Transitioning the Garden

Purple cabbage and Mantilla lettuce.  Both will be harvested in the coming weeks and replaced with carrot seed.

Purple cabbage and Mantilla lettuce.  Both will be harvested in the coming weeks and replaced with carrot seed.

As we approach the July 4th holiday, it is a good time to evaluate the vegetable garden and see which vegetables are still performing at their best and which are ready to be pulled.  At this time, spring crops are producing abundantly while summer crops are just starting to take off.  It is important to continually harvest to keep plants producing.  Peas are enjoying the cool, spring-like weather and continue to produce as long as they are picked regularly.  The outside leaves of chard should be harvested often to keep new leaves growing.  Broccoli will continue to send up small side shoots if they are picked before flowering.  

Spring beets.

Spring beets.

If a crop is no longer producing as well as it was, it is best to make room for either a fresh planting or allow summer vegetables to grow in.  As lettuce bolts or becomes leggy, pull it out and replace it with a planting of beet or carrot seed.  If the arugula has become too tough or spicy, it can be pulled and a new round planted in its place.  Taking the time to freshen up the garden now will keep your vegetable plants healthy and productive as we move into the hot, summer months.

Spring Vegetable Planting

The soil temperatures have warmed up and we are busy planting our spring vegetable beds.  Spring planting can extend the vegetable growing season by over a month in the Chicago area.  While the weather is still too unreliable for crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and cucumbers, it is a perfect time for vegetables that perform best in the cool weather.  Our gardens are being planted with radish, lettuce, spinach, arugula, chard, kale, carrot, bok choi, and pea seeds.  We are also planting broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, leek, and kohlrabi transplants, as well as onion sets. 

Many of these crops will be ready to harvest soon after warm season vegetables are planted in the garden.  Planting a cool season crop to be replaced by a warm season crop is a good way to maximize space in the garden.  Some of our favorite space-saving techniques are to plant onions between pepper plants, arugula beneath tomato plants, lettuce between broccoli, and beets in front of a pea trellis. 

A Year at Logic...

Please Note: Not every service described here is part of each Customer's contract. This just gives an overview of many of our available services and what we spend our time doing throughout the season. If you have questions about any of the services or what is included in your contract, please let us know!

April

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Though Spring may have officially arrived several weeks ago in March, April is the time when the birds really start chirping and spring colors begin to come alive! It also marks the usual starting point for us.

Spring Cleanups and our First Round of Fertilization will begin. An email will be sent out to give everyone an idea of when to expect us. We will have visited most of our customers by the middle of the month.

For customers who are on our Compost Program, we will evaluate and harvest your Compost Bin with the material that is ready and rebuild your pile with the unfinished material so that new material can be added throughout the season. The harvested material will be put on your vegetable garden, perennial bed or other area to give the plant material a great start! We have a recommended Compost Bin Set-Up and are here to help customers who want to start composting! 

Depending on the weather and soil temperature we will start Spot Seeding and doing lawn Renovation and Repair projects toward the end of the month, but often not until the first part of May. We don’t want heavy spring rains to wash away seed before the soil temperature has warmed enough for the seed to germinate.

Customers who we do Seasonal Pot Installations for will see their first plants installed this month.

We’ll also be inspecting plant material on our customer's property and communicate  about additional tasks that may need to be done.

May

By the beginning of May we are in full swing! Weekly Mowing has begun and will continue through October.

For customers on our Garden Bed Maintenance Program, we will make a first visit. Pruning of spring flowering Trees and Shrubs will be done at the appropriate time.

We will begin Garden Installations that have been designed over the winter as well as start working with customers and our Independent Designers on new projects.

We will continue to install new Raised Vegetable Gardens as well as prep existing ones for the season with Certified Organic Compost.

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Mulch Madness will be in full swing with lots and lots of yards of nutrient rich Leaf Mulch being installed.  We love Leaf Mulch and your plants and soil will love it too!

