Announcement: My garden blog URL has changed. Click here to visit my new Dig-It-Yourself garden blog!

Latesst Posts From My Garden Blog

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.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bake Sale Time!

This past weekend we held a bake sale for the community garden. I baked several different items, including pies, sugar cookies, totally awesome vegan chocolate chip cookies, rice krispy squares, brownies, and a couple cakes. I made a schedule for the whole week leading up to the bake sale that had me baking every night. By Friday night, I was completely sick of baked goods. Nevertheless, I pulled an all night bake-a-thon so that we could make as much money as possible at the bake sale on Saturday. When I was up making cookies at 3 AM, it started raining. It didn't stop raining until after 2 o'clock on Saturday, which meant we spent the entire 5 hours of the sale huddles in the rain under out totally ghetto tent we bought for 30 bucks at the grocery store. It was unseasonably cold, wet, and completely miserable. Sales were less than brisk, but we did manage to almost sell out and make $350 for the garden. A hot shower never felt so good as it did after spending half a day in the cold rain. Despite the miserable conditions, I think it can be called a success and I already sort of look forward to doing it again next year. Here are some pictures to document the mayhem:

Blueberry pies

My famous "totally awesome Earth Voice vegan chocolate chi cookies"

what my kitchen looked like at 4 a.m.

food cooling in the window... made me feel all old fassioned 'n stuff

flower cokies!

getting the table set up... note that it is already raining!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Its Earth Day!!!! (and other stuff)

Today is Earth Day! Its also a beautiful day here in Chicago. The temperature is in the mid-50's, the sun is out, the tulips in my front yard are just about to open, all in all good times here. The only crappy part of today is that I'm at work. There's not much going on here--not much for me to do--and so I'd much rather be outside reading in the park, walking the dog, or gardening. But, no dice. I'd like to say that I can save all this outdoor good stuff for the weekend, but unfortunately it looks like this weekend is going to be a killer. On Saturday, I'll be running a yard sale table at the Forest Park Community Yard Sale on behalf of the Community Garden. I keep having flashbacks to the rummage sale I organized for my college environmental student group, however I hope that this weekend's yard sale is much more successful than the rummage sale was (we didn't sell much, ended up with a bunch of junk that no one wanted apparently...

Anyway, while I have some time, I thought I'd update you on some things that have happened since the last time I posted.

1) I had my hair chopped off! I LOVE it!

2) I've decided that I'm going to apply to the PhD program in Urban Planning. The application is due in January and if I get in, I'd start in the fall of 2010. I'm applying to the same school I went to for grad school, so I have many contacts there as well as (hopefully) a decent reputation, so I"m feeling optimistic, however I can't forget that they only admit 8 people each year which is not a lot and implies that the admissions process is most likely quite rigorous.

3) Both my grandparents on my Dad's side passed away; first my grandmother back in March and then my grandfather just last week. I wasn't extremely close to them growing up, and recently they had both been declining in health so it wasn't much of a surprise. But of course its always sad and upsetting to see people go. I think its contributed to my somewhat sullen mood recently and has definitely left me feeling much more aware of my own mortality.

4) The Community Garden project is going very well. We have several fundraising events coming up, starting with the yard sale I talked about earlier. We are also growng seedlings that we will (attempt) to sell in May. There are also two lovely ladies who have a landscape design business who are working on a site plan for the garden. If all goes well, we should have a plan and a small amount of seed money (haha... unintended pun) that we can use to plant some stuff and get some raised beds built. The garden definitely wont be in full swing this year, but if all goes as planned we will certainly make some visible progress.

So, I think that's about it. Thanks for reading and sorry it has been so long since an update. :)

Monday, February 9, 2009

R.I.P. Bo Dog

Most of you probably know the news already, but I feel I should do a post about it anyway. We had to put Bodhi to sleep on Saturday. I'm not sure how much I mentioned it here in the blog, but he had been experiencing some health problems for the past several months. First, he went blind last summer, for seemingly no particular reason--not diabetes, not glaucoma, not cataracts, etc. Then he started having pee pee problems ie: he started peeing in the house more than he had ever done in the past. He was also drinking a LOT of water and his urine was very diluted. We'd taken him to the vet several times. Blood work was done, and although some odd protein readings were found, no definitive diagnosis was given. The vet's guess was that it was a problem with one of his abdominal organs, either organ failure or a tumor. We could have done an ultrasound to try to get more answers, but we had already decided that we didn't want to put a 10 1/2 year old blind dog through surgery and/or cancer treatment so we decided that the several-hundred-dollar ultrasound probably wasn't worth it since whatever it found would probably require surgery or chemo. We decided just to concentrate on keeping him comfortable and happy as long as we could. There was a brief unrelated incident over the holidays wherein Bo ate half a Costco sized bag of peanut M&M's. He definitely enjoyed himself, but he also got REALLY sick. We though he was going to die, but he pulled through. Then, about two weeks ago his abdomen began to bloat. It took a couple days to develop, so we knew it wasn't the stomach twisting disease often refereed to as "bloat" that can kill dogs in a matter of hours. By the end of the first week of his pot belly, we took him to the vet where they drained literally a liter of clear fluid out of his belly. They did an x-ray but couldn't find anything since his abdomen was so full. Again, we opted to just manage his quality of life and not do further exploratory treatment. The vet suggested we could feed him puppy food, since it is very high in protein. We went to Petsmart and bought a huge bag of puppy food. We also got some of the egg-whites-in-a-box thing from Costco and added that to his food. We were hoping that the bloat wouldn't progress as quickly as it had before. But, it did come back and probably actually came quicker than before. By Wednesday his belly was just as full as it had been when the Vet drained him. By Friday, he was huge, looked like an extremely pregnant dog having trouble walking and seemed unable to find a comfortable position to sit or lay down in. Friday night he started wining in a distinctive "I really don't feel well" sort of way. We could have taken him back to get the fluid drained again, but it was obvious that we'd have to do it every 5 days or so to keep him comfortable, which was a bit too much both from a financial standpoint and from a quality of life standpoint for him. Early in the morning on Saturday, woken by his whines, we decided that he wasn't going to get any better, and that maybe we should go ahead and put him down before it got a lot worse. So that's what we did. About 5A.M. on Saturday morning we took him to the emergency vet and put him down. It was very sad, obviously, but I think in his best interest.

