Monday, August 17, 2015

Summer sizzle

The garden is looking so lush and green this summer! Thanks to everyone who has pitched in to keep the walkways and public areas clean and weed-free.

Five gardeners showed up to our latest monthly workday, which was up in the 90s and quite humid… so we mostly focused on the outside, public areas and tried not to pass out from heat exhaustion (hooray for cheap lemonade!). My husband Bill weed-whacked the whole alley; I picked up trash and weeded the public boxes; Jill swept the whole sidewalk and cleared the fence line, and then Kit and Joe showed up in time to help dig up our first harvest of potatoes in our public boxes.

Here's what the box looked like before harvest.
The plants got pounded pretty hard from the hailstorm a couple weeks back.

About half of the harvest. Most of the taties were just under the surface and easy to find.

Kit and Joe dig for carbohydrate gold!

Afterwards, we covered them up with a thin layer of soil,
and left a few little digger tools in the box for
kids to try their hand at the harvest.
The sign encourages passerby to help themselves.

Isn't this a great view?! One of our gardeners,
John, bought the condo that overlooks
the garden, and kindly allowed me
to get this shot of all our public boxes.
 We dug up probably over a hundred potatoes, and each of us chose a few to bring home with us. Then we covered them up again to protect them from the sun and left them for our neighbors to dig.
Mark Bee, one of our beekeepers, arrived for our bee workshop.

The "arts and crafts" portion of the presentation.
Jill is tucking popsicle sticks in the
groove of the honey frame, to encourage
the bees to build up-and-down combs. 

Mark brought along a list of flowers and
herbs that we can plant to help our bees.
I was happy to see that we already
have many of these flourishing in our garden.

Mark had a smoker that he
used to help keep the bees calm.

First, he removed the top lid of the hive.

You can see the bees have been building honeycomb
all over the inside of their hive, including the lid!

He showed us several of the frames, filled
entirely with comb, honey, and hundreds of bees. 

Joe was the only one of us brave enough to get
close to the hive and taste some of the honey.
He said it was really good!

Another frame, this time from the "super" … an extra
level added to the hive about two months ago.

Mark rebuilds the hive, adding a second
large box and putting the super above.
He also added a tray with water up top,
both to provide hydration to the bees
and to help keep the hive cool.

The hive, rebuilt with the new
additions and covered up again. 

 Mark talked about some bee biology, history, and care, and very patiently answered all our questions. Then he took apart and rebuilt the hive with two extra levels. The bees hummed and circled curiously, but nobody got stung. It was so encouraging to see the frames filled with all the comb and honey that our bees have made from the the flowers in our garden!

To make sure the bees have the best chance of surviving our typically harsh winter, there won't be a honey harvest this year… but we all agreed the bees have certainly earned their keep with all their efforts to pollinate our plots.

Many thanks to the gardeners who showed up to help out this month, and to Mark Bee for his work with our hive.

The next workday will be Saturday, September 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Our noon workshop will be on vermiculture led by gardener Megan Wentz. Learn how to create rich and valuable compost through the winter in your own kitchen, with the help of worms!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

2016 Summer Garden Update

Greetings, gardeners… (and friends of the garden!)

Wow, the garden is looking fantastic these days, thanks to all the efforts of our gardeners, their families, and the community volunteers that have stepped forward to help us out. We have had several new projects take off, and I thought it would be a good time to let you all know how we are doing organizationally.

Current Projects

Parkway garden companion planting demonstration bed

The biggest change in the garden this year is the seven boxes along the north edge of the garden, our new public parkway garden.

Parkway garden herb bed
The Howard Area Community Center Youth Group has been instrumental in the success of this space, and now we have lots of vegetables and herbs that the public are encouraged to sample and harvest for their own use.

Parkway garden pollinator box
It's been so amazing, watching this project grow from a crazy random idea, to getting the boxes donated from the Howard Area Theater Garden, to winning the Rogers Park Garden Group parkway grant, to working with the youth group to plan and plant the boxes, to seeing our neighbors stop and enjoy the flowers and greenery.

Many thanks to Abby Falck, who donated and installed the dog waste bag dispenser on the west end of the north parkway, and also the flowers on the northeast corner. Thanks also to Chester Kos, who has been responsible for the care of all the lawn on the parkway to the west of the garden.

