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The beginning of May was rather cold here in Chicago. I anxiously waited for it to warm up so I could get my potted garden started. I worried that I would be getting a late start but actually began the first installation of plants one day ahead of last year. May 16th 2010.
This year will be a different though. The potted garden will have an eventful summer as it will be moving locations with in a month of its inception. Luckily Joe and I were able to find a lovely new home with a fantastic yard! I’m so excited for it, the yard will have plenty of space for our pots as well as the opportunity to expand (in real ground) next year! More on the new spot later.
One of our absolute favorite garden shops in our neighborhood (or in the world) is Adams & Sons. There you can find a huge selection of vegetables, herbs, house plants, and pretty much anything else related that you would need for an extremely reasonable price – this place is awesome! The people are friendly and helpful, plus they usually have a super sweet shop cat walking the grounds – what a dream life! Anyway, this is where we scored a lot of our pots in the past as well as most of our sprouts for this year’s garden. Make time to head over there sometime if you’re planning a garden of your own.
We didn’t really need to invest in anymore pots this year but it’s always a good idea to freshen up your soil. This year we bought a basic potting soil and mixed it up with an organic mushroom compost which is supposed to be an optimal addition for growing vegetables. We bought a lot of the same vegetables & herbs as last year but also switched it up a bit and added some new things.
For peppers, we’re growing cayenne, habanero, Hungarian hot, jalapeño, red chili, and banana peppers. This year we planted cayenne, banana, and jalapeños in the large ceramic pot. Last year it was red chilies and jalapeños which surprisingly, when grown mixed up in the same pot, were very hard to tell apart at times. We’re hoping that we won’t have the same problem this year with choosing a variety with each a different shape and color. We’re expecting another great pepper harvest!
For greens, we’re trying out baby spinach and Swiss chard to start. We definitely want to do kale again but we’re having a hard time finding it so far this year. We checked 4 different garden shops and even went back only to find the kale had come in and sold out right away! Blast. We’ll just keep looking for now – we have held it’s place in one of our wooden crate planters, although the other greens are beginning to take over! It’s possible that we may even be able to plant some in the ground at the new space.
Herbs include orange thyme, french thyme, oregano, sage, cilantro, & munstead lavender. From another nursery, and planted a week after, we have dill, rosemary, & lady lavender. Having your own herb garden is so great because it makes it easy to spice up your dish with fresh flavor at any time. Plus, it saves you a lot of money because you only chop off what you need or you’ll just use what is ready to eat – a lot of times when we buy packaged fresh herbs we won’t be able to use them all in time or we get tired of the flavor by the time it’s all gone. I’m hoping to keep this part of the garden growing throughout the year.
Orange thyme, oregano, & French thyme. Thyme is delicious and it’s fun to grow different varieties at the same time so you can really taste how different they are. I’m looking forward to figuring out new ways to use them. Oregano is also delicious but it’s not an herb I’m really use to cooking with – I thought if we grew it ourselves it would be a great way to get acquainted with it.
Sage. Last year we grew sage as well and made this bread.
Lady lavender, rosemary, & dill. Rosemary is one that we will definitely get a lot of use out of, seems like one of the more hardy herbs that we grow. Dill on the other hand seems rather delicate, this is the first time I’ve tried to grow it.
Mint. This mint is from last year, it came back strong starting back in March! It basically claimed this entire pot and I don’t think it has any plans to give up any space. There were a few varieties in there last year but the peppermint ruled and took over. Luckily Joe and I make a mean mojito and we seem to require lots of mint in the summer months.
Cilantro, basil, & munstead lavender. Basil is an obvious choice, deliciously compliments so many dishes, I love it. I’m thinking we might have to expand our basil garden once we move so we can make pesto and more. Cilantro is another herb we use a lot of, we wanted to include it in our garden to see how it grows. I don’t expect to get too much out if it but any amount is fine – I just hope we can keep it alive through the summer. It seems to grow taller and taller but never wider. Luckily it’s the least expensive herb to buy so we won’t have trouble keeping up with our consumption.
Of course we couldn’t forget about strawberries! We’re hoping to actually eat the few berries we grow this year! We plan to bring it inside right before the fruit is ready to avoid donating the first bite to urban nature. This year we planted them in a strawberry pot gifted from Joe’s mom! Thanks! The plant seems very happy.
As a side note, Joe and I began our move over the weekend and gave the new yard some love and water, we found a covered up strawberry patch which had many hidden fruits – of course we ate what was ready, hopefully it will perk up and keep bearing, it looks promising. It was perhaps a little too exciting to discover – some sort of treasure. I just think strawberries are beautiful, that’s why I enjoy growing them so much.
So happy it’s garden time again! The next time you hear about this one it will be on it’s way to a new home.