Sometimes I do some nutty things. I can be impulsive, free spirited and completely off the wall. Sometimes – OK, often – these things turn into the most wonderful situations. Last week, after a great AIWF wine tasting event at The Elysian Hotel, I logged onto Twitter. I discover the most fascinating things on twitter – cool events, the latest food news and scoop, great blog updates, breaking news. I realize it’s not for everyone but I find it most interesting. Pick a favorite topic and I bet there are folks with things to say about it – famous people, regular people, writers, pals – all with 140 characters to say something interesting. Some are better at it than others. In fact, I wrote about Rick Bayless’ recipe tweets on a previous post. Fascinating.
So that evening, I quickly zoomed in on the following from my twitter pal Joanna at My Vegetable Blog:
Hmmmm … well now what was this? I quickly clicked on the link and discovered The Peterson Garden Project. It was the start of a Victory Garden right here in Chicago! For 45 bucks, I could get my very own 26 square foot plot to do with as I wished. How fantastic! I clicked and read, clicked and read. The more I saw, the more drawn in I became. I had visions of becoming my very own Martha Stewart. Self sufficient, growing my own food – the ultimate urban gardener. I am woman, hear me roar. I could even get a cute hat.
Now let’s get this straight – I love my little city apartment. It’s bright and sunny, near major transportation, great restaurants and 782 steps to the Wrigley Field Bleacher Gate. You can’t beat that. Every year, I grow a nice variety of herbs on my sunny back porch sometimes from seeds but lately, more likely from plants I pick up at The Green City Market. Over the years, I’ve tried a few more substantial things like tomatoes, lettuce and strawberries but without much success. I needed more space, more light, more patience. I always thought, someday I’ll have a garden. Someday, when I grow up and get a house in the suburbs. Well, sure. That isn’t happening anytime soon.
So reading about this garden project, I started to get really excited. The things I could grow! Tomatoes of all kinds and colors. That Tuscan kale I adore. Crazy multi-hued beets. And those French melons that send me over the moon. Wow! While I’m at it, what about lettuces, sweet fat carrots, pak choi and peppers?
And where the hell was this garden anyway? Oh who cares! I have a car. I have two bikes. Talk about reducing my carbon footprint – biking to grown my own food! (Too much? Probably.) Let’s do it! (Did I mention the wine?) Within seconds, I was the proud owner of 26 square feet of dirt, somewhere up north and the 6th participant in the project. Oh damn you internet. You make it all too easy.
When I woke up in the morning (with the slightest whisper of a headache) I was still pretty excited about the whole thing. I started fiddling with an online program that helps you plan out your garden and look at some seeds. I quickly realized that I was way behind the 8 ball. Most of these seeds should have been started two months ago. CRAP. Oh well, there’s always plant sales. I bought some seeds anyway because I couldn’t resist, mainly stuff that could sow directly into the soil like lettuce, radishes, beets and fall vegetables like kale and chard and a bunch of sweet onion bulbs. I confess – I did buy a couple packets of heirloom tomatoes too. Who can resist?!? Not sure those will come up in time but we’ll give ‘em a whirl anyway.
The thing is, I love farmers markets. I love shopping them. I love talking to the farmers. I love cooking with my finds. But the thought of growing stuff myself has me absolutely skipping about. I have little to no gardening experience but a whole bunch of enthusiastic supporters and enough energy myself to pull this off. This ought to be a helluva experiment!
If you’re in the Chicago area, consider joining The Peterson Garden Project. There are still plots available and lots of enthusiastic support. If you’re experienced, that’s fantastic and if you’re as clueless as I am, perfect! We’ll muddle through it all together.
STRESS BAKING THERAPY FACTOR: ENORMOUS! OK, it’s not baking but it will be, eventually. There’s something extremely therapeutic about mucking around in the dirt, growing your own food. I cannot wait. To think of the things I’ll make sends me into a happy frenzy. Yes, I’m a big goof.