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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 a nicely sheltered, rounded 7-foot tall Japanese red maple on the southeast corner of my backyard. Half of the tree has lost its leaves, the formerly red bark is turning gray, and a good-sized square of bark has been stripped off on the side that faces the yard. I sprayed the exposed bark with black pruning spray to close any entry for insects. I have not cut off any of the branches.

Does the winter have any effect on the tree? Should I look for some insect infestation? What should I do now?

We have a skylight in the bathroom over our Jacuzzi tub with an area around the tub that is quite large. What plants can we grow there, and what care do they need? Can we grow orchids?

I’d like to block an unattractive view of my neighbor’s house/yard. What are some good plant/tree choices to hide unattractive views?

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