Sunday, September 28, 2008

Holding on to Summer

Well, October is knocking at our door in Chicago which means a few things are certain - it's getting cooler, trees are changing, and our summer vegetables are being replaced by pumpkin and squash.

Not so fast. Our first frost should hit around mid to late October so that means we still may see a few more tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, not to mention the lettuce and spinach I planted a few weeks ago.

The picture above is what I pulled out of the garden this past Saturday (the 27th). The tomatoes are a little smaller and the plants are on their downward spiral but I'm eating everything that comes out of my 150 square foot urban roof top garden.

I'm trying to stretch the seasons without the use of greenhouses - just good old fashioned timing and luck. Let's hope our weather holds out a few more weeks so I can enjoy my spinach and lettuce.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wasted Opportunity

Lately, the SIP (sub-irrigated container) seems to have gotten some nice publicity. It’s much deserved, in my opinion, since I use the commercial Earthbox variety with great success. I’m hopeful that the praise continues and more people can enjoy growing their own vegetables.

Some notable chefs here in Chicago have also jumped on the bandwagon and have used Earthboxes in their restaurant gardens. These gardens have been well publicized and likewise the chefs have reaped some well deserved “feel good benefits” as well.

So you can imagine my shock when I visited one of the restaurants to find three poor Earthboxes unused and sitting filled with mulch in the peak time of growing season. I won’t name the restaurant because it’s not fair to call attention to something without knowing the whole story. I gain nothing by calling attention to this individual or the restaurant, since I really enjoy the food there. All I know is that this particular restaurant gets some nice publicity on a non-profit website that states, “Fresh organic produce harvested right on the premises can now be used for fresh menu additions, food bank donations, and delicious gifts. Both of these restaurants are not-to-be-missed in the Chicago restaurant community, so check out their new gardens as you sit down for dinner!”

I’d like the photos to serve as a reminder. Although SIPs are much easier than tending an in-ground garden, it’s still work that takes time and dedication. It requires changing part of the way you spend your time and some of the ways you think. To use an old expression, “you reap what you sow”.

If you look at the picture hard enough, you’ll see a pathetic in-ground tomato plant. Imagine what that same plant would look like in the Earthbox!

On the other hand, if this restaurant isn’t planning on using their Earthboxes, I’d be glad to take them off of its hands and grow some real life vegetables in these things.