We now have three plots that are being shared by one of our gardeners and a volunteer. So far, this pairing has allowed gardeners who would have had to give up their plots due to health reasons to stay in our garden with a little help from the volunteer. If you are having trouble, you don't have to give up your garden! Contact the garden coordinator and let us know, so you can get a helping hand and stay involved.

The bees are busy and happy! One of our beekeepers, Mark Bee, will present a workshop about our bees during our August workday. Curious about the honey? Wondering why we have a hive? Worried about stings? Come join us and get some answers!


We have a workday coming up this Saturday, July 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We will be talking about edible urban foraging during the workshop. Our next workdays are August 15 (bees), September 19 (vermiculture), October 24 (closing workday). Come on by, have a snack and a chat, and lend a hand!

Please remember: it's mosquito season, and West Nile virus has been detected in Cook County mosquitos. We cannot have ANY standing water in the garden, so please make sure buckets and such are turned upside down when you're not using them.

Each gardener is responsible for clearing the weeds along any outer edges of their plot, even if it borders the alley or sidewalk. Please keep on top of this so it doesn't get out of hand!

Looking Ahead

Projects for this fall include rebuilding the compost area, and erecting a tool/storage shed. We are also trying to find a good source of organic material for us to dig into our gardens this fall, so it can rot over the whole wintertime and become wonderful composted soil for us next spring. More details soon, stay tuned!

We have been talking about putting in a fire pit in the sitting garden along the south edge of the garden. Most folks seem to like the idea, but we have to do it in a responsible way. Also, the possibility of cooking on the fire was raised; some vegetarian folks might be upset having the smell of meat cooking close to their plots. Any input?

Another change that is being discussed is the implementation of residency requirements. Several of our gardeners have moved far from our immediate area, and then they are unable to visit their plot regularly; the neglected plot becomes weedy and unkempt. Is it fair to require gardeners to live within the Howard Area? If so, what should our boundaries be? (One suggestion was the lake, Juneway, Ridge, and Touhy.) What do you think?

Some gardeners have mentioned that they have a lot of extra produce and that they are willing to give it away. Would our gardeners be interested in a central place where they could swap produce? Should we set up a produce-for-donation stand for neighbors as a fundraiser for the garden? Would you be willing to donate extra produce to the local food pantry? Please let us know!


Your feedback on any or all of these ideas is VERY welcome! The garden coordinator (Katje) has set up a mailbox next the gate of her plot so you can leave a note with a comment, idea, complaint, congrats, or anything else (there should be paper and pen inside). Her plot is the one in the middle of the north edge, with the 8-foot-tall stump in it. The Leadership Team needs to hear from you, so please let us know what you think!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Opening Day 2015 Celebration

Welcome sign!
(Katje is learning calligraphy, can you tell?)
The 2015 growing season of the Howard Area Community Garden officially opened today! The weather report gave a dreary forecast of rain, though, which would have made things like handing out papers and seed swapping difficult. Fortunately, the Jewel at Howard and Clark has a FREE public meeting room that was open, and they let us use it on very short notice (thank you, Jewel!).

Katje, the garden coordinator, got there early to set up, and was met by new gardener Arianna, who jumped right in to help out. Once the seeds and snacks were ready, we started getting more members joining us.

Thirteen gardeners in all came to celebrate our opening day… a wonderful turnout considering the weather! It was great to catch up with friends, hear about garden plans, meet some of our newest gardeners, discuss HACG history… four hours flew by.

Of course, we did have a little business to attend to. The new plot maps with a list of all our gardeners and phone numbers was distributed (if you didn't get one, email Katje at to have one mailed or emailed to you). The 2015 plot fees were collected, along with the gardener contracts (you'll only have to sign this once; it signifies that you've read our rules and agree to abide by them).

If you haven't yet paid your plot fee, please either pay using the PayPal button to the right of this post (and then turn in your contract when you see Katje or Gina), OR mail it in with your contract (the address is to the right, as well). Your fee MUST be paid by May 1 to keep your plot! However, nobody will be turned away due to lack of funds… if you can't pay right now, please contact Katje and let her know your situation.

