Growing fresh produce is not nearly as hard as many people think.  As with most things in life, the bulk of the work is in the preparation.  Rich soils, deep beds, and simplified irrigation all help to greatly reduce maintenance while significantly boosting productivity. Properly done, an organic garden will return loads of first-quality produce for minimal cost and effort. 

And if you'd like help with the planning and prep stages, we're here to help...

 

 

planning

To maximize the productivity and beauty of your garden, we will create a detailed garden layout and plan.  Permaculture design methods strengthen the links in your garden's ecosystem by encouraging cooperation and sharing of nutrients, microbes, and beneficial insects.  Solar orientation and wind conditions are also taken into account to improve conditions for plant growth.

 

  

  

 

 

micro-drip irrigation

Drip irrigation uses water very efficiently and gets moisture directly to the plants' roots.  It also simplifies and speeds watering.

 

 

  

 

 

cold frames

These miniature greenhouses allow you to start your plants much earlier and continue late into the Fall.  They prevent frost from damaging plant leaves, and warm interior air and soil temperatures during cool seasons to promote growth.

Do it yourself cold frames can be as simple as a clay pot covered with a piece of plexi-glass, or a wooden box covered with a salvaged window sash.

 

 

  

 

 

raised beds

By building a raised bed, plant roots have access to an additional layer of rich soil to grow into.  Beds can simply be built-up soil or boxes constructed of wood or other material.

Utilizing Ed Smith's W.O.R.D. method (wide rows, organic methods, raised beds, deep soil) greatly improves plant health and size as more nutrients and water are available for growth.

Prior to installation of the raised bed, the subsoil is loosened and enriched with organic fertilizers and nutrients.  Next, an eight inch layer of compost, soil, manure and nutrients are added and blended together.  The result is a 16 inch bed of super-rich, aerated soil that retains water and provides organically charged, friable soil, producing the ultimate conditions for root development, feeding and watering.

Finally, add a drip system topped with a layer of mulch to suppress weeds and retain water, and watch your produce explode to life!

 

 

  

 

 

no-dig gardens

This method is also called 'sheet-composting'.  It was developed in the arid land Down Under by the originators of Permaculture design, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren

Layers of newspaper, straw, compost and soil are built up on top of existing soil or grass to create a raised bed that feeds your organic plants.  Each layer is sprinkled with organic nutrients to provide a culture for beneficial microbes, worms, grubs and insects that break the materials into a rich humus.  This is a low-maintenance garden as moisture is retained in the mulch and weeds are blocked from below.

This method also works very well in containers.

 

 

 

  

 

 

container gardens

When space is tight, container gardening can allow you to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers on patios, decks and balconies.  We can deliver pots, barrels and/or planter boxes filled with rich, ready-to-plant soil to provide high-output micro-gardens in limited urban areas.

 

 

  

 

 

plant trellises & pergolas

Climbing plants such as tomatoes, peas, squash and pole beans need supports to climb to maximize fruit production.  From simple stakes and cages to architectural trellises and pergolas, we can design and build a solution for any condition.

 

 

  

 

 

built environments

Your yard should provide space for you to enjoy your garden.  We can design and build patios, decks, benches, pergolas and other structures to create your garden retreat.  For more information, please see ehrlum.com.

 

 

  

 

 

water harvesting

For every inch of rain that falls on 1000 square feet of roof area, 623 gallons of water land on that surface.  This water can be captured in barrels, and later used in watering cans or to supply an irrigation system.  While conserving fresh water, this also benefits the environment by diverting rainfall from the sewer.

 

 

  

 

 

parties & events

With over twenty years of barbecue experience and culinary experimentation, Gregg can turn your fresh vegetables into a feast while you enjoy the party.  All recipes, marinades and sauces are Gregg's own.  Ethnic influences include Mexican, Italian, Greek, MidEastern, Indian, FarEast and old standbys from America's Mid- and South-west.

 

if you need one of Chicago's finest photographers / photojournalists to document the festivities, look no further!

 

 

  

 

 

 

Spring is in the air... it's time to get that garden started!  For assistance, please call with any questions or to schedule a consultation to get your farm-fresh, urban organics growing!

Best regards,

Gregg Brazel

 

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additional resources

Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward Smith

Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long by Eliot Coleman

No-dig gardening, LA Times

The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka

Permaculture: A Designers' Manual by Bill Mollison

An Introduction to Permaculture by Gregg Brazel

the Urban Garden Project

Herbal remedies

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organic seeds, fertilizers and tools

Johnny's Selected Seeds

in addition to supplying first quality organic seeds, johnny's has a remarkably useful website.  loads of information on cultivating from seed to harvest. 

tip: enter a plant type into johnny's search engine, select a variety, then click on the "growing information" tab to learn about required pH, growing zones, etc.

Seeds of Change