Monday, December 24, 2007


Mint, dill, chives, parsley cilantro, purple and green basil.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

The fall garden...

is gentle,
is hardy
and is most definitely a survivor.

After countless frosts and some light freezes the survivors stand ready to serve. So on this day after Thanksgiving, I give thanks to those who have camped out in the cold so that they could warm our hearts and feed our souls on this special holiday.

Broccoli...for the vegetable tray and the broccoli souffle.

Celeriac roots...for puree, remoulade and a delicious addition to the mashed potato casserole.
Celeriac tops..for straws in our Bloody Mary's.

Parsley, rosemary, thyme and sage...for seasoning the turkey and stuffing.

Butternut squash...for the butternut squash au gratin with goat cheese.

Beets, spinach and kale for just being there.

Leeks for their subtle flavor in the turkey soup.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Record for Chicago Area?

November Tomatoes...

I've only been at this organic vegetable gardening thing for two years so maybe I'm easily impressed. But tomatoes riping in the garden on November 6th without a cold frame--isn't that a bit unusual?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

Oh what a beautiful day. Everyday starts with these blue beauties greeting me on the way to my backyard green grocer where I harvest the fresh chives, tomatoes and basil to throw into my breakfast omelet--such big rewards for so little effort.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Dateline: Chicago, October 8, 2007

It feels a little bit surreal to be walking barefoot across my patio hoping to catch a cooling breeze on October 8th in my zone 5 local. My garden still thinks it's summer. The tomatoes are literally bursting at their seems, the green peppers glow with sweat and the basil stretches skyward. The irony--my just arrived Martha Stewart Living is awash with Thanksgiving perparations. Yesterday, the Chicago Marathon had to be stopped after 3 hours and 45 minutes due to the heat. Who knows, maybe that was the Cubs problem on Saturday. But, I know, in spite of global warming, this most likely will be a short lived respite from Chicago's long winter. I'm thinking another day like today won't happen again for seven to seven and a half months so I'm loving it and will worry about the Thanksgiving turkey tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Food Glorious Food

A short walk to the yard, no gas, no bags...just a wicker harvest basket. How easy, how satisfying, how green.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When Life Gives You Lemons

Surprise, surprise...someone at my local garden center must have either been confused or decided to have a good time at the expense of naive gardeners--as several of the six packs I bought last spring were mismarked. So instead of cucumbers, I got butternut squash--instead of zucchini, I got acorn squash. The leaves are similar and I was duped. The finished product is not similar--and now I have more squash than I know what to do with. Squash soup anyone! The good thing, squash is a good keeper--so I'll be able to enjoy food from the garden on Thanksgiving--maybe even Christmas.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cool Idea for a Warming Situation

On 7/7/07 Live Earth concerts to raise awareness and demand action to find solutions to global warming will be held in Johannesburg, London, New Jersey, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo.

The performances will feature classic acts such as the Police, Madonna, Smashing Pumpkins, Bon Jovi and Metallica as well as contemporary artists including Kanye West, Wolfmother, Rihanna Akon and Kelly Clarkson. In addition people
will be asked to sign the climate change pledge.

Here's the text of the pledge:


1. To demand that my country join an international treaty within the next 2 years that cuts global warming pollution by 90% in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy earth;

2. To take personal action to help solve the climate crisis by reducing my own CO2 pollution as much as I can and offsetting the rest to become "carbon neutral;"

3. To fight for a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store the CO2;

4. To work for a dramatic increase in the energy efficiency of my home, workplace, school, place of worship and means of transportation;

5. To fight for laws and policies that expand the use of renewable energy sources and reduce dependence on oil and coal;

6. To plant new trees and to join with others in preserving and protecting forests; and,

7. To buy from businesses and support leaders who share my commitment to solving the climate crisis and building a sustainable, just, and prosperous world for the 21st century.

If you are interested in signing the pledge you can do so at

Keep your cool. gg

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Fruits of My Labor

First Blueberry....... First Potato......

I couldn't be more delighted. It's almost like giving birth again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Original Green Gardener

Happy 100 Birthday Anniversary, A. Richard Kuhrt (alias,Dad), born June 19, 1907

When you were born, who could have imagined a blog that could be written in the comfort of one's home or backyard and appear instantaneously around the world. You would have loved it because you were always forward thinking. In addition to your love for nature, you were a techno geek--the first of your friends to own a wireless (radio), a "wire" recorder, a television, and a Polaroid "Land" camera. You carried no prejudice. You treated everyone with respect no matter what race, religion or class.

Your garden and lawn were your pride and joy. You made your own compost. You loved using your push mower. You hated the noise of power mowers and only as you got older gave into an electric mower. You refused to use pesticides. Instead you would hand pick the weeds or get me and all the neighborhood kids out in the yard to pick dandelions for a penny a piece or a nickle if we got the whole root. We would fill up bushel basket after bushel basket--raking in the money and then riding our bikes to Angies to buy baseball cards and candy.

You were way ahead of your time and taught me well.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Endangered Species?

