Saturday, May 30, 2009

Squirrel Problems

We have way way way too many squirrels running around our yard. Our plants don't have fruit yet, but I know they will be ravaged by the fluffy rats when they do. How do you protect your veggies? Last year I had an extensive physical barrier complete with a bird-net top. This kept them out, but this year my garden is bigger and not situated as well for the barrier. Home brew sprays? Pepper keeper-outer spray?

Here is one recipe from

On a side note, I reapplied the fish emulsion (see blog post here) and neighbor Nancy though we were preparing fish. At least the stink isn't too horrible and goes away in a day or so.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tomato stakes

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Ok, pea plants. Going to stake them tomorrow.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oak Park Sharing network

Just read in the Chicago Sun Times about local neighbors pooling their cash on a $1,200 wood chipper. My mother-in-law also has a time-share snow plow on the block. How many other Urban Gardener/Farmer types share tools and equipment for their yard and gardens? I have always bugged neighbor Chris for his rototiller (but I am trying not to rototill any more).

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thinning the corn

I always hate thinning out plants that actually came up. In this case, I want bigger popcorn stalks so I'll do it. I also planted all of my "survivor" seedlings in a side bed, again, I can't stand to get rid of stuff that I helped to grow.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009


I want to mulch the beds now- any opinions on what kind? I'm leaning toward some straw. I sometimes get free mulch from the Village of Oak Park from the "secret" tree trimmer truck dump, but that mulch is pretty woody and it is a pain to load it up into the van.

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3 Sisters corn

Is up! Now time to plant the pole beans and squash.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Rain Barreling

I can't stand the spigot at the bottom of the rain barrel. The pressure of the water just won't be enough for me. So, instead, I pop off the top of the rain barrel and jam my watering can down in the water. A bit messier, but 10x faster. I'm still looking for rain barrel number two, though my budget is shot for this season.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Longfellow plant sale basil

Mr. Pod, my boy's last year 3rd grade teacher started a bunch if plants from seed in the classroom. The plant sale is the end product! There are two sweet basil plants on the right side from the sale and one purple in the upper-right hand section. The lame little thing on the lower-right hand section is one I tried to start from seed. We'll see how far that gets.

On a side note, I ran into neighbor Mike and his little girl (alley neighbors) who just started some pumpkin seeds in their garden! Also, neighbor Chris just built a sweet hutch-style protected garden next to his garage (rabbit and other varmint protection). And finally, my ex-patriot friend (Jonathan) in the Great White North just started a garden with the help of his father-in-law. (also, he's gonna be a papa pretty soon).

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Oak Park Gardening in the Chicago Tribune

The Trib recently ran an article about urban gardening, focusing on Oak Park. (more on Oak Park's efforts here) I like some of the ideas about how to get started (container gardening, etc), but think that some of the advice makes a novice get a bit itchy or worried about doing something wrong. Don't worry, just plant, weed and water and wait.

Italian Garden Bed Plan

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Midwest Garden Bed Plan

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Mexican Bed Garden Plan

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Here are some lettuce sprouts, I picked some last night to be microgreens. Yum. I still need to thin this out quite a bit so the lettuce has room to grow. I think maybe one every 3 or 4 inches. Below the greens are onions (walla walla) and garlic, above is oregano (transplanted) and two rosemary plants.
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Here is my girl showing off her part of the garden. You can se we have about 2 feet next to the sidewalk that runs all the way back to the alley. She has Zinnias and Popcorn started.
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I'm not the only Microfarmer in Illinois

There is another microfarmer in Illinois, I'm not alone.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oak Park Rain Barrels

There are many decorative rain barrels all over Oak Park recently, and my only comment (and headscratching moment) is "WHY AREN'T THEY HOOKED UP TO A DOWN-SPOUT??" They are supposed to be for catching the rain, but some of them are even positioned under a roof. Are they going to be auctioned off? I'm looking for barrels number two and three! Call me!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Three Sisters Garden

This is the start (humble start) of my "Three Sisters Garden", an Iroqouis tradition of planting the "three sisters", corn, beans and squash. The idea is to plant the corn, let the beans crawl up the corn and have the squash provide ground cover to the other plants. My take on it involves the string/grid setup, where I have 1-foot squares in the 4x8 garden bed, giving me 32 equal squares (shout out to Boing Boing for a more detailed listing).

More details about the practice and legend at this Three Sisters Site.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cool Garden Planner

I wish I had viewed this site before starting my gardens, but OH WELL. My stuff is already in the ground.

Garden Planner

(Mark, are you looking at this? I know you have a bunch of empty boxes all ready to go!)

Shopping at Clover's

I scoped out a few garden stores (Home Depot, Good Earth Greenhouse, etc) in the area, but my wife kept telling me Clover's was the place to go (the only place she has bought plants lately). Clover's is a seasonal place that sets up a number of Chicagoland parking lot locations and we normally go to the one in Berwyn (near where the Car-Kabob) once stood (sniff). I love their selection and the prices weren't too bad (under 2 bucks for a 4-pack of 3-inch veggies). We found EVERYTHING we wanted, including the yellow pear tomatoes that E and Mar love so much.

Container Gardening

I was asked this weekend by a cousin about starting some vegetable gardening at her townhouse and found some great information from Texas A&M

I was pretty happy with the information, and the best part is this site doesn't overwhelm with too much useless chatter.

Here Fishy, Fishy (or something smells fishy in here)

I just bought this FISH EMULSION for the garden. Every book I've been reading has been talking about this and I hope it helps my veggies get fruit and grow large. It is kind of brown and soupy and has pungent odor, but the container said it should be "odorless". Maybe after applying it. Hopefully. It says it is 5-1-1 NPK which is shorthand chemical speak for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, all good things your plants want and need to grow.

And HERE is a link to how Alaska Fish Fertilizer is created.
Test from crackberry

Watering Setup

I have two milk crates set up in the middle of the raised garden beds. With our less-than-stellar (crappy) water pressure the spread is about 80 %.


I'm starting this new blog, forking it off my Oak Park Dad blog. My interest is in posting about my experiences starting a raised bed garden (actually 4 of them) in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I'm going to post pictures up frequently (hopefully) of the progress of my Oak Park MicroFarm. Neighbor Shawn gave me some of her zucchini plants last night that she started from seed at her house.

I also want to get lots of comments and suggestions for your Urban Garden or Micro Farm!