Here is a hot little story that hopefully, not too many of you can relate to. The Chopping Block has a plot of soil in the local community garden in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. Our employees take care of the garden and in turn, harvest the vegetables.
In early June, we planted organic vegetable seeds with the intentions of planting vegetables with high yields of fruit since we only have a 12×12 square foot area. If anyone has read up on gardening in small spaces, there is one method that allows you to plant many varieties that grow well together and allow for large yields. This type of gardening is called “Square Foot Gardening”. You can map out your area by placing nails around the perimeter of border nails and then starching out bailing twine or butchers twine to get these square foot areas that you can see. We planted our seeds without the twine but in our heads visually mapped out the area. We planted turnips, parsnips, zucchini, kale, beets, mache, eggplant, watercress and a couple other vegetables as well.
I usually store my seeds at home in a cool, dark place to preserve their shelf life but when we decided to plant, I found my seeds on a shelf on my back porch. What that means is that the hot sun was beating into the plastic container for who knows how long. I was hopeful that this was not an issue and every week we have been watering. But a month later, we are only seeing the turnips and zucchini grow well.
So, I decided to buy some organic plants from a local gardening store to replace the seeds that weren’t sprouting. I found some good tomato, tomatillo and herb plants earlier this week and planted them on July 3rd. I’ve watered them each morning and night since putting them in the ground. However, the issue is that it has been 100 degrees plus here in Chicago this week and the plants’ roots have not had time to grow while the leaves are getting burnt up.
Here are the lessons we’ve leaned so far this gardening season: plant your garden nice and early when the weather is cool. Do not use seeds that have been stored in hot, sunny areas. And if your garden is not to your liking, work it up and start again.