Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sharing Some Ice Cream

The Boy shares some ice cream with the Mrs after a hard days work.  Lovely.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pumpkin Surprise

Got a little surprise Friday morning. Susy over at and I had swapped some seed this winter. One of the things I got in the (much appreciated) trade were some Rouge de Vif Etempes pumpkin seeds. I put some in my seed starter, but not one came up. I may have planted at the wrong depth perhaps, or made some other mistake, so I resolved to plant some directly outdoors at various depths and see what came up. A week later, I am looking at my seed starter, which only has about four plants left and BANG, out of nowhere after 7 or 8 weeks in the starter this pumpkin pops up. The thing is practically exploding out of the pot!

I guess I will do some transplanting today!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Few Updates

Sorry about the weird lighting, I took these at dusk, so some of them needed a flash and others it didn't work.

The beds (as you can see if you have Super-Vision) are all planted.

We have grapes! It looks like about 20 bunches of grapes, most of them mid to small size.

We got apples! Granny Smiths on the way!

Yummy. Yummy. Yummy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Planting Fool

Finally put a plan together Friday, finished the beds and (save two small additions) got all the planting done.

The small additions are an additional blackberry which I successfully grew from a cutting over the winter and some acorn squash. I thought I had saved seed, but can't find it for my life, so I am going to have to buy it.

I need to get pictures, but I planted Monday night until it started to rain and I haven't been here when it wasn't raining since. Will do as soon as I can.

I was surprised how much work planting all that additional area really was.

I also have my eye on asparagus for next year.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Beds Full, Area Cleared, Breathtaking Stupidity, and No Plan.

The wife and I got the beds filled yesterday, got the strawberries beds finished, filled and planted, cleared the area in the back, repaired the underground cable I cut (did you ever take your own breath away with your own stupidity? well, I am still having trouble breathing), and realized its time to plant and I have no planting plan.

I am a consumate planner. What we are going to plant. Check. Design and execute new garden. Check. Orders in. Check. Orders back. Check. Seedlings in and hardened. Check. What gets planted where. Uhhhhh.....

Friday, May 22, 2009

Big Days Ahead

Today the wife and I took off to work in the garden/yard. Took the little on to daycare. Been hardening off the seedlings, have lots of things to plant! Literally tons of dirt to move. YAY

Two days ago the green market I go to had "heirloom" tomatoes on sale. 99 cents a pound sale. Just about FREAKED OUT, bought a couple of pounds. Got them home, prepped a salad with what were a cardinal red ribbed tomato and someting that looked like a flattened Cherokee Purple. Taste the tomato and .... might as well have put some styrofoam on the salad.

I SOOOO want to taste a real tomato.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Favorite Shot

Almost forgot, here is my favorite picture from this weekend.

Busy Weekend


The girls and my parents were here this weekend. Had a great time and played lots of Agricola. Got some help with the garden as well. Didn't get quit as far as we hoped, but go far enough that we have some great pictures and some work to show. Shall we get too it?

Here we have all three of my kids staining the beds on the outside. Notice the little one was not supposed to be helping, hence no smock. He got one later. We had to till some earth to get the ground more to the planned form (I would say level, but thats not the case, we need to keep the drainage moving) and get the beds placed. Finally.

It feels SO good to have reached this point. I was hoping to have the beds filled and plants in, but it has been unseasonably cold (freeze warning last night!) that I think it will all work out for the better.

Also finished the strawberry beds. Now we have to get soil moved into the one and get it planted as well.

Have a good one!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

While I Wait For It to Dry Up Outside...

While I wait for it to dry up a little, I decided to go back to my crop list for this year and update it a little. I have had a few failures already.

1) The garlic I put in last fall all rotted.
2) My raspberries are looking pretty rough, but will hopefully make it.
3) I cannot find French Tarragon
4) Looks like the cherry trees did not survive the winter

I have also had a few successes.

1) Got my rosemary going strong
2) Blackberries survived the winter
3) Grapes going strong
4) Strawberries going CRAZY
5) Have a lot of seedlings going successfully
6) Looks like the apple trees survived the winter and might bear this year (!!!)