Are the 17-year periodical cicadas endangered? Looking at the photo above, one may think, no way. But my non-scienctific observations make me wonder. Having lived in the same location in 2007 as I did for the 1990 invasion, I have observed a smaller number of cicadas. I remember the 1990 cicada's were so thick on the screens of our porch that we could hardly see out. I also remember it being almost impossible to go for a walk or sit outside because of swarms of the 1990 cicada's flying at my face. According to various reports, certain areas, including the nearby outdoor Ravinia Music Festival grounds, have not experienced the expected onslaught of the Brood. As an organic gardener, I am concerned. I am wondering if the huge amount of pesticides that have been put into the ground in the name of keeping lawns "green" and weed-free are claiming lives of many of these amazing critters. I hope not, I hope they will return in all their glory in 2024.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bad Dog

Frightened red eye cicadas are taking over my house. They arrive on a wing and a prayer-- hitching a ride on whomever enters. Unlike their constantly roaring outdoor counterparts, these indoor bugs speak in stops and starts, screeching in fear of their unknown surroundings. It's a race between my black lab and I to see if they will be returned to nature or become a gourmet dog treat. The lab usually wins. Bad dog.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Radishes Everywhere

Having never been a big fan of radishes, but hearing that they are quick and easy to grow…I threw a packet of radish seeds into my organic vegetable garden a few weeks ago and now, low and behold, I am experiencing a radish population explosion. What to do?

My first question as I began pulling the attractive redheads from the ground was, “What about the leaves—are they edible or are they poisonous like the leaves of rhubarb?”

Upon research, I learned more than I needed to know about radishes and their leaves. Not unlike, many other vegetables and herbs I discovered that radishes have been used in traditional Oriental medicine for centuries.

Radishes have been used to help remove hardened accumulations in the intestines as well as reduce phlegm.

Radishes contain xylogen, which helps in breaking down cancerous cells.

And yes, radish leaves are edible and contain valuable nutrients including calcium, riboflavin and carotene. The leaves actually have more calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin C and protein than the radish itself.

With this fountain of new knowledge, I felt compelled to find a way to eat my radishes. A quick web search presented me with lots of radish recipes some of which I will be sampling and adapting.

One recipe that sounded interesting, and kept reappearing in various guises around the web, was for Radish Leaf Soup. The soup recipes mostly combine onions, radish leaves, potatoes, water and other seasonings. Another way I think I could eat radishes is to slice them paper thin and serve them on a baguette with goat cheese. If I discover or create a recipe that will make this so-so vegetable climb to my favorites list I will pass it on. If anyone cares to share a recipe, please email me. Thanks, gg

Friday, May 25, 2007

Garden Interrupted

I am a gardener first, not an entomologist, but the 17-year periodical cicadas, known affectionately as Brood XIII, have a way of getting your attention. Therefore, in addition to my garden stories-glories, I will be covering these winged beauties.

Chicago has gone cicada crazy--local advertisers are having cicada sales--and flying around television screens with their heads pasted to buzzing cicada bodies. Schools, the forest preserves, and towns are throwing cicada festivals, cicada eating contests and parades. Morton Arboretum is hosting cicada lectures and programs for children to build cicada toys and noise makers. The Field Museum is featuring a special exhibit on cicadas. The Lake County Forest Preserve has a Cicada Mobile which is making special appearances throughout the county.

Meanwhile residents, especially in the older tree-laden suburbs, are bracing for bug-infested cookouts and noise pollution as the sex-starved male cicadas roar as loud as a motorcycle upon reaching their 17-year climax. After the mating frenzy, residents can look forward to piles and piles of dead and smelly bugs as the little guys meet their maker.

Seventeen years is a long time, some things change, some don't. There's still a Bush in the White House and the Chicago Cubs still haven't won a World Series. Dr. Jack Kevorkian has been in and out of jail. Johnny Carson was still hosting the Tonight Show, seventeen years ago. Bill Clinton served two terms as president during the past seventeen years and may be returning to his old Pennsylvania Avenue address via Hillery in the next seventeen years.

How old will you be in seventeen years? How old were you seventeen years ago? What will you be doing? Celebrate nature, celebrate the cicada and follow their misadventures via this blog.

Come out, Come out, Wherever You Are

Today is the day I predicted that the "brood' would arrive. My digging in the yard told me that that May 22, the date prognosticated by area scientists, was too early. But our cool spring makes me wonder if even my scientific guess was jumping the proverbial gun. I hate to be wrong. So come on out little guys and girls, spread your wings, the weather's fine...and love is in the air.

If you live in any of the areas above. Watch out!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Growing Up

Garden Update: May 15, 2007

Cicadas Tunneling

Way to Grow

Yukon Gold Potatoes

Monday, May 14, 2007

CICADA UPDATE: The good, the bad and the ugly

The 17-year periodical cicadas that those of us in the northern Illinois and southwest Indiana area are awaiting are known collectively as Brood XIII. They have been underground since 1990 and will arrive by the millions very soon. The 1990 Brood XIII emerged 17 years ago on this day...May 14. Watch for their first appearance at dusk on the day when the soil temperature exceeds 64 degrees. Current perdictions are for May 22...I'm betting later...Friday, May 25...How about you?

