Gardening Tips for the Chicago Area

Owen Dodson works on his raised bed last spring. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Alessio

Owen Dodson’s passion for plants blossomed at an early age. “When I was 5 or 6, I started gardening with my dad and fell in love with it,” the eighth-grader Bloomingdale’s told Axios.

  • Owen’s father died suddenly last spring, and he used gardening as a way to remember and heal.

🧑‍🌾 In the week before At the start of the unofficial planting season, we asked him if he could share some of his experiences and advice.

His crops: “I love planting pumpkins and watermelons because even though they are difficult, they are a lot of fun.”

  • “I also like sunflowers because I see them as both a vegetable and a flower.”
  • Owen also sprouts potatoes in his closet during the winter so he can plant them in mid-spring to be ready in the fall.

Be smart: “Lettuce is probably the easiest and fastest to grow,” says Owen. “It’s great for cool climates, and you can harvest in one big clump or over time.

  • “Radish is another very, very fast growing cool season crop. So if you’re eager to garden, it’s a really fun plant to grow.
  • “Herbs are really easy to grow. Probably the easiest of them all is basil, which is a classic. And there are all kinds of different colors and flavors. So I find that to be a lot of fun.”

What we are looking at: Owen doesn’t just garden. The tween also hosts the YouTube cooking show “Owen’s Treats.”

  • Recipes range from baked buñuelos and peanut butter bars to his all-time favorite, a microwaved chocolate chip cookie in a mug.


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