New gardener Arianna helped sort the seed display.
Most of the seeds were taken home by the attendees, but don't worry if you still need some: we have another generous donor who is sending a few hundred more packets to us in the next few days. If you took seeds and do not use all of them, PLEASE reseal the packet and pass them on to other gardeners!

We talked a bit about the new raised beds along the north edge of the garden. Last month, Bob Fuller from the Howard Theater Community Garden told Katje that their garden was going to be shut down due to development, and that the gardeners were understandably upset at the prospect of their garden beds being thrown into dumpsters. We hatched a plan to bring some of those beds to our garden. A college student program that sends volunteers to work for a day of service provided us with about 15 young, eager helpers, and we had two trucks to help with the hauling. After a full day of labor by the volunteers, gardeners from both gardens, friends and family, and a contingent from LEEDA services, we had seven new boxes installed and filled (a few extra boards were available to our gardeners as well, and some folks built more raised beds in their plots).
Snacks, seeds, and socializing.

The current plan is to fill the new boxes with flowers, herbs, and vegetables that are bite-sized and easy to sample, for all of the North of Howard community to enjoy. Remember those delicious little Mexican cucumber-melons that Lupe brought to one of our meetings last year? We'll be growing those up some sunflower stalks. Cherry tomatoes, peppers, potatoes… lots of fun veggies are going in! If you're interested in helping out with this project, please contact Katje.

We also discussed priorities and how to spend some gift cards that have been kindly donated to the garden (from Gethsemane, Chalet, and Home Depot). The biggest need was some kind of tool shed or storage unit, so we can keep garden tools in an accessible but safe space (we also need some garden tools!). Another idea was to install a splitter on the hydrant, so that we can have two hoses available at the same time. And it is clear that we need a source of good compost, so gardeners can build up their soil… since we are an organic garden, we need to constantly replenish the minerals we deplete. The very best way to do that is to mix in good compost and dirt into our plots on a yearly basis, but most of us don't have trucks to haul it in. We will find some and get it delivered to the garden, so we all can beef up our plots. Stay tuned for more info!

Other ideas included adding a fire pit to the seating area on the south side of the garden, building a lending library, adding a Little Free Library, adding another water source, figuring out ways to keep track of tools with a checkout system, doing soil testing, and finding a volunteer Spanish interpreter.

Gina Carpenter answers questions about organic gardening.
Gina gave a presentation on organic gardening, and fielded questions about synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Remember: our garden is organic, which means you cannot use chemicals in your garden! It kills the vital bacteria and organisms that keep our garden and the food we grow healthy and clean. While those chemicals can kill weeds you don't want or make your tomatoes grow faster, the soil pays by being depleted and sterilized… you might get good results now, but years down the road, the garden will be in much worse shape. If you are unclear on how to garden organically, PLEASE reach out to the garden coordinator or Gina, and we will hook you up with some great resources on how to do it!

Neighbor Space, the organization that owns our property, will be adding its 100th garden to their group this year. In order to celebrate this milestone, Neighbor Space is doing a photo documentary on six of their gardens, sending out a photographer to visit these gardens in the spring, summer, and fall. Guess what? Howard Area Community Garden was selected as one of these six gardens! We're not sure why, but we are honored that Neighbor Space chose us, and are looking forward to seeing what comes of this project.

Katje has been busy with some other things, too. She writes thank-you notes to all our kind donors, attends Neighbor Space and Chicago Community Garden Association meetings, and is working with Anthony Boatman of the Genesis Project at A Just Harvest to create the Howard Urban Garden Group (so local gardens can band together to share resources, purchasing power, volunteers, seeds, etc.).

At this point, we are not 100% certain if we will be doing rototilling this weekend. Stay tuned to the Facebook page, or send an email, to stay in the loop.

Thank you to everyone who showed up today! It's too bad that we couldn't play in our gardens today, but mild weather is coming soon. It looks like we'll be up in the 70s next weekend… see you at the garden!

Welcome to our bees!

The Howard Area Community Garden has officially joined forces with local apiarists Ryan Lee, Mark Bee, and Rosemary Sophia Limoncello to help rebuild dwindling bee populations and create better opportunities for healthy pollination in our own garden by installing our first ever beehive!

