My Adventures in Gardening…Continued

Finally, the warmth is overtaking the cool temperatures and our gardens are starting to burst, bloom and flourish.

I always like to give an update or two each summer on how my gardens are doing and what I’m growing.

This year, I decided to try some new veggies – veggies we love but that I don’t typically grow or veggies I’ve tried to grow and had very little luck with.

For anyone wondering, I live in Zone 5  in Northern Illinois, so this may be of some help to you in your own garden adventures.

First up is the plant that I’m most excited about: artichokes! I started my Imperial Star artichokes indoors in early February and put them out in our garden in early May. Here’s what one of them looks like now:


We’ve tried artichokes in the past by starting them outside and not had any luck at all with them. Artichokes aren’t a perennial in Zone 5 so they have only one season to grow and produce, meaning you better give them a damn good head start. Here’s what one of them looked like as a baby on March 1:


So far, so good. I’ll keep you posted on their progress. Wish me luck…we love artichokes!

Cool weather veggies that I planted early this spring and didn’t have any luck with are my watermelon, black and daikon radishes. None of them bulbed for me, though my Easter Egg radishes did fine, as usual. I will try again in late summer, for fall crops, and see how they do.

My peas are getting ready for harvest in just another week or two. If you’ve never had fresh green peas right off the vine, you’re truly missing out. Yes, it’s some work to pick and shell them but oh…they’re simply heaven. I’ve not grown peas without edible shells (think sugar snaps and snow peas) for over 10 years now, so I’m really looking forward to these.


Fresh green peas off the vine are like fresh sweet corn right off the stalk…pure bliss. For the record, I’m growing fresh sweet corn this year, too. It’s about a foot tall right now and going strong. It’s been at least a decade since I’ve grown sweet corn so I’m looking forward to awing my husband with its deliciousness.

Aside from artichokes, peas, and corn, I have all the usual suspects growing. Tomatoes, red bell peppers, jalapenos, eggplant, zucchini, green beans, beets, scallions, lettuce, spinach, and all my herbs.

Other new things I’m growing this year are fennel, Parisian carrots, purple kohlrabi, and leeks. The fennel is doing awesome and my carrots are on their second planting because the first ones didn’t take. Kohlrabi is supposed to be pretty easy and fast by mine aren’t moving along very quickly. Leeks look great but we’ll see how they’re doing in another month or so.

Hopefully, I’ll also be posting some new recipes again soon. Gardening takes up some time but it’s oh, so worth it.

6 thoughts on “My Adventures in Gardening…Continued

  1. Lovely! I love gardening and it feels good to get your hands in the soil, and then watch things grow. The best part is knowing that you did it yourself! Be well Lola! ^..^

    • Lesley at Lola Rugula says:

      I always love hearing from fellow gardening friends – thank you so much! People who garden are the only ones who understand the joy of getting your hands in the dirt. Be well yourself!

  2. I used to live in Illinois (Chicago area) and know what a challenge the growing season is there. I found radishes (of all types) grow best in composted material. I used to have a raised bed of compost and would plant them right in there. They grew fast and were not hot. (for fun I used to put a cover on the bed and make a cold frame so the first crop was ready while there was still a little frost in the air.

    • Lesley at Lola Rugula says:

      Thanks John – your method of amending the soil is exactly what I think my issue was this year. Easter Egg radishes always do great for me but I had little luck with the others. I think my soil is in definite need of some added compost and nutrients. We compost at home but it’s just not enough for our large gardens. Thanks again!

  3. I love that you’re planting different varieties of vegetables. I’ve never had luck with that, so I stick with the standards. Our issues in Oklahoma are challenging – humidity, bugs, heat, ugh. My daughter just ate one of the last strawberries from a bowl, and there was a worm in it. She’ll probably never eat strawberries again! And she’s 31!!!

    • Lesley at Lola Rugula says:

      I always like to try a couple new things but this year it’s quite a few. My husband bit into a huge strawberry years ago and it had a spider inside it…now he’ll only eat them if I cut them in half first. 🙂 I think he’d understand your daughter’s pain. Yuck!

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