Monday, April 29, 2013

Anomalous Weather The New Normal + First Salad Greens

Following an extremely wet Chicago spring--and one of the coolest--on Sunday the temps popped up to the 60s, the cool-weather greens that had been languishing on the roof perked up, and...

First salad (not the asparagus)

Today's high: 76F
Tomorrow's: 82F (20 degrees above seasonal normals)
Wed: 75F

Then we're back to highs in the 50s and lows in the high 30s (the greens will thrive).

Pendulum weather: wild temperature swings are apparently the new norm.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Transplanting Tomato Seedlings

H2 transplanted our tomato seedlings from the 4" grower pots to larger half gallon containers. They'll have enough room to form solid roots in the next 2 weeks before they're planted outside. In the meantime, they'll go back under my light rack.

In 4" containers.
In half gallon containers.
Blake and I wheeled the cart back to my place.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Seedling Starts - 2013

This year Heidi and I are starting fewer seedlings than in the past, but the results are still, well, green!

Tomato seedlings are 2-3 weeks away from going outside.
Heidi starts the seeds and I keep them going under my light rack. It's a nice way to split up the work.

The tomatoes are almost ready to be transplanted into quart pots.

In the background, in reused plastic containers, are cherry tomatoes, kale, and swiss chard.

L-R, Basil, chervil, borage.

I put together a series of posts on how to start seeds, under lights indoors, here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Combo: Planting Greens and Slamming Bankers

Planted some greens on the roof. Came in to find this video in my feed and wanted to pass it on.

After thinking systemically about food for a long while, it's obvious that finance has a stranglehold on everything.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Neighbor Carts: Chicago’s Freshest Social Purpose Business

Brilliant. Streetwise vendors currently sell a decent magazine. Now some will sell produce. Streetwise's mission:
To assist Chicago area men and women who are facing homelessness achieve personal stability by providing a combination of supportive social services and immediate access to gainful employment.
Produce stands are a practical answer for two of the top issues facing Chicago: unemployment and access to healthy foods.
More about neighbor carts here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Modest Garden...

Via Hudson Valley Seed Library:
 Henri Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) was a Swiss philosopher and poet.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Beloved Dogs: We Cry When They Depart

Fiona: March 16, 2001-April 7, 2013

Dogs we love have the unique ability to claim important parts of our hearts...and then start acting like it's their own private property. This poses a peculiar challenge when they move on. Even if they're not actually your dogs (but you love them pretty badly nonetheless).

We spent countless days with Fiona and her cousin Izzy, and very occasionally had the honor of dog-sitting. Gosh they were good, even when they decided Art's favorite chair was their favorite chair.

One time when the three of us were out walking, an older man approached, knelt to stroke them, and looked up with a smile, a tear spilling. He'd known and loved a Cavalier King Chas Spaniel who'd clearly occupied a place in his own heart.

Fiona and Iz craved human contact. They could never get close enough.

And if you were innocently taking a nap on your own floor
you could get accidentally kissed.

Who would not want to go camping with them?
But, you might be thinking, these lovely creatures didn't even live with you. In fact nobody writes more eloquently about Fiona's death than one of her dads:
She was as dear, smart, brave—indeed as stoic, loving, and affectionate a dog as one could ever hope to know. It is no exaggeration to say she single-handedly arranged for herself and her dear cousin Isidore to move in with us. 
How did that work? As puppies Izzy and Fiona lived upstairs, where they were severely neglected by the person who brought them into his life. Their own solution was to mount a natural charm offensive: 
Running down the stairs from their apartment every chance Fiona got, shaking her leash until we opened our door, and then racing in and around our apartment, with Izzy in tow (he may have been puzzled, but always wisely deferred to her judgment—and always profited by doing so), finally ending up in our arms. Even her then-owner acknowledged the obvious and asked if we would adopt them. 
I am certain I will never know another girl on four legs so beautiful.  Nor will I ever be kissed so passionately by a dog again.  She was a great Irish gift; we will miss her dearly, and we will surely never forget her.
 Izzy's generous spirit slowed and then stopped in the waning days of 2012. We loved him.

No dogs were more cherished than these two. We ache for our friends today, because buddha knows tiny pieces of their hearts are strewn all over Chicago. As are ours.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Young Greens Signal Spring

"Within the cosmology of Chinese medicine, human beings are regarded as microcosms of the natural universe. We are subject to the same cycles that occur in nature. Spring is a time of rebirth, sudden growth, and rapid expansion. Vital force pushes to the surface, bursting through the quiescent confinement of winter. A crescendo of excitement builds as the life process reawakens." Efrem Korngold
At left, lacinato kale from Wild Garden Seed, grown from seed purchased in 2009. At right, Georgia collards from Bountiful Gardens.

We're pinching and savoring these teaspoon size, intensely green flavors of spring. Plain or tossed with a trace of olive oil and sea salt, they're nutrient packed. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Seeding, Seedlings, Salad

from Hudson Valley Seed Library

It all beings on a turquoise tray with a heat mat underneath and some plastic wrap on top. Seeds are planted.

After they germinate, they travel to Bruce's warm light rack for a boost. When they outgrow their flat they get a quick transplant.

The it's back to the light rack to push a bit more growth.

(Carl helps, but he'd rather be outside showing me his stick.)

The komatsuna from Hudson Valley Seed Library is delicious, a truly low-heat mustard green. We're eager for it to flourish.

Along with the collards, they're heading to the roof to get planted out in SIPs. After the coldest March in 17 years, we're looking toward 60 degrees this week. Bring on the salad.