Category Archives: Crops

Growing a whole diet

I spent the last weekend starting to clear an acre of land on the property our friends Mike and Clare recently bought in Harvard, Il.  I’m clearing the land so that we can plant a field of dry beans, grains, potatoes, and in the Fall garlic.  We chose to grow these crops in Harvard because while they grow, these plants are lower maintenance than many of our other crops (they will require less watering, less weeding, and no successive plantings), and they are crops that are harvested all at one time rather than repeatedly throughout the year.  I am planning on working for Clare and Mike on their farm two days a week, and for Patchwork Farms 4 days a week.  During the hours while I’m in Harvard, but not working with Clare, I will maintain our land.

We also chose to grow these crops in Harvard because they are experiments for us.  Neither of us have much experience growing grains or beans, so we didn’t want to devote any of our more expensive urban growing area to those crops.  We are putting the potatoes out there, too, because they round out our crop rotation nicely.  We really want to figure out how to grow grains and beans, because we want to see if we can grow our entire diet ourselves.   That’s another reason why we’re excited to be raising bees.  My roommates tapped Maple trees in Ukrainian Village last winter, and I was excited to help them this year.  Unfortunately, the mildness of this winter may have made maple syruping impossible this year, so it will be nice to raise some of our own honey to sweeten up our pantries. 

We are also hoping to find a place to raise laying chickens and ducks in the city this year.  We are thinking we might raise the flocks cooperatively–wherein people would pay to buy their own bird and pay for the year’s upkeep, and we would raise them as a flock and deliver everyone their eggs once a week.   We’ll be sure to post on the website if we decide to try a program like this. 

Also, if not this year, then next year I would love to try to raise some small game for eating (Molly is a vegetarian, and won’t be part of this endeavor).  I’m thinking about raising some rabbits, chickens, and or ducks.  I also want to get some Nigerian Dwarf Goats for milk. 

Oh how fun it is to daydream during the winter!


Seeds Ordered!

Since I got back from Texas in Mid-January, Molly and I have been flipping through and gushing over delicious looking seed catalogs–imagining what we want our gardens to produce this year.  We surveyed our CSA, and asked them what they wanted us to grow this year.  We also looked at all the beautiful vegetable pictures and read all of the glowing descriptions in the catalogs and decided to grow some new and exciting things!

This year we’ll  be growing these new fun things:

Atomic Red Carrots
Broccoli Raab
Cutting Celery
new, beautiful, little Eggplants
a number of different greens for the Spring and Fall
Rainbow Lacinato Kale (whatever will that be like?!)
Larger Storage Onions
Dry Beans
new Tomato Varieties
Red Turnips
Poblano Peppers
new, exciting (I promise) Winter Squashes
new Gourd varieties
Jack O Lantern Pumpkins

I’m most excited about expanding with Potatoes, Grains, and Beans.  I hope that we’ll be able to grow the majority of our whole year’s diet for ourselves and our roommates this year!

I’m also super excited about the PUMPKIN PATCH we will be planting in our Chicago Ave garden!!!!!!  We’re going to have Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkins, Gourds, and Loofah growing in the area around our vegetables beds!  It is going to be soooo fun to open it up on Sundays in the Fall for people to come pick out their pumpkins from a patch in their own urban neighborhood!!!!  I think it is going to be so great!

Once we finish up our seeding spreadsheet, if I can figure out how to, I’ll upload it onto this site.  That way people can look through it and see all the varieties we’re growing, when we are planning on planting things, and the way we plan and organize our gardens on paper. 

Here are some pictures of the pumpkins and gourds we are going to be growing this year:

Gourd, Warted Mixture   Gourd, Dinosaur   Gourd, Ten Commandments   Wooly Bear