We will be applying our Natural and Targeted Weed Control for customers who have that as part of their Organic Lawn Care Program.  You will always know we have applied something to your lawn (even Organic Products) by a flag and an information sheet left at your door.  What we and our customers care about most is a safe healthy environment for our kids, pets and community.  Call or e-mail us to learn more about these options.

Summer Containers will be planted to enjoy all summer!  Pictured below is a bath tub pot we have at our shop.

June-July

In early June we will still be doing some seeding, pruning and garden installations. As the summer heat hits, we will give  watering information and tips to help customers maintain their lawns and landscapes. 

Round Two of the Fertilization Program will be finishing up and Round Three  will begin.  We will begin to put down our Organic Preventative Grub Control as well as monitor for other insects and disease and communicate any actions that might need to be taken. 

The week after the fourth of July, our customers on our Bi-Weekly Maintenance Program will begin their bi-weekly schedule for the rest of the season.

August

Believe it or not August is the start of fall in the Lawn Care World! Jobs such as Aeration, Dethatching and Seeding will begin sometime this month depending on the weather. We will continue to do all these tasks through the first part of October.  Now is the best time to be choosing a lawn care company, because what you do now sets you up for success next Spring.  Tell your friends about Logic or if you are not a customer yet give us a call! 

September

Round Four Fertilization will go down in September.

The Fall Container Plantings will happen this month.

October

Leaves, Leaves and more Leaves! October will be about managing leaves on our customers properties as they fall. We will mulch leaves as much as possible back into the lawn and also back into the garden beds.

We will be applying our Natural and Targeted Weed Control for customers who have that as part of their Organic Lawn Care Program.  You will always know we have applied something to your lawn (even Organic Products) by a flag and an information sheet left at your door. 

November

Thought the end is near, we will be busy all month doing the final Fall Cleanups and Leaf Debris Management as well as applying the Final Fertilization Application (by the way one of the most important of the year).  Most years we are done by Thanksgiving, but there have been years we have been working into December! It all depends on when the leaves fall and we’ll work as long as it takes it get everything done!

Winter Containers will be done this month as well!

January-March

Most years, it’s still cold outside and much of what we can do to our yards and garden is plan for the coming season! But this is the perfect time to Dormant Prune many deciduous trees and shrubs. Its the best time to better see the structure of the plant while they are still dormant in the winter or early spring.

We are also watching the weather closely to see when we can get started for the season. Because every year is different, our start date can vary as well!

See you in the Spring again!

Should I amend the soil in my vegetable beds?

With spring planting just a few weeks away, this is a good time prepare and amend the soil in your vegetable beds.  Soil becomes compacted over the winter and will appear low in raised beds or in the garden.  It is a good idea to use a garden hoe to fluff the soil and remove any roots that may remain from last year’s growing season.   

Amending your soil now will produce healthier plants and ultimately a better harvest later.  Several inches of compost should be added and mixed into the soil.  Vegetables are heavy feeders and deplete the soil of nutrients, therefore it is important to replenish the soil at the start of the season.  Compost contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur and micronutrients—all vital to plant growth and vegetable production.  At Logic, we use a certified organic compost called Purple Cow: http://www.purplecoworganics.com/  

We are happy to help amend your beds, or if you’d like to do it yourself, we sell bags of Purple Compost for your use.

 

 

Choosing Crops for our Climate

A quick glance through a seed catalog may seem overwhelming.  In the 'Carrot' section alone, you may find eight different varieties.  While it can be fun, it can also be a daunting task choosing which vegetable varieties to grow.   

Black Beauty eggplant, a reliable producer in 70-75 days

Black Beauty eggplant, a reliable producer in 70-75 days

One of the first steps is to know our Chicago climate.  Our growing season runs from approximately early April through mid-November.  Warm weather crops can be planted mid-late May and, depending on the crop, usually stop producing by mid-October.  Why is this important?  Seed catalogs and packets list the number of days until harvest.  In our shorter Chicago season, it is often helpful to look for crops with a shorter number of days to harvest.  Brandywine tomatoes are a large, delicious variety of tomato, but are also one of the later varieties to mature (about 85 days from transplant).  Not to say they aren’t worth growing.  It is helpful to plant them with shorter season varieties such as Early Girl or a cherry tomato such as Sungold, which mature around 60-70 days.  That provides tomatoes two weeks early than if growing Brandywine alone.  And by July, who isn't ready for those first sweet fruits of summer?

