Gardening Tips for the Chicago Area

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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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