Grow, Grewbie, Grow: 10 Tips for New Gardeners...

This first of our two plant sales is this weekend. After a long, cold winter we’re excited to select our plants and get out into our gardens this year. We’ve been doing this for a few years now. But what if you’re new to gardening? You’re what we call a grewbie – a garden newbie. We love our grewbies! Every year they show up, eager, excited and a little scared. Here’s some of the advice we share with them. 1. Mother Nature is our best friend … and sometimes our worst enemy. One of the joys of gardening is becoming less distracted from our high technology, media stimulated world and settling back into the rhythms of nature. She is a little moody these days due to climate change and she’s keeping us on our toes. You never know what nature is going to throw at you but, as a gardener, you learn to adapt. 2. You will make mistakes. This is a promise and part of the fun. Even as a lifelong gardener I make lots of mistakes. Sometimes the same ones – see Top 5 Dumb Gardening Mistakes as a case in point. Just forgive yourself and move on – gardens are a good place to learn to not take yourself so seriously. 3. Your garden won’t look like Martha Stewart’s garden. Most normal peoples’ gardens aren’t photo ready and perfect. Sometimes leaves are brown or plants are scraggly as they’re getting started or ending their growing cycle. Sometimes insects like to camp out and there might be disease. You will learn to deal with these things and love your garden with its imperfections. 4. In fact, you might over love your garden but not in the way it needs… while last year over watering seemed impossible...

Waking the Garden Up

Earth Day is this weekend, which is a typical planting date for cool-weather crops in Chicagoland. Cool-weather crops such as broccoli, kale, and parsley can handle slight dips in nighttime temperatures, provided they have been hardened off properly. This is also a great time to plant radish, carrot, and spinach seeds directly in the garden. Be careful not to transplant warm-weather crops such as basil and tomatoes yet. These plants may be damaged by nighttime lows below 55 and are better off planting around mid-May, unless going into a cold frame or plastic-covered high or low tunnel. Earth Day is also the the time to get the garden ready to wake up. This month you’ll want to: -Inspect your garden for returning perennials such as strawberries, thyme, mint, oregano, sage, tarragon, chives, and lavender. Keep in mind some perennial herbs may not fully leaf out until mid-late May, so don’t assume they are dead just yet. -Begin hardening off your overwintered rosemary -Pull weeds, inside and outside of the bed -Remove heavy mulch around your fall-planted garlic plants – only a light mulch is needed at this time -Examine your plot for self-seeded plants such as dill, lettuce, and borage. Bonus! -Condition, prep, and protect your soil How to condition your soil: If you didn’t add compost last fall, do it now. This is the time to remove worm castings from your indoor bin, finished compost from your outdoor bin, or purchase a quality compost. Compost adds essential carbon to the soil (organic matter) for beneficial soil microbes and fungi to digest, as well as bind to soil particles to increase nutrient and water retention. If you want to improve the quality of your soil, compost is the way to go. For a 4’x8′ bed, you’ll want to add anywhere from...

Come Together: 5 Ways You Can Help the Plant Sales...

The 2016 Peterson Garden Project plant and bake sales are fast approaching. This year’s plants sales are going to be bigger and better than ever. We’re moving to a new, larger location in Uptown, introducing new plant varieties (including edible flowers) and planning some special events and appearances. This sale is going to be so nice, we’re having it twice – a cool weather crop sale in April and a hot crop/bake sale in May. We count on a big turnout at our plant sales to help us fund the gardens and community cooking school. Whether you garden with us or in your own backyard, buying your garden supplies at our plant sales help us finance our organization. It takes a lot of manpower to throw a big event like this. And that’s where you come in. Here are five ways you can help us: 1. Sign up to volunteer: As our biggest event of the year, we need a lot of volunteers to help make the plant sales a success. From merchandise set up and tear down to cashiers and customer service, it takes a village to put on plant sales of this size. Check out the volunteer page for a full list of opportunities. 2. Baker, baker, bake us some goods: The Plant Sale that’s slated for Mother’s Day weekend will also include a bake sale. Bring us your cookies, your scones, your cupcakes and breads. Sign up to volunteer to supply your delicious baked goods to our May plant sale. 3. Help us make media connections: If you’re a member of the media – or know someone who is – help us distribute our plant sales press release. You can also help by making introductions to media contacts by emailing communications@petersongarden.org. 4. Help us...

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