Here are the plants I have started from seedlings successfully:

Tomatoes (Brandywine, Black From Tula, Cherokee Purple, Super Sweet 100, Dr Wyche's Yellow, Aunt Ruby's Green German, Green Zebra, Lemon Boy, Costoluto Genovese, Roma, San Marzano, Tumbling Tom)
Cabbage (Copenhagen Market)
Peppers (Zavory, Marconi, Serrano, Poblano, Thai, Cayenne)
Broccoli (Calabrese)
Sweet Basil

There are some plants I plan to direct sow from seed and was hoping to get in this weekend:
Cucumbers (Parisian Pickling, Tasty Green), Lettuce (Iceberg A, Mesclun, Mixed), Radishes (French Breakfast), Turnips (Purple Top), Carrots (Danvers Half Long), Parsley, Chinese Parsley, Cilantro, Coriander, Squash (Acorn, Crookneck, Verte Blanc, Rouge vif de Etempes, Black Beauty, Fordhook Zuchs), Sunflowers (Super Snack), Beans (Scarlet Runner, Blue Lake Bush), Cabbage (Toy Choi)

There are a lot of plants I have sets or starts for of some sort or another:

Sweet Potatoes (Centennial)
Potato (French Fingerilng)
Onions (Yellow, shallots),

Still need to get Oregano and Sage as well.


Hope to throw some more pictures up tonite or tomorrow. If I get anything done.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Two of my neighbors had their property sprayed today. They sprayed with fertilizer (I could live with that), Dimension (a pre-emergent) and Triplett SF (herbicide). If I had put out my veggies already they would have been hit with this (which, thankfully, I am behind, so they weren't out yet), but what REALLY worries me is the pre-emergent. I am REALLY worried about getting my seed sown plants to germinate and grow (lettuce, turnips, carrots, bok choi, radicchio, pumpkins, squash, zuchs, beans, etc, etc, etc). I had trouble last year with my squash and Paul over at and I narrowed it down to pre-emergent. I have been so careful to have this happen now is just heart breaking.

I am also really worried about my raspberries, blackberries, grapes, and strawberries.

I want to SCREAM!!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Youngest Gardener

Dad, this is MY hat.

Where We Are Now

Here is where the garden is at now. We have three of the raised beds installed but not filled all the way yet. We went with the 12 inche deep beds so root vegetables have plenty of space to grow (looking forward to the carrots, potatoes, turnips, and sweet potatoes!) and so the tomatoes, etc, have a good base to defend from the wind. We get plenty of wind.

One of the things we were looking for was also kind a formal presentation. So there will be a linear walkway between the wall and the raised beds. Eventually it will be filled with (locally found) gravel. This kind of limits the options, but we did find three options and I am sure one of them will work.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Berm Almost Done

Here is the berm almost finished.  It still needs a layer of mulch on top.  The arborvitae will function as a windscreen (it really is the Windy City) and as a screen.  It also doubles as a terrace to level the planting area behind.

Filling the Dirt Burrito

Marguerite is filling the "dirt burrito".  She managed to fill it with a perfect ridge of dirt.  She had a great technique, so I was dirt mover, she was dirt placer for the last phase of the berm.

Dirt Burrito

Here you can see the wall finished.  We lined the walls with weed barrier then wrapped it around the soil in the berm.  Or, as my wife put it, we made a dirt burrito.

The Wall

Andrew and I started the wall on the compacted sand and Marguerite and I built it up.

The Wall

Andrew and I cut a trench for the retaining wall.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Berm and Raised Beds

Here are some pics of the berm and raised beds.  These were taken from the upper floor of the house and are presented first to latest.  More to come as we keep the work going

Early April - Cutting sod with the family.

Mid April -  Sod gone!

More posts on this later as I find the images.

Chicago Mike Starts Blogging

Hello.  Many of you will know me from  My posts will probably be limited to a few a week with more or less as needed.  I will focus mainly on garden and yard issues.  Anyways, WELCOME!