Stunted Seedlings

Are your seedling stunted? The seed starting mix may be the culprit, as many seed starting mixes do not contain added nutrients that are essential to plant growth. Why? Have you ever started seeds in a plastic bag with a ball of moist cotton? They sprout! Seeds contain all of the nutrients...

Changing the Value E...

I first heard the phrase “changing the value equation” at the Family Farmed Expo, a local food and sustainable agriculture event. At the time, it was new to me—I’m apparently the last person in America to hear this phrase, as it pops up on Google in all sorts of contexts...

We Threw Out The Bab...

If you went to grade school in the ’60’s, you remember that the boys took shop and the girls took home ec. Girls wore skirts to school, and boys had to have their shirts tucked in. Everybody learned ballroom dance and girls always wore white gloves when they dressed up. Shop meant...

Mid-Summer Transplan...

Although we experience some of summer’s highest temperatures in August, it’s time to transplant fall crops to the garden. These cool-weather plants may have a little difficulty adjusting to summer heat, but can transition to the garden successfully if hardened-off first....

Blossom Buddies

Many of the plants we eat from the garden produce flowers, but when is a flower good to keep and when is it best to snip?  Peppers and Tomatoes After pollination, the flower dies back and a tiny pepper or tomato begins  to form. Peppers and tomatoes are usually self-pollinating, not requiring...

We Make Our Own

Everybody loves Cheetos. And no harm to it. Sometimes it’s just what you need. But kids need to know that apples are delicious too, and even that you can actually make things like Cheetos yourself. In fact, one of our most popular programs for kids shows them how to make their own soda and...

About Peppers

This week’s lesson: Peppers! These vibrant veggies are related to tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, and tomatillo, and come in a multitude of varieties, but there are two basic types: sweet, and hot. Sweet peppers come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Most start out green and then turn...

About Eggplant

Eggplant is a heat-loving crop native to India, and comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Some 18th-century European varieties were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen’s eggs, hence the name “eggplant”. Eggplant is widely used in cooking, most notably as an important...

How to Use Soap to K...

Soap sprays are considered contact pesticides, meaning they must come into contact with the pest you are trying to remove for them to work. They do not work as a deterrent or preventative for garden pests, and they do not work on all pests. Soap sprays work best on soft-bodied insects such as...

Harvesting Green Tom...

Green tomatoes for frying aren’t often sold at markets in Chicagoland, and are one of the unique treats one can enjoy from the garden. While all tomatoes are green while unripe, there is a right time to pick a green tomato for frying, and this is not often explained in fried green...

The Three Sisters

Corn is possibly the most domesticated organism on the planet (aside from us!). Archeologists have identified domesticated corn as old as the oldest identified human settlement in the Americas, but only recently identified its wild parent, teosinte, through genetic testing. On first planting...

Cooking From the Gar...

It’s about to start: more produce than you know what to do with. Cooking from the garden, sometimes called grocery gardening, is its own skill. The best place to start is at the garden. Go on the way home from work and ask yourself—how many people am I feeding, what is in my larder at home...

What is an Expert Ga...

At Peterson Garden Project, our mantra is “learn it by doing it.” Sometimes, in fact, we like our mistakes best. If only because it’s good for a blog post. Another good way to approach a garden is to remember that the plants know what to do. The gardener is kinda just along for the ride. Keep...

Cooking With My Daug...

By Alexandra Samios Nelson Every family has its myths and stories; they constitute the family’s collective memory. It’s important to families to have stories that connect you to the ancestors and to each other. Immigrant families treat storytelling in different ways– either mythical “old...

Squash Vine Borers

Did your squash plants suddenly wilt? Chances are, squash vine borers are to blame. These larvae burrow in the stems, cutting off the water supply to the plant. If you can find them while they’re still small, you can often remove them and the plant will heal, continuing with production...

What Else Goes On In...

It’s not just tomatoes and bees anymore. Been to the movies lately? Because sometimes community gardens, like PGP’s Hello!Howard Garden, show them on their sites. Free. How about lunch. Do you like lunch? Come to a PGP Garden Social and it’s entirely possible you’ll get fed by Chipotle...

Summer Fungi Aren...

Summer is in full swing and so are some of the fungal diseases that affect our plants. The first signs – yellowing leaves, brown streaks, and white fuzzy patches – are easy to ignore at first, but left alone, they will spread throughout the plant and the rest of your garden fairly...

Harvesting Scallions...

Scallions Depending on the species, scallions may be simply young onions harvested before the bulb begins to form or they may be bunching onions, which are closely related to onions, but do not go on to form a bulb when mature. Although when to harvest depends on the farmer’s or...

Squash those bugs!

Squash bugs are here, and if you haven’t seen the damage the adult’s toxic saliva can do to your squash and zucchini plants yet, you may have noticed their brown jewel-like eggs under the leaves. The best thing to do now to prevent widespread damage is to search for and destroy...

What We’re Pla...

Summer is here in Chicagoland and, if you planted earlier this spring, most of your cool-weather crops have matured and been harvested, leaving open spaces in your plot. Others may be just about ready to pick. Or maybe you are starting your garden for the first time this season and are unsure...

Time for mid-season ...

For many fruits and vegetables, the beginning of summer is the beginning of vigorous growth and production – which takes quite a lot of nutrients to sustain. To give your plants what they need to produce those gorgeous tomatoes, zucchini and kale, they will likely need a boost. You have a few...

Get Your Chard On!

With this June being one of the rainiest months on record in Chicagoland, lettuces, greens and leafy herbs have exploded in the garden. If you’re looking at your beautiful chard going from salad-size to enormous within  several days, here’s how to adjust your harvest technique....

Focus on the Positiv...

There are many joys in community gardening. I’ve run out of fingers, toes, the fingers and toes of my family, and of my friends, to count the amazing people I’ve met since I started gardening in a community, instead of just in my own backyard. Sometimes it’s fun to just walk around, looking...