Urban Gardening

31 May

Jon and I live in a cave garden unit. For those who reside in suburbia or beyond, or those who haven’t had the misfortune of navigating Craigslist’s “for rent” listings, this means that we live in a basement unit. A dungeon.  It is dark as hell, moderately cool all year round, and  an excellent place to have a hangover. By Chicago standards, it is also cheap as chips.

The lack of sunshine or any sort of breeze is what drives me to stash cash into a condo savings account every month. Oh, there’s also no dishwasher, washer, or dryer, but now it just sound like I’m whining, so I’ll digress.

The cave has one saving grace, and when I saw it I was sold on the apartment. The concrete backyard is completely covered over with raised soil beds, and every year my landlord plants a variety of produce that could rival a small grocery store. When I viewed the apartment in August of 2010, I was amazed and taken with the variety he had reaped; huge cucumbers and zucchini, with blossoms that begged to be stuffed and fried, several kinds of tomatoes,  cilantro and mint bunches that had grown into bushes, rows of beets, and more. I was surprised last year to stumble across a watermelon, nearly a foot-and-a-half across, that had been hiding in plain sight for months as it grew.  Urban jungle. When he told me that I could take from the bounty whenever I liked, I agreed to sign a lease on the apartment.

There’s already lots of great stuff coming up, including my most favorite fruit, ever.

Backyard Strawberries

Fresh strawberries for the picking? Seriously, it doesn’t get any better than that.

  

Carrots and beets are growing under there.

 

 This will be my second summer (and maybe my last summer?) on Rice Street, and both summers I have been given a small patch of land to plant on. I’d never grown anything from seed before. My gardening efforts focused on trying to keep herb cuttings from kicking the bucket. It’s pretty rewarding to plant a seed, wait a while, water a little, and have it turn into dinner. 4 months of fresh food makes living in a cave year round worth it. My most anticipated crop? Broccolini. I’ll keep you posted as to how it comes up.

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