Friday, May 14, 2010

Putting in the garden

I cheated the frost date by a day, and put seeds into my garden today.

The very first thing I ever grew on purpose was an edible- raspberries from the backyard of my friend Holly's grandparents. More than 20 years later, they're still going strong, with offspring growing in other Chicago gardens, as well as in friends' gardens in Ontario, New York, and Nebraska.

What with losing half my employment this year, I decided to take on numerous web challenges: the Growing Challenge to put in something new every year; Project Grow for Spitfire nasturtiums, which several dozen gardeners all over North America are testing for Renee's seeds; Eat Real Food to try to eat SLOW: Seasonal, Local, Organic, Whole.

My own personal challenge is to grow and preserve enough vegetables to make it through January. I routinely get into November still harvesting, but I haven't put as much energy into saving my food.

I've got 480 square feet+, including a new bed that increased the growing area by a third. Over the next several weeks, I'll slowly be planting seeds and starts. So here's my garden this year:

The Serpentine Bed
Cherry Tomatoes, Black Beans, Roma VF tomato to save seeds for Populuxe seed bank/, Broccoli, turnips/ climbing beans/ cucumber, winter melon, dill/ onions, beets, carrots.

The Wagon Wheel Bed

Two types of eggplants, Dragon Tongue beans from MrBrownThumb, Spitfire nasturtiums/Blue Lake and Slenderette bush beans, 5 types of heirloom tomatoes, parsley, garlic/ parsnips, leeks, spinach, onions/snow peas, radishes, then shell beans in succession, bell peppers in pots.

Garage sideyards

Pumpkin and mustard
Greens, then asparagus, raddichio, bok choy/broccoli

Three sisters bed

Two types of heirloom corn, Ghost rider pumpkin and Butternut squash from Chiot's Run, pole beans, nasturtiums plus shishito peppers in a pot.

The Savory bed
Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, chamomile, cilantro (coriander), summer savory, caraway, taragon, mint in a pot, plus fragrant ornamentals

Here and there: cabbage, brussels sprouts, strawberries, concord grapes, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, more chamomile, more mint, more cilantro, lavender, salad burnett.

Many of the seeds came through swaps from the community on, and a good number of them from Chicago garden bloggers through Shady Swap. The pictures are from last fall.

I also have 600 square feet or more of ornamentals and a pond. I do not have lawn.

So-delicious it might be illegal Tilapia in coconut lime sauce with asparagus

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
Zest and juice from two limes
1 T finely diced candied ginger
1 T finely diced cilantro leaves (from the garden)
1 T peanut oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound tilapia from

Fresh asparagus in season

Put all sauce ingredients in a small food processor or blender and mix. Melt 2 T butter in a frying pan, sear both sides of the tilapia, then add the sauce and simmer til fish is cooked through. Place asparagus on top of it, turn heat to low or intermittent, cover and steam until asparagus is bright green.

For vegan, substitute portobello or lots and lots of shiitake mushroom, plus pine nuts for the fish.

Serve over basmati rice.


  1. That sounds just wonderful, Xan! I like the Thai influence on fish.

  2. Wow...what a wonderful garden you have! I love that you don't have lawn...thanks for the recipe it sounds delightful! kIm

  3. Mmm, just need some pho with that!