The good...

Cicadas aerate the soil, feed predators as well as domestic animals and some humans, prune the treetops, and put nutrients into the environment.
ALS researchers believe that by studying periodic cicadas they may be able to develop ways to help ALS patients.

The bad...

Periodical cicadas can damage trees above and below ground. Damage can be especially serious on young plants (four years or younger). Susceptible trees include maple, oak, hickory, beech, ash, dogwood, hawthorn, magnolia, willow, apple, peach, cherry and pear. Flowers, vines and shrubs that could be harmed include: Rose of Sharon, rose, raspberry, grape, black-eyed Susan, hollies, spirea, rhododendron, viburnum, junipers, and arborvitae.

Prolonged feeding by nymphs on a tree's root system may reduce plant growth and fruit production.

Many people find cicadas to be a nuisance by their sheer numbers and loud piercing call.

Cicadas have fluttered into automobiles and frightened drivers, leading to traffic accidents.

Many pets like to eat cicadas and may consume so many that they become develop digestive problems.

The ugly...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Crunch Time...

If you are hoping to serve these 17-year delicacies to friends and family, be creative. The best time to eat a cicada is just after they appear above ground. They should be soft and mushy, when they come out of their skin and taste like cold, canned asparagus. Think romaine lettuce tossed with cicadas...or a grilled mix with cicadas, tomatoes, peppers and herbs. Or deep fry them, let them cool and crunch away. Yum.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Little Sprouts

The spinach, arugula and lettuce
mix sprouts are making their early May debut...they're anxiously awaiting their cousins: Carrot, pea, radish, beet and potato. Hurry up guys...we're getting hungry.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Cicada: First Sighting

They're back!

Although the 17-year periodic cicadas are not suppose to emerge in mass in northern Illinois until late May 2007 when the soil temperature reaches approximately 65 degrees this little guy had other ideas--hopefully he finds a mate.

According to entomologists Monte Lloyd and Henry Dybas of the Field Museum in Chicago, northern Illinois is about to experience the largest invasion of cicadas anywhere in the world

These love-bugs only exist to find a mate, lay their eggs and burrough underground for almost a generation. You'll recognize them by their translucent brown and black top with lighter reddish brown patterns at the wing bases. Their most outstanding feature is their compound eyes--red with orange major veins.

With as many as 12 million cicadas per acre counted in highly wooded areas and about 133,000 per acre in suburban yards, cicadas can be annoying. However they won't hurt you or your garden. So enjoy these mini miracles of nature because after this bug blast they won't be back for another 17 years.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Day 3...Mission Accomplished

My cool weather garden is up and running.
  1. Radishes
  2. Carrots, Lake Valley Organics, Danvers Half-long
  3. Spinach
  4. Arugula
  5. Lettuce mix
  6. Peas, Oregon sugar pod
Grow, grow, grow...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Day two...halfway home

My deadline:
Have my garden up and running for cool weather produce by tomorrow.

The plan:

Construct two 6' x 8' x 11" raised gardens and fill with an organic soil mix. Buy the best organic soil mix available and have it delivered.

On Schedule:

Raised garden materials in yard.
Organic soil delivered.

I bought the cedar for the raised garden at a local hardware store where I also was able to find someone who could help me construct it by tomorrow. I brought the cedar home in my car so I could have it today.

For the soil mix, I contacted located in nearby Lake Bluff. I talked to Mike Lake and told him what I was doing. He recommended eight yards of an organic soil mix made up of one third top soil, one third compost, and one third sand. He was very helpful and even though their delivery schedule was full he managed to meet my personal deadline.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Day One...tick, tick, tick

The botanical clock is ticking. The potato seeds need 105 days to mature. The sugar pod peas take 68 days of "cool" weather before harvest. The lettuce will bolt in the summer sun if I can't plant it now. I'm on deadline...but I forgot to plan ahead. Somehow my glorious garden from 2006 has turned into a mass of clay, stones and weeds.

I am learning the garden has a rhythm of its own. In my real life working in broadcast and newspapers, I'm used to meeting deadlines in minutes. This garden thing takes time and patience...not my strong suits.

I surf the web lusting after pictures of bountiful gardens dressed in the perfect little black soil mix and surrounded by handsome red cedar sides. I want what they've got...and I want it now.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Come Back Kids

True survivors...the poor daffodils that were barely hanging on only a few days ago have returned in all their spring glory. Need I say it's spring in Chicago.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

April in Chicago

There's April in Paris and then there's April in Chicago. Ahh...Spring...the Cubs game is canceled...the power is out...the commutes are tripled...the snow plows are back...the lawn mowers are silenced...and the snow continues to fall. Whatever is a Garden Goddess to do?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Where is Spring?

The calendar says April 10. The thermometer says 27 degrees. The bright green grass is struggling under an icy white frosting. The daffodil heads are drooping or worse, the magnolia blossoms have turned black and the ground is too hard to even turn. The weather prognosticators are calling for measurable snow later this week. All this while the seventeen-year cicadas are laying in wait. Ahh...the summer of 2007 looks like it will be providing some interesting challenges.