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Spring Has Sprung, So what are you planting this year?

It’s really starting to feel like spring around here these days! This past weekend one of my neighbors dug up a bunch of chives to give away, so I planted a few of those in a little corner of our garden along with some green onions I had regrowing in water on the windowsill.

Even better, I found that my oregano and thyme both came back from last year. The oregano is really trying to take over the whole space, so we’re going to have a little chat about that — but that just goes to show that anyone can grow herbs, if I haven’t yet managed to kill these. Last year I also grew basil, rosemary, sage, and parsley, and there’s nothing better than just grabbing a handful of fresh herbs from the garden to spice up dinner.

What are you planting this year?

So this past weekend I threw together a quick Greek vinaigrette for the week after seeing all the fresh oregano ready to go, yum. Kind of like the lemon garlic dressing here but with less lemon juice & some red wine vinegar instead, plus fresh oregano + a little basil added in.

I also need to do some cleanup around the thyme there that I really should have done in the fall. (See, anyone, even lazy gardeners, can grow herbs! lol) Plus, the corners of one of the beds gave up the ghost at the end of last year and collapsed, so we need to deal with that before planting anything new. Darn that entropy.

Aside from the herbs, we normally don’t do much other than tomatoes, several kinds of peppers, and spinach. Then fruit-wise we have a few raspberry bushes, a couple of mulberry trees, and one blackberry bush that carries on but doesn’t produce a lot. We do have a little pear tree and an apple tree, too, but neither of those produces much worth talking about.

This year I want to try adding in a couple more veggies, though. What recommendations do you guys have for garden vegetables that are easy to grow? What are you planting in your own garden this year? I haven’t had a lot of luck trying to branch out in the past…

I think that I shall never see, freebies as lovely as a tree…

Speaking of spring and planting new things: If you are in Illinois with me, the Illinois Tollway will be giving away free tree seedlings and wildflower seeds on Friday 4/28 in celebration of Arbor Day! Pick these up starting at 7AM, while supplies last, at the Tollway headquarters or at seven participating oases.

The Tollway will offer four varieties of tree species including shagbark hickory, red oak, pin oak and pecan that are native to Northern Illinois, along with information for planting care provided by The Morton Arboretum. In addition, the wildflower seed packets offered by the Tollway include two native flowers: monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot) and rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan) and will cover an area up to 25 square feet. These are drought-tolerant, full-sun species and will provide pollinators with an abundance of nectar throughout the summer.

The email I received also said that anyone who picks up a tree or seeds will receive a coupon for free entry to the Morton Aboretum, although I don’t see that mentioned in the press release itself. Follow the Tollway on twitter to see updates when locations are out of trees and seeds.


Thursday 27th of April 2017

I agree with chard - much more heat resistant than spinach. Lettuce is easy, but most varieties are not heat resistant, so it's been a spring/fall for me. Snap peas are our favorite. They produce like mad and taste wonderful (spring into early summer). I have also grown potatoes (like onions, buy bags of "seed" potatoes). Am not sure my yield was worth the garden space, but it was a whole lot of fun to dig them up at the end of the summer! The only onions I've done are green onions from normal seeds. Supposedly, onions are good to help keep out some insect pests from the garden, so I usually put them on the borders. Nice to have for those recipes that call for just a couple. I always have trouble with zucchini and cucumbers due to insect pests. Those squash borers are the creepiest, and am glad to hear others battle them, too.


Wednesday 26th of April 2017

I found onion sets at Menards for 99c for a bag of 100 several years back but last year forgot to look for them. I usually have the best luck with the yellow ones from there. My local fruit market here in Kankakee has them out in big barrels to scoop and weigh, which end up even cheaper than a penny each when they are small enough. Those are the best ones! I think they were white ones. I have not been lucky growing the red ones here though. I found those by accident 1 year while shopping for my bedding plants sometime around Mother's Day. People may not know what they are when they find them in bulk since they look like garlic or shallots? "Sets" are actually just "bulbs". I have grown fennel (an hour south of Chicago) and they had tons of tops but the bulbs did not get very large. I only tried them once from seed but my ground here is very hard and all clay, so if you have a better loam, I'd give them a try! I love Fennel too!


Wednesday 26th of April 2017

I am really big on the book Square Foot Gardening. It was originally written in the 80's, but the author came out with a new version a few years ago.I actually prefer the old version, but check both versions out of the library. He does not plant in rows, but plants in squares so he can fit more in, and then you don't need as large of a garden. Onion sets are kind of hard to find. The only places I have found them have been the nursery I go to in Evanston, Walmart and Menards. When I went to Home Depot one year looking for them the master gardener did not know what they were. They only take 3-4 weeks to get green onions. You could also do zucchini, but about 50% of the time the squash vine borer decimates my plant. That usually happens in July. To get around that you can plant a zucchini plant again about a month after you plant the first one. Swiss chard is also really easy to grow, and you plant the seeds once, and you have swiss chard to eat all summer long until Thanksgiving. Lettuce is another thing you can plant, but make sure you get some varieties that like hot weather, unless you only plan on growing them in the Spring or fall. Johnny's has some excellent lettuce seeds for warmer weather. I don't believe Home Depot carries any warm weather lettuce seeds.


Wednesday 26th of April 2017

has anyone ever tried to grow fennel in the southwest chicago area? I have discovered this awesome vegetable lately and would love to grow it but our area might be too hot


Wednesday 26th of April 2017

Try green onions from sets, those are so fast and fun to grow. You go pick what you want fresh....oh, those are what you are doing already from your sprouted kitchen ones, lol. I also have great luck with peas, beans and especially beets if you are a fan. Radishes are fun to grow sown with slow to germinate carrot seeds, they thin them for you when you pick the radishes! My rabbits here are weird....they never eat the things we read about in Mr. McGregor's garden. They do eat bushes and flowers and YES those new pea plant shoots and green beans for sure. They won't touch carrot tops or lettuce like you'd think!