The funding for the hive was generously donated by Amanda Johnson via Ryan Lee's Kickstarter project, Rivendell Apiaries. Another hive was also donated in our name by Cathy Cagle, but it turns out that it wasn't a good fit for our space (Ryan will find it a good home, though!). Ryan came to the garden last fall to choose a good spot for the beehive to be placed, but before the season began, he was invited to take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by becoming an intern at the Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary in Vermont for a year. So he passed the bee baton to his friend Mark, who brought Rosemary on board as well.

Mark contacted us to let us know our bees had arrived (most of them were from California, but we have a queen from Hawaii!), and arranged to install the hive and bees on a chilly morning… the cold snap wasn't great for the bees, but it would have been worse to leave them in their tiny wooden travel box. We received three pounds of bees, which amounts to about 1,000 individuals. That's a LOT of bees!

Mark sprayed the 10 panels inside the brand new wooden hive with sugar water to help the bees get settled. Rosemary lit a small smoker filled with local grass, which is another way for the bees to learn the scent and figure out that this was their new home.

There is a bottle of sugar water hung onto the hive that the bees will survive on until the flowers open later this spring. They survived the plunging temperatures that hit two nights in a row after their arrival. So far, they seem to be thriving!

The bees are located in Plot 14 with Megan Wentz, a new gardener who volunteered to share her space with the bees. Please do NOT go into Megan's plot without permission, but do take a moment to walk by and check out the hive. These bees are incredibly docile and gentle… during their installation, they were moved and handled and not one of the four people there were stung.

Here's a link to a set of photos documenting the hive set-up:


One other thing you can do is to plant pollinator-friendly plants and flowers alongside your vegetables. The bees will be visiting our plots to gather nectar from our flowers, and while they do that, they will be carrying pollen from flower to flower, ensuring that our harvests will be fruitful. And bonus! If all goes well, there will be a collection of honey this fall… and there should be enough that we all can have a bit to take home and enjoy!

If you have any questions or concerns about the new hive, please email, and we'll do our best to get answers quickly. Otherwise, enjoy our new garden partners, and know that we are doing a good thing for the earth and our children by growing our food organically (without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers), which will make the soil of our garden able to support life for years and years.

(If you are curious about why it is so vitally important for us to help bees, please read this article about colony collapse disorder.)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Opening Day is moving indoors!

It looks like Mother Nature is sending a good wet storm our way Saturday, which will be great for the garden... but not for a party.

So we are moving the festivities indoors!

Howard Area Community Garden
Opening Day Celebration
Community Room at Jewel-Osco
Howard and Clark
Saturday, April 25
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Please bring your signed contract and $15 annual fee, if you haven't turned them in already. (We will have extra copies of the contract on hand if you need one).

We can't rototill in the rain, but we will take signups at the Opening Day party and then Donald will do the tilling on Sunday (the rain should be gone by then). 

At noon, Gina Carpenter will present a workshop on the basics of organic gardening.

We will also have:
• Many packets of seeds to share and swap
• Snacks and drinks
• Keys for the new west gate lock
• The 2015 Plot Map and member contact info sheet
• An update on what's been happening in the garden (hint: LOTS!)
• A chance to visit with old friends and meet our new gardeners

A little rain won't stop our fun... see you on Saturday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Best Buddies: Notes on Companion Planting

Tomatoes and basil play well together in the garden as well as on bruschetta
Companion planting is the idea that certain crops can help each other by repelling pests or enriching the soil for each other. And some plants really don't play well with others. After a few years of playing around, I've noticed this concept isn't just a new-age, hippy-dippy fantasy. In fact, the practice of planting corn, beans, and squash together was developed centuries ago by Native Americans, who called them the Three Sisters… and it turns out that this particular threesome is validated by science as well as tradition.

And so I will share with you a list of companion planting ideas to try in your own garden. Not all of these are backed by research studies, though, and I can't personally vouch for every single pairing… but in my experience, mixing things up a little bit not only makes for a prettier garden, it really does help your plants grow stronger and better.

