It’s closer to my garden! Here are some more pictures, including my plot layout and how the view has changed since mid-May: Continue reading

In the garden

I have a garden! If you follow me on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, you probably know this already, but I’m so, so excited that this will be my first year growing more than a little pot of lettuce and some flowers on my porch.

Plant markers

I learned about Chicago’s Peterson Garden Project and their pop-up victory gardens last year, but finally joined after urging from a friend who’s gardened with them in the past. For $75, I get a 4×8 plot with organic soil that’s all mine from April through October. Most people with a garden this size use the square foot gardening method (I’ll share more about that in another post), so I’m following suit for now. It’s definitely different than what I remember from my dad’s garden growing up and its orderly rows of beans and carrots and lettuce and corn.

So far I’ve planted seeds for:

I also bought baby plants of:

Other plants I still need to buy are:

  • Cucumbers (I hope I can find a baby cucumber to use for making cornichons!)
  • Strawberries
  • Herbs: Genovese basil, parsley, thyme, chives/garlic chives, oregano, mint (only in a pot)
  • Hot pepper

Baby plants

The history of victory gardens goes back to World War II and, reassuringly, I learned that people back then knew about as much as I do about having a vegetable garden than I do (which is pretty much nil, but luckily I have plenty of green thumb-ed friends and family as guides)! The Peterson Garden Project is a lot more recent, but is doing great work in a lot of areas I’m passionate about: eating locally, making good food accessible to under-served communities, helping people (like me!) learn to grow their own food, putting neglected urban spaces to good use, and building strong communities around Chicago. They’re doing much more than that, which I’ll talk about in another post, but for now I’ll direct you to their website if you want to learn more.

I’m positively giddy to see how this experiment goes and how different this view looks come July!

My garden!

(P.S. I don’t have any association with PGP other than thinking what they do is worth sharing.)

Figuring out fall–and printing photos

Fall always seems to catch me off guard. I feel it coming weeks ahead so I make pies, I eat apples, I can things in jars…and then it’s 40 degrees and my brain freezes and all I can think to cook are pork chops and potatoes and eggs–not all at the same time, mind you, but I’m in withdrawal from fresh greens and raw vegetables and dinners that take under 20 minutes to put together and eat while it’s still light outside. I’m struggling with my usual fall cooking inspiration, trying to figure out what my body wants other than to simply start hibernating. In the meantime, though, I found another really cool art project. Maybe I’ll actually hang some of the art I’ve made this summer soon!

IMG_0002 (23)

Clockwise from top: black and white image with an inkjet, color copy with an inkjet, color image on a laserjet

While I’m dealing with the change to fall, every store I walk into seems hellbent on insisting that Christmas is right around the corner. I will fight them until December 1, but if you’re the type to think that far ahead, this project would make a great Christmas gift–it’s easy to make very personal but it’s also inexpensive if you want to make several to give to friends and family.

Continue reading

More easy (and cheap) art

I think the idea of “making art” is intimidating to a lot of people—myself included, as I’ve said before. But I just couldn’t take looking at the big, bare wall in my living room any longer, and I am too cheap to spend the exorbitant amount that it would cost to buy a piece to fill the space. And so, necessity, invention, etc.IMG_0014 (12)

This project is even easier than the gelatin prints, and it’s infinitely customizable: any size, any style, to fit any space that just needs a little pick-me-up. Continue reading