So, no more Bo dog. :( We miss him a lot already. Its weird only having one dog around the house. Maggie (the remaining dog) is also having some adjustment issues since Bodhi was always the alpha dog. She always got her feed after he got his. She always followed him out the door. Now she seems a bit confused when she doesn't have anyone to follow. Despite this adjustment pains, she doesn't seem to be too depressed, so unless she becomes depressed, we're probably going to remain a one dog household for now. We'll see.

Nick got Bo dog 9 years ago when he lived in Rhode Island and was working in the dorms. Bo just appeared on campus one day. Nick had been looking for a dog and Bo fit his ideal dog profile quite nicely: short haired, medium sized, pretty calm. His name, Bodhi is short for Bodhisattva which means "enlightened one" due to his cool-as-a-cucumber wise-beyond-his-K9-abilities-andyears demeanor. Bo was an only dog until Maggie joined the family a couple years later. Bo was always the one in charge, though. He loved to watch out the window for squerrels or for anyone walking down the ally. He was sure to alert us if he saw anything. When the cats moved in, it took Bo dog a while to learn the difference cats and squerrels, which he did eventually. By last fall, the cats and dogs were cuddling together on a regular basis, although I'd like to thank Bo publicly for not biting the head of Keenan who would sometimes and for no obvious reason smack the Bo dog on his nose. Thanks for not eating the Keenan cat.

I met Bo four years ago when Nick and I started dating. Nick was always Bo's favorite person, although I think he liked me fairly well too... especially when I gave him treats or petted him. Bo dog LOVED getting affection from his people. He was a 55 pound lap dog. He was an exceptional dog and will we miss him... we already do miss him. Rest In Peace Bo.

Bo dog is survived by Maggie (who is trying to get used to not having her alpha dog around), Keenan (who will miss smacking Bo in the face, but in a loving way, he promises!), and Morgan (who will miss snuggling with Bo on the bed.)

Sorry to have to regale you with the details of this sad news, but thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Announcement: I Have Discovered The Secret To Life

Ok, well not really the secret to life, but I did have a bit of an epiphany today regarding how to conquer my latest daemon: the diet killing temptress most people call hunger. Some background info: Nick and I started dieting New Years day so its been over a month now. For the first two weeks I found the diet pretty managable,--not too miserable--and I was actually losing weight. I droped 8 pounds in two weeks with NO trouble at all. But then, things just stopped. The scale hasn't moved since, and the not-eating-everything-I'm-craving-the-moment-I'm-craving-it has been getting more difficult. They say there's no motivator like succes, right?

I'll skip the part of this post where I wax on about the particulars of my diet (actually there aren't that many, we're just counting calories; I only get 1,400 per day) or the fact that Nick apparently has no problem quieting his hunger reflex and so easily eats well under his calorie allowance (1,700) and has already lost over 15 pounds.

Instead I'll get to the point. So, on the train ride home today as the little voice inside my head (the little voice reminds me a lot of that little annoying green dude from the second Lord of the Rings) kept screaming "Cheerios, Cheerios, You Want Cherrios!!!!!" it hit me that this little hunger voice in my head is very much like a nagging child or (something I have more first hand experinece with) a dog that wont stop trying to wake you up at 3 in the morning to feed him or her. Then I thought about the realitve success I've had with harnessing my magical powers of rock solid stubborness (this is the part of the blog where everyone reading this who actually knows me will smile or perhaps even laugh in recognition of this distinct aspect of my personality) to totally ignore the dogs when they're trying to wake me up. Then I realized, that in order to ignore my hunger all I have to do is pretend its one of those other things I stubbornly ignore with great success all the time, like the dogs, or like people who try to get me to watch movies or TV shows that I've already convinced myself I wouldn't like (insert more laughter from friends here).

So there it is, folks. My big discovery. Ok so its not quite the secret to life but I'm hoping it will be the secret to succesful avoidance of caloric temptations. I'll let you iknow how it goes.

Thanks for reading. :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Blog "Way Back" Machine: Lake Front Biking

In case you haven't heard, we've had some really freaking cold days here in the windy city, definitely the coldest of this winter season and probably the top five coldest days I've experienced in the 4 years that I've lived here. Right now its 5 degrees outside and they're predicting wind chills as low as 30 BELOW zero tonight. We've got about a foot of snow on the ground, which used to seem like a lot but now seems like nothing. Thanks to my awesome knee length coat--its pretty much like wearing a sleeping bag around town--and the facemask I got from REI a couple years ago, getting to and from work hasn't been that miserable.

Nevertheless, I was looking through pictures from last year and I found this video I took while Nick and I were riding our tandem bike on the lakefront trail on Lake Michigan back in August. Tonight, I'd imagine that being on the lakefront would probably be the coldest place to be in the city, so its hard to believe that just 5 months ago it looked like this. Cabin fever hasn't set in yet this winter, but its still nice to look back and have a little reminder of how great summer in Chicago really is.