Basil gets along with everyone, but I like to mix it in with my tomato plants (as my husband said: "your one-stop bruschetta stop")

Beans like root veggies (carrots, potatoes, beets) and the brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower), but they don't like the alliums (garlic, onion, leeks).  Pole beans (a member of the aforementioned Three Sisters) like to clamber up cornstalks.

Beets like the brassicas and alliums, but not beans.

Borage is rumored to repel tomato worms.

The brassicas (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale) do not play well with strawberries. Certain flowers will help repel their pests, like calendula/marigolds (they have natural pyrethrums, which bugs hate) and nasturtiums. They like herbs too, such as chamomile, dill, mint, rosemary, sage, and thyme (which deters cabbage moths).

Carrots like onions, which repel carrot flies.

Corn likes beans and curcurbits (melons, cucumbers, and squashes).

Cucumbers like beans, corn, and sunflowers (a natural trellis!). Radishes can repel cucumber beetles. But cukes are not good around potatoes.

Eggplants, being a member of the nightshade family, like to hang out with other nightshades like peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes.

Garlic can help keep aphids away from tomatoes.

Lettuce like to live with the root veggies like carrots and radishes, as well as strawberries… but it does not like the brassicas.

Oregano deters many garden pests.

Peppers like to be around basil, carrots, parsley, and tomatoes. But they are not friends with fennel.

Potatoes like basil (which deters potato beetles), beans, and brassicas, but does not grow so well with  melons, squash, tomatoes, or sunflowers. Marigolds might help deter nematodes.

Radishes are good with cucurbits like cucumbers and melons, as well as other root crops like carrots. If you like spicy radishes, plant some chervil with them.

Rosemary like to hang out with most things, and is a good pest repellant.

Sage is another good all-around pest deterrent, especially for the brassicas and nightshades (tomatoes, peppers), but does not do well with cucumbers.

Spinach is a good neighbor with most plants, especially brassicas, nightshades, and strawberries.

Strawberries are good with beans, lettuce, and spinach, but are not friends of the brassicas.

Sunflowers like the cucurbits (cucumbers, melons) but not nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers).

Tomatoes play nicely with basil (big surprise!), brassicas, carrots, alliums, rosemary and sage, but should not be planted near potatoes.

Did I leave something out? Add your experience in the comments!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

You're Invited: Garden Opening Day Celebration!

The Howard Area Community Garden's 2015 Spring Opening Party is scheduled for Earth Day (Saturday, April 25), at 10 a.m. We will be doing some cleanup, share some snacks, give away lots of seeds, and rent a rototiller to share. 

Long-time gardener Gina Carpenter will be offering a workshop at noon on Organic Gardening Basics. (HACG is an organic garden; if you're not quite sure what gardening organically means, please do join us for this FREE class!)

Bring a snack to share, your gardening gloves and tools (we have some loaners if you don't have any), your $15 annual plot fee and gardener's contract, and a smile!

See you soon!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Proposed Garden Rules

The Leadership Team, NeighborSpace, and the gardeners who attended the potluck have all worked on updating the rules for the Howard Area Community Garden. The latest version of the proposed rules are below. Please let us know what you think!

Rules for Participation in the
Howard Area Community Garden
(revised 2/2015)

As a gardener in the Howard Area Community Garden, I agree to abide by the following rules:

1. I use this garden at the sole discretion of the Howard Area Community Garden Leadership Team. I agree to abide by its policies and practices.

2. The fee for the use of the garden is $15 per plot, per year, payable on or before May 1 of each year. There are no refunds. (Fee waivers are available in hardship cases.)

3. Gardens must be cultivated and planted before June 1 (or within two weeks of assignment, if after that date). Gardens must be cleaned and "put to bed" by Dec. 1.

4. I understand that each gardener is asked to donate labor towards the betterment of the entire garden. This service may be done during the scheduled workdays, or on my own as arranged with a member of the Leadership Team. There are many jobs to choose from, and if we all pitch in, the work will be spread out fairly and no one volunteer will get burned out.

5. I understand that the Howard Area Community Garden is an organic garden. Only organic fertilizers, compost, and manure may be used in the garden. Non-organic and other chemical fertilizers or pesticides are prohibited. Painted wood or posts are not allowed. Dyed mulch is prohibited.

