Gardening in Chicago: How to Maximize the Growing Season

Summer days are drawing to an end, but gardeners looking to maximize the growing season have some options for planting, even as they harvest other crops.

And there’s plenty to pick in the WTTW garden. One of the crops flourishing right now: okra!

“It’s a prolific plant,” says organic gardener Jeanne Nolan. “It’s hard to stay on top of it, but it’s delicious.” She even eats small okra pods raw.

A pod that grows too long can still yield seeds to plant next year. Or, turn them into stamps.

“It’s one of my favorite plants to grow,” Nolan says.

In the WTTW garden, a red okra variety shades peppers, which can be prone to sunscald.

Gardeners can remove plants that are finished growing; today, Nolan takes out green beans that are past their prime. The resulting space can be used to plant greens from seed, even in September. Greens will grow through the fall, as opposed to other vegetables, which require hotter weather and more sun.

“Right now the only things we’re planting are spinach, lettuce, arugula, baby kale,” Nolan says. “We have time for them to germinate, grow, and be ready for us to eat in this short window of growth that we have right now.”

Nolan joins Phil Ponce in conversation.

Return to our Homegrown section.

Related stories:

Hanging Out With Jeanne Nolan in Her ‘Happy Place’

WTTW Garden Yields Bumper Harvest

Techniques for Harvesting Your Garden

PBS Slug: