Harvesting Potatoes

Potatoes are one of those vegetables that seem so plain and cheap…so why allot precious garden space to growing them? Not only are there many more different varieties of potatoes that what we see in the grocery store, but potatoes are also incredibly satisfying because they are so easy to grow! Potatoes have few pests and diseases to contend with in our area, and for the most part don’t require constant tending. While fertile soil and regular watering well help produce a larger harvest, we’ve even seen totally neglected potato plants that have never been hilled (but were originally planted with a thick layer of mulch) produce  an admirable crop, making them a great value in the garden. We can get two potato harvests in our Chicagoland climate – one in July and another in October. For a July harvest, plant seed potatoes (cuttings or whole potatoes containing at least one “eye”, not actual seeds) in mid-April. You can start the potatoes a little earlier by putting the seed potato or cutting in a 2-4″ pot with potting soil a few weeks before transplanting, which will result in a small plant that looks like a tomato seedling. This can be transplanted outdoors in the same way as a tomato – with the stem buried in the ground. For an October harvest, plant by mid-July. Potatoes will grow well in the soil, in a container, or in a raised bed.     Though typically called “root” vegetables, potato tubers form from modified stems called stolons. Why hill potatoes? Hilling is simply covering the potato vines with loose soil, usually twice during the growing period. This is done for two reasons: 1) to provide more soil contact with stems, which will put down more stolons to produce potato tubers, resulting in a larger harvest and 2)...

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 day-old bread. With a short shelf life, it’s not surprising: produce may be harvested at a farm days or weeks in advance of arriving at a distributor before it is transported again to neighborhood grocery stores. If it sits on the shelf too long, it’s more likely to spoil and be unsafe to eat, which often happens before the produce can make it to a pantry. Many gardeners choose to grow their own food for different reasons: to eat more seasonally, to show their children where food comes from, or to have the fresh, healthy food for dinner. However, some gardeners grow food for others who cannot, or for people who otherwise would not have access to fresh produce. Since the beginning, Peterson Garden Project has worked with volunteers who grow food for neighborhood pantries and soup kitchens in each of their pop-up community gardens. These volunteer gardeners not only have their own plot at the garden to tend, but also prepare, plant, water, weed and harvest produce in the Grow2Give plots between April and November every year. This huge undertaking requires coordinating watering schedules, frequent garden visits, and sometimes harvesting in the rain or cold to get the produce to the pantry during a narrow drop-off time. In 2015, our Grow2Give volunteer gardeners grew over one ton (2,000+ pounds) of fruits and vegetables just for our neighborhood pantries and soup kitchens: Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park, Inspiration Café in Uptown, Lincoln...

Join Us for 30 Days of Doing!...

The weather may be getting chilly, but we’re warming up for 2017 programs and scholarships! Join us October 15 to November 15 for team-building, volunteering and community engagement as we work towards our mission to recruit, educate and inspire everyone to grow and cook their own food! There are plenty of opportunities to get involved: volunteer in the garden, sign up for a cooking class, join us for a drink at an Inspiration Eve, and much more. Click the event name below for more details. We’ll be adding more info as it solidifies, so stay tuned! If you can’t attend an event, you can still be part of the 30 Days of Doing by donating to the online campaign HERE.   Garden with us! Saturday, October 15 Grewbie 102 Class Saturday, October 22 All Garden Work Day Glorious Garlic in the Garden Class Saturday, October 29 “Mulch Magic” Garden Class Tuesday, November 8-Thursday, November 10 Garden Gleaning Sunday, November 13-Monday, November 14 Garden Gleaning   Cook with us! Sunday, October 16 Sundays with Seniors Cooking Class (all ages welcome) Tuesday, October 18 Cooking Demonstration, 5-6:30 pm Whole Foods Edgewater 6009 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660 Thursday, October 20 Canning 101: We Can Pickle That Friday, October 21 Fresh Fridays: Cancer-Fighting Foods Tuesday, October 25 Cooking Demonstration, 5-6:30 pm Whole Foods Edgewater 6009 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660 Thursday, October 27 Herbs 101 Cooking Class Tuesday, November 1 Cooking Demonstration, 5-6:30 pm Whole Foods Edgewater 6009 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660 Friday, November 4 Fresh Fridays: Brain Foods Saturday, November 5 Fermentation 101: Homemade Vinegar Sunday, November 6 Sundays with Seniors Cooking Class Tuesday, November 8 Cooking Demonstration, 5-6:30 pm Whole Foods Edgewater 6009 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660 Tuesday, November 15 Baking 101: Quick Breads   Eat and Drink...

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