6. I will keep all my plants within the limits of my garden plot and will not allow any plants to grow more than six feet high. I will do my best to keep my plot free of weeds, pests, and diseases.

7. I will keep my plot, paths, and surrounding areas clean and neat. I will put kitchen waste and plant material into the compost, and weeds/diseased plants/litter into the trash cans. Anything I bring from my home, I will take back home. I will not bring household trash and leave it at the Howard Area Community Garden.

8. Only one plot per household. If I adopt an abandoned plot during the season with permission from the Leadership Team, I understand that I must relinquish it for the following year.

9. The water hydrant is provided by NeighborSpace, the owner of the property, and is to be used ONLY for watering gardens, not to wash cars. I will conserve water and be considerate of other gardeners who are waiting for their turn. Water is turned on by NeighborSpace in mid-May, and turned off mid-November.

10. I understand that illegal plants, smoking, alcohol, illegal drug use, gambling, weapons or pets are not permitted the garden.

11. Guests and visitors may enter the garden only if I accompany them. They must follow all rules stated above. I will supervise my children at all times when they are in the garden. I understand that I am solely responsible for the behavior of my guests.

12. I will do my best to attend the regular garden member meetings, educational programs, and workdays.

13. I will not make duplicate keys of any locks at the garden, or give my key or lock combination to another person. If I lose a key, I will pay $2 for a replacement. If I am the last person to leave the garden, I will make sure all locks are secure.

14. I will never take food, plants, tools, or anything else from other gardeners’ plots. I will not take anything from the garden that is not rightfully mine.

15. If I intend to return to my plot the following year, I will notify the HACG Leadership Team by phone, email, or mail before April 1. If I do not do this, I understand the plot will be reassigned.

16. I will respect other gardeners. I will use appropriate language and refrain from discriminating against others.

17. I will work to keep the garden a happy, secure, and enjoyable place where all participants can garden and socialize peacefully in a neighborly manner.


The Howard Area Community Garden Leadership Team is the highest governing authority at the Howard Area Community Garden. I understand that breaking any of the above rules is cause for loss of my plot privileges.

Breaking Rule 10 or 14 will result in immediate loss of garden membership.

In the event of a violation of the remaining rules:

1. The violator will receive one verbal/e-mail reminder from the garden coordinator.

2. If no response or correction has been made within two weeks, the violator will receive a written notice mailed to their current address.

3. In another two weeks, if no response or correction has been made, the violator will receive a written final notification that they have forfeited their gardening privileges and plot. The plot may be reassigned and no fees will be returned.

4. The violator may be allowed to reapply for another garden plot the following year, at the discretion of the Leadership Team.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Notes from the potluck

The Howard Area Community Garden held the Annual Member Potluck/Meeting on Feb. 7, 2015, at Just Harvest on Paulina and Jonquil.

The following gardeners attended: Katje Sabin and her husband Bill Gilliland, Jill Bjork and her son, and Geraldine Williams. Robin Cline from NeighborSpace also joined us, and Anthony Boatman from Just Harvest dropped in briefly.

Besides chowing down on all the yummy food everyone brought, we discussed a few ideas for our garden.

The garden is currently full, although we haven't heard back from a few members... so we might have a couple of spaces opening up. The entire waiting list from past years has been emptied, and new applicants will go onto a new waiting list. To apply, call or email the garden for an application form (

We have seven new gardeners this year! Please welcome Emily Deja, Fagin Prak, Derek Schumacher, Derek Barton, Arianna Soloway, Anastassiya Suslik, and William Garvutt to our garden!

We are very happy to welcome back the Howard Area Community Center's youth gardeners, led by HACC's youth program director Robert Conlen and nutritionist Katherine Wong. They will work one plot and the three raised beds, as well as assisting one of our elderly gardeners with her spot.

We also have a returning gardener, Chester Kos, who built our wonderful compost bin system. Welcome back!

The Leadership Team (currently Katje Sabin and Gina Carpenter, with help from Neighborspace) has been working on updating the garden's rules. There is a new application form, and a Gardener's Contract. Every gardener will receive a copy of the updated rules, along with the 2015 calendar, contact list, and plot map, around April (once each gardener has confirmed that they are returning for the 2015 gardening season).

