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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Next Big Adventure!

Hello my blog! Its been a while, eh? In the past, this blog has been the place where I've babbled on and on about various projects, be it the community garden, the house buying, or the landscaping, blogging seems to become more do-able to me when I have something exciting to tell you about. So today I'm here to tell you about my next big adventure!

Many of you already know about this, so I guess maybe I'm writing this down for more of journaling purposes rather than conveying info to you, my "readers" (aka: friends who I talk to in RL about all this stuff anyway). So, forgive me if you've heard all this before... but here goes.

OMG Guess What???? A big time fancy pants restaurant in downtown Chicago wants me to be their gardener! How did this come about, you ask? Well, back in November, I was attending a get-together of people in Chicago who are interested in urban agriculture (aka: growing food in the city) and it was at that meeting that I found out that the restaurant was looking for someone to run a garden for them. I immediately went home and started doing my research. I googled to find out what cuisine the restaurant serves and what types of produce items they have on their menu. The next day I went down the restaurant with a basket full of fresh produce, which was to serve as my resume. Despite all odds (despite my lack of years of experience or references), they seemed quite impressed with me and my basket of veg, and the project has taken off. Here's a pic of the "resume" I took with me that day.

So far, I've designed a garden space which will be built on top of a portion of their parking lot. The plan consists of several raised beds build from cedar boards and filled with organic soil and compost. I did a budget for materials, and, with the Chef's help, I decided what we'd grow in the garden and ordered seeds. Just this week I've finished (almost) a detailed planting and harvest schedule. We'll be building about eight 4x12 foot raised beds which I've divided into three rows each where I'll grow things like lettuce, scallions, carrots, chard, kale, mustard, purslane, shiso, broccoli raab, and a bunch more I'm forgetting. There will also be another four 2x12 beds built against the wall which will hold trellised plants such as yard long beans, Japanese cucumbers, and climbing summer squash. Finally, there are another four 2x12 beds devoted entirely to cherry tomatoes and various types of basil and edible flowers. All in all I've got about 50 individual rows of crops to schedule and keep track of. Thank GOD for Excel! I'm hoping to have harvest from the last week of April all the way through the first few weeks of November. That's the plan!

Despite the fact that nothing has been done to actually build the garden yet--that should get started in the next few weeks--I've already put in countless hours on this project and have been stressing out about it more than I've ever stressed about anything ever before! This reminds me of when I was stressing about getting the community garden started last year, except worse! What I've learned though is, if I can get through this stressful time, I'll come out of it feeling stronger and more capable. Here's hoping that next year, after having a full successful year of the restaurant garden under my belt, I'll feel like I can do this garden thing with my hands tied behind my back... no stress, no problem! Maybe in the future this gardening-for-restaurants thing will become a business, maybe sooner than I think actually.

So, that's the big news! As the project progresses I hope to make more regular blog entries. For now, here's a list of all the veggies, herbs, and flowers I plan to grow in the restaurant garden:

Wild Arugula
Purple Basil
Thai Basil
Yard Long Chinese Noodle Pole Beans
Borage (herb and edible flowers)
Broccoli Raab
Snow White Carrots
Suyo Long Japanese Cucumber
Chard, assorted colors
Apple Green Eggplant
Red Ursa Kale
Lolla Rosa Lettuce
Marvel Butterhead Lettuce
Lettuce Mesclun mix
Baby Greens Mesclun mix
Mache Corn Salad (specialty salad green)
Tangerine Gem Marigolds (for edible flowers)
Mint (not sure what type yet)
Red Wave Mustard Greens
Mahogany Nasturtium (for edible flowers)
Blue Podded Peas
Purslane (specialty salad green)
French Breakfast Radishes
Red Meat Asian Radishes
Red Scallions
Tyee Spinach
Shiso (Asian herb)
Back Cherry Tomatoes
Yellow Pear Cherry Tomatoes
Orange Thyme
Trobetta Summer Squash

Monday, February 22, 2010


Hello blog. Since we last spoke (which was several months ago) I've reached one of those life milestones that people talk about. The "big 3 - 0." While I don't think its completely wigged me out, I can say that it hasn't totally gone by unnoticed either. I swear the day after my birthday I woke up and looked in the mirror and seemed to look older somehow... and not necesarily in a good way. I'm not totally having a turning-thirty crisis over here, don't get me wrong. But, it has been just a little weird.

People keep saying to me "so I guess you're an official adult now" which I find interesting. I kinda thought I was already an adult. I own a house; I'm married; I have one of those career-ish type office jobs. But apparently turning 30 makes it more official or something? I dunno.

So far I've gotta say that I'm pretty happy about where I am in my life at the moment. I don't feel like there's a bunch of stuff I haven't done yet that I've wanted to do. Other than then pretty much constant scheming that goes on in my head about my next big idea, big project, or big plan (ie: lets sell the house and move to a farm; lets start a gardening business; lets move to Canada or France or some place with better healthcare and less stupid politicians), I'm pretty content.

So, hello 30's. Good to see y'a I suppose. (But tell your friend "40's" that she can take her sweet time getting here... i'm not quite ready for the big 4 - 0 yet.