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From Garden to Table


No one wants to think about gardening when the temperatures hover in the single digits and the wind is howling, but before you know it, you’ll be able to get outside and start planting those lettuce and beet seeds.

At least I’ll be doing that because my soil thermometer and seed packets are ready to go. Once the snow melts and the top inch of soil reaches 45 F, I’ll sow a variety of lettuce — such as ‘Black Seeded Simpson’, ‘Speckled Trout’ and ‘Merlot’ — and four types of radishes. And they’ll be ready to harvest in about 28 days. You can do this, too.

Organic vegetable gardening continues to draw more gardeners, even those who have only dabbled in a few tomato and basil plants or in perennials. To address this growing interest, The Morton Arboretum in Lisle kicks off the first of its five EdibleGardening Workshops on Saturday, March 8 from 9:30 to noon.

“These workshops can help gardeners create fresh, new meal ideas from edibles growing right in their own backyard,” says Megan Dunning, the Arboretum’s manager of community education and outreach. “The instructors will offer new tips and techniques on how to make the most of a garden space or landscape by adding both beauty and function with edible plants.”

On March 8, horticulturist Katrina Chipman and I will show participants how to put some fun into their vegetables and their meals when we look at how to grow organic edible theme gardens. We’ll explain how to grow a pizza/salsa garden, a purple edible garden, a salad garden, an Asian stir-fry garden, a Brassica (think kale) garden, and an herbal beverage garden (think herbal wine or tea drinks).

The classes take place on Saturdays through April. See complete details here. And think spring.

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questions

I have twelve beautiful blooming violet plants on my office desk, placed 12 inches from a light source that’s kept burning day and night. I water them from the bottom and let the water remain in the saucer.

No matter what I spray, I continue to have gnats and other insects in my soil. I also occasionally start to get yellow spots on the tips of the leaves and then the spots start going down the leaves. What’s going on here?

My split-leaf Japanese maple tree is 15 to 20 years old, about 7 feet high and about 10 feet wide. It is overtaking the corner of the yard. Can I trim it, and at what time of the year?

Do the ants on my peony flowers help buds to open, or is this an old wives’ tale? What are the extremely tiny, microscopic yellow wormy looking bugs crawling on my pink peony flowers? My peonies are beautiful, but I don’t want all these bugs.

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