If you had a garden in 2014 but didn't pay your fees, please don't worry... you won't lose your spot. But if you CAN pay now, please consider doing so. Fees go towards garden repairs, improvements, equipment, and administrative costs like paper, copying and mailing. The annual fee is $15, and you can mail it to:
Howard Area Community Garden
c/o Howard Area Community Center
7648 N. Pauline St.
Chicago IL 60626
(P.S. you are also welcome to pay your 2015 fee before the May 1 deadline!)

Bartlett Tree Service, the same company that donated 12 cubic yards of mulch last fall, has also volunteered to remove the large dying elm on the north edge of the garden. When they come in, we'll have about a week's notice... and we will need help to temporarily remove some fencing so they can have proper access. That should happen some time in February or March... stay tuned!

If you need the combination for the lock on the north gate, or a key for the west gate, please email

The Spring Opening Party is scheduled for Earth Day (Saturday, April 25), at 10 a.m. We will be doing some cleanup, share some snacks, have a seed swap, and hold a quick gardeners meeting.  We may also organize a cooperative seedling order from Garden Harvest Supply (they are willing to give us wholesale prices... check out this page to start thinking about which things we'd like to order:

One of the improvements suggested was a dog poop bag dispenser... we've all noticed the GIANT turds on the devil strip, and it would sure be nice if people cleaned up after their mutts. Something like this:

Our garden has officially joined the Rogers Park Garden Group (, an organization that gives out public walkway grants each year), the Chicago Community Garden Association (we're signed up for their annual conference; would anyone like to come with me?, and we've applied for a grant from Kitchen Gardeners International ( We're looking at other grants as well. Would anyone like to help with this?

Would someone be willing to translate our proposed rules into Spanish?

We'd like to look into worm bins (vermiculture). Does anyone have experience with this?

The whole garden had a problem with tomato blight last year, a fungus that kills the healthy plant at the peak of production. We'll be looking into organic ways to get past this, but for now... just be aware that we have it in our soil right now and that we need to plan on working together to get rid of it.

Robin said that NeighborSpace might be able to help us figure out a way to set up online membership payments and donations. And she also suggested that we start up a Friends of the Garden group, for people who can't garden but want to help support our efforts. Would anyone like to work on this project?

Donald Johnson has volunteered to arrange bringing a rototiller to the garden. Stay tuned for more info, and thank you, Donald!

We had a gardener give their space to someone outside the garden without informing the Leadership Team. Please don't do this! We have an established waiting list for folks who have asked to join the garden. If you don't want your space any longer, that's not a problem... just let us know so we can give it to the next person in line. And if you know someone who wants to join the garden, please ask them to send an email to for an application so they can get in line. Right now, there's only one or two people on the waiting list, so it won't be long. And we've had a number of people who have come to garden work days even though they were still on the waiting list... sweat equity. Let's keep things fair and honest; everyone can be involved even if they don't have a plot yet!

If you have any suggestions or would like to pitch in with any of the above projects or ideas, please drop a line to Many hands make light work!

Now we just need to wait for spring...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Our annual potluck is THIS SATURDAY!

Our garden with 20 inches of snow… Hope you all are staying warm and dry!

Saturday, February 7
From noon - 3:00pm

A Just Harvest
7649 N Paulina St, Chicago, Illinois 60626

Bring something delicious to share for a potluck lunch, while we discuss our hopes and dreams for our beautiful community garden in the 2015 growing season. We will hear from our Leadership Team, and we'll have a chance to review our updated rules. Bring books, magazines, catalogs, and any other garden resources you'd like to share. See you soon!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

You are Invited to our Annual Potluck!

Announcing our annual potluck!

Saturday, February 7
From noon - 3:00pm

A Just Harvest
7649 N Paulina St, Chicago, Illinois 60626
Bring something delicious to share for a potluck lunch, while we discuss our hopes and dreams for our beautiful community garden in the 2015 growing season. We will hear from our Leadership Team, and we'll have a chance to review our updated rules. Bring books, magazines, catalogs, and any other garden resources you'd like to share. See you soon!