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This spring, people complained more than ever about the weather in Chicago. Supposedly we hit a record with the number of cloudy days and no sun we experienced. But in spite of the generally cold spring, I started planting pretty early this year.
First, I was shocked to find out in March that the garlic I planted last fall was still alive. In October we had some garlic lying around that started to sprout, and I randomly threw it in a pot I was too lazy to dump out in the fall. Fast forward six months later (when I started doing the clean up I should have done in the fall), I found happy, thriving little garlic plants!
I’ve always heard garlic was hardy, but I was doubtful the sprouts would survive our nasty Chicago winters. Lesson learned: never doubt garlic!
I spent a lot of time debating what I wanted to plant this year. Last year’s garden was really fun to take care of, but we ended up wasting a lot of the vegetables it produced. This year, I wanted to be more thoughtful about what I planted and focus on growing veggies that fit our lifestyle better.
First, I decided to grow one tomato plant, a cherry tomato variety called “Super Sweet”. Part of me regrets only getting one, so I might swing by the nursery and pick up another this weekend.
Last year’s Better Boy tomatoes were pathetically small, and the plant didn’t produce as much as I’d hope. But my cherry tomatoes always thrive. They also fit well into our diet. I use them for pico de gallo, avocado toast, salsa, pasta, and all kinds of things. So this year I’m sticking with just cherry tomatoes.
Another part of planing a more thoughtful garden involved picking produce that will continuously yield a crop throughout the season. I’d love to grow veggies like broccoli or brussels sprouts. But when you have limited space, one and done plants like these just aren’t worth the work (unless, of course, you genuinely enjoy growing those things).
I also picked up three pepper plants. Peppers were our big down fall last year. We invested a lot in hot peppers (like jalapenos and habaneros), and couldn’t keep up with them. I just couldn’t believe how much those plants were producing! Of course, my bell peppers totally underperformed and produced maybe 2 or 3 peppers total. Go figure!
This year I picked up two sweet pepper varieties and a poblano plant. Hopefully the little sweet peppers will flourish like last year’s serrano and habanero peppers. I have less confidence in the poblano peppers, but we’ll see!
And lastly, in 2022 I’m going all in on a vibrant herb garden. We cook more than ever now, and herbs are increasingly becoming a bigger part of our lifestyle. Some new herbs for me this year are oregano and rosemary. I can’t wait to start cooking with them!
It feels so good to finally have my garden back. Hopefully this year’s attempt to be more “thoughtful” proves to create a high yield garden we can fully enjoy. Stay tuned for the results!