Know Your Zone!

Why are plant hardiness zones so important for gardening? Plant hardiness zones are based on lowest annual temperatures for a region, and help gardeners determine which perennial plants are likely to survive the winter. If you’ve noticed your hardiness zone recently changed, that’s because...

De-Mystifying Seed C...

For some enthusiastic gardeners, the seed catalog is a giant wish list, with nearly every seed variety circled, regardless of the size of the vegetable garden they’ll be planted in! But for others, the array of tomato varieties, mysterious codes and symbols next to plant names, and figuring...

Grow2Give

At this time of year, we often think of what we are thankful for, and give to others in need. With many food pantries and soup kitchens relying on donations or cheaply purchased leftover or unwanted food, fresh fruits and vegetables are a rare sight among staples like canned beans, rice and...

Community Gardens Ta...

“Gardeners are the most generous people in the world,” says Peterson Garden Project founder LaManda Joy. And this is what we learned, or confirmed, at the recent event, Community Gardens Take Action Against Hunger. Peterson Garden Project shared our own best practices with a roomful of people...

Autumn Aphid Invasio...

While many different kinds of aphids can appear on different types of plants during most times of the year, cabbage aphids tend to appear on plants in the Brassica family (kale, broccoli, collard greens, cabbage, and brussels sprouts) in early fall.  At this time, temperatures start to drop...

Putting the Garden t...

With about 4-5 weeks left in the Chicagoland growing season, October is the month where you’ll want to monitor the weather fairly closely, as we approach the first frost. The first frost is usually a “light frost”, where nighttime temperatures are between 32F and 28F. At...

Coffee in the Garden...

It’s one of our bribes. On Community Work Days, our volunteers are greeted with hot coffee from our Work Day sponsor, Metropolis Coffee. But coffee has other applications in the garden. At many local roasters and coffee shops, you can pick up spent grounds to add to your compost pile or...

Easy Freezer Tomatoe...

Canning tomatoes can seem a little daunting when the ingredients start with 10 pounds of tomatoes.  If you have a small garden plot or even a single tomato plant, you can still preserve your harvest with this simple recipe. Instructions: On a parchment-covered baking sheet or in an oven-proof...

Tomato POW(d)ER!

Tomato Preservation: Easy Homemade Tomato Powder Running out of ways to preserve your tomatoes? Canning and freezing are good options, but can take up space in your cabinet or freezer that you may not have this late in the season. Another easy way to bottle the fresh garden flavor...

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...

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...

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...