If you have any questions, we can help guide you through which crops grow well in the Chicago area, which varieties are more productive than others, and the subtle differences in taste.  We offer a wide selection of crops and vegetable varieties and are happy to provide you with a crop list and discuss options with you.

This year, we are excited to try Silvery Fir Tree tomatoes (a compact tomato perfect for growing in containers) and Red Cored Chantenay carrots (reportedly very tasty and stores well).

Designing a Vegetable Garden

Home vegetable gardens have been making a comeback.  The reasons are numerous—healthy food, time spent outdoors, reducing your “carbon footprint.”  More than that, growing your own food can fill you with a sense of pride.  Dinner guests often perk up when they hear the vegetables they are eating came from the backyard.  Any vegetable you see may make you think, “Could I grow that?” and you embrace the challenge.  You smile after a friend looks at your garden filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and flowers and says, “I want a garden like that!”

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If you have a spot in your yard that receives at least six hours of sun a day, you can grow food.  Most vegetable gardens start with a well-designed fence.  Others rely on raised beds to keep critters out.  A well-tended vegetable patch can even be incorporated into a front yard design.  A vegetable garden can be a beautiful part of the home landscape as well as functional.

Our desire is to help you create a vegetable garden that fits your vision.  We can help you choose and build a fence, install raised beds, and put in walkways.  Our vegetable gardens are designed around careful site analysis and detailed conversations with you.   We want your garden to be successful and because of that, we offer a wide range of options such as providing you with a crop list, planting with you, garden coaching, and weekly garden visits.  If you have questions about growing your own food this season, let us know!

Why do I vegetable garden?

It is 12 degrees outside and my garden is invisible under the ice and snow.  It is that time of year, late February, when in Chicago we all begin to question, “Just why is it we live here again?”  As a gardener, February is an especially anxious time.  I spent January combing seed catalogs and circling which new crops I want to try this year.  By early February, my seed orders were submitted and I’d sketched a crop layout for this season.  By late February, I am ready to get digging again, but I live in Chicago and Mother Nature and I have differing opinions.   

So why is it I am so anxious to start in the vegetable garden again?  Many reasons I suppose.  One is the quiet time it allows me.  With three small children, a husband, dog, and a goldfish, it seems to be the one place where I am left alone to just work.  And I enjoy the work.  I find it inspiring to see the tiny plants sprout, grow, and eventually tumble out of their beds as I scrub dirt from my arms.  There is a happy tired that comes from harvesting a basket of backyard produce.  And it is satisfying to nurture an idea into reality, a seed into food.

When we bought our Evanston home two years ago, I was excited to plant flowers throughout the yard and enjoy the myriad of colors all summer long.  But for me, it has always been even more enjoyable to relax in the garden if I am also eating a white cucumber or a handful of spicy arugula I’ve just picked.   And if I can convince my friends or family to pick our homegrown fruits and vegetables and taste with me, well, that’s even better.   

I enjoy the fact that in a life of computers, TV, digital music, and tablets, the vegetable garden is a place that hasn’t changed much since I worked beside my grandfather as a little girl.  It brings back memories of the dozens of tomatoes ripening on my grandparents’ kitchen shelves, picking raspberries with my brothers, and climbing our grandfather’s plum tree.  Memories I hope I can create for my own children.

My garden is about creating something bountiful, when in late February that seems just about impossible.  It is about putting a pencil to paper and imagining a harvest.  It is about getting dirty, but reaping the delicious benefits.  It is about feeding my family in what I believe is the healthiest way possible.   

And ultimately, isn’t it February’s cabin fever that makes us Chicagoans savor those first warm days, breath deep, and dig back in?