Tulip Tree: Urban Homestead in Central Illinois

first fruits of the harvest
July 26, 2009, 8:18 pm
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july 26-a


June 7, 2009, 5:34 pm
Filed under: garden, joi de vivre, locavore | Tags: ,

The first harvest of strawberries has arrived.

the first wild straberry harvest

the first wild strawberry harvest

Also pictured is my “berry saver” storage bowl. It was a bargain bin purchase for $4 and does a pretty good job of keeping berries fresh(er). It’s specially designed to keep the contents dry, elevated, and with venting to release ethylene gas produced during ripening. Ethylene also accelerates ripening.
I’m going to make “freezer jam” with crushed berries, lemon juice and a very small amount of sugar as  the strawberry fountain will (hopefully!) produce too many for my own consumption of fresh berries.

June 6, 2009, 6:31 pm
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My garden beds are almost done. Volunteer plants discovered today: 4 tomatoes, broccoli, kale, and, of course, plenty of runner mints.

Scored from Freecycle: Marjoram, wild strawberries, and raspberry canes.

The beans are up, but not yet winding around the new bamboo trellises.

new bamboo supports for the beans and peas

new bamboo supports for the beans and peas

strawberry fountain
May 30, 2009, 10:37 pm
Filed under: garden, locavore | Tags: ,

My DIY strawberry fountain:

strawberry fountain

strawberry fountain


You need several clay pots and a sturdy stake. Assemble  as above.  I use a second stake behind to add stability. Fill with rocks/compost/soil. Transplant strawberry plants. Water as needed. No water is wasted as the top pot drains into the next pot down.

This also allows strawberries to dangle elimnating the need to stake/string the plants. It also adds a barrier to the creepy-crawlies that love strawberry plants.

ugly is the new beautiful
May 25, 2009, 2:12 am
Filed under: garden, sustainability | Tags: ,

One thing that you realize when you work in your garden is that it really doesn’t matter how eye-appealing your garden looks. Productive is productive. Fertile is fertile. The detritus that surrounds or is in between the plants doesn’t really matter. Rocks, dried roots, sticks, cut grass or old leaf matter may be unsightly, but they have a function and should be treasured for their water holding ability and soil erosion control. Thye good stuff – the rich soil and compost is below the surface where it does the most good. Soil as a top layer dries out and blows away.

Borders are another thing that I used to worry about, but frankly, I realized I don’t have time or the money to build a permanent stone or wood wall around my garden. It also strikes me as inflexible if I want to move or relocate beds. Old boards held upright by sticks may not make it into Home & Garden magazine, but it will hold back your moist, rich earth from running into the lawn during a heavy downpour.

Under the Tulip Tree, I put my effort into productive things and I don’t worry what visitors will think. Once the garden is producing, no one will notice the borders or edges, they will only see the beautiful red, yellow and green fruits and flowering herbs. Trust me.

garden update & seed cost
May 10, 2009, 11:22 pm
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The seedlings are doing well with sun and water. I expect to be able to transplant most of them next weekend.

The total cost for seeds and supplies for this years garden is around $40.

I save pots and trays from year to year. The strawberry fountain will cost around $20 to make for clay planters mostly.

Tomatoes & cabbage are ready for transplant outside.


winter carrots
May 7, 2009, 1:17 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

In preparing the beds for new plants, I dug up some green carrot tops to discover my beautiful winter carrots below.