Wednesday, September 5

Rick Bayless and One Seed Chicago

At One Seed Chicago we provide free garden seeds to Chicagoans to help promote gardening at home and joining community gardens. It is our way of helping making Chicago a greener city for all of us. We're blessed with a number of fantastic chefs in this city who appreciate food, and local growers and go out of their way to nurture a positive food culture.

Like many of you we have spent hours watching Chef Bayless on WTTW preparing meals in his kitchen right here in Chicago. His urban farm just outside of his home kitchen is a thing of beauty, and a testament to how much food you can grow at home with a little bit of effort.

We recently caught up with Chef Bayless and had the opportunity to give him a packets of our One Seed Chicago 2012 winner, and make him a One Seed Chicagoan. We also sent him back to Frontera Grill with some extra seed packs to give out to staff of the restaurant and hope they join us in the future by voting for their favorite seed every year.

Voting for One Seed Chicago is closed for the season. Our voting schedule is Jan 1st-April 1st every year, and then we distribute the winning seed to every Chicagoan that voted. Check back with us then if you'd like to participate.

In the meantime, we'd love to see pictures of your basil plants this year and how you're using your harvest in the kitchen. You can tweet us pictures at @OneSeedChicago or post them to our wall.

Wednesday, June 27

Sowing Your One Seed Chicago Basil Seeds

While speaking with some One Seed Chicago participants on Twitter we learned that many of you hadn't sown your basil seeds. We understand that life can get in the way of gardening, but there is still time to sow the One Seed Chicago 2012 winner in your garden. Yes, it's summer, but it's a good time to sow a second season crop of basil seeds.

You thought you could only sow seeds in the spring?

Sowing basil seeds now will extend your basil harvest late into the fall. If you have kids, sowing your basil seeds with them will help keep them busy for a few moments and teach them about the life cycle of seeds. 

Inside of your One Seed Chicago 2012 seed packet you'll find information on sowing your seeds, but we'll briefly explain it here.  

Sowing Basil Seeds With Kids

Open the seed packet you got in the mail or an event this spring. Have your little gardener read the information to give him/her a mini-lesson on growing basil.

We used natural fiber pots with our garden helper, but you can sow your basil seeds in plastic cup, deli container or a newspaper seed starting pot. Moisten the soil a bit with a bottle sprater before adding the seeds.

After moistening the soil add a couple of seeds per container, and give it another good spray from the bottle sprayer. Set the seeds in a warm window. The seeds should germinate in about a week due to the warmer temperatures of summer versus spring.

Give your garden helper the job of checking the seeds daily for sprouting. Make sure your seeds don't dry out while they are germinating, but you don't want the soil to be soggy either. After the basil seeds have sprouted, plant them in the garden and remember to keep them nice and watered!

Sowing Basil Seeds Without Kids

You can sow your basil seeds directly in the garden following the instructions we provided in the One Seed Chicago seed packet. Sow the seeds in the garden bed, container, or raised bed you want them to grow. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and keep them moist until they germinate. After the seeds have sprouted water accordingly.

There's a wide variety of basil seeds available to home gardeners, and you can sow them all now in the garden for a late season harvest. If you're looking for more basil seeds check out the selection sold by  Nature's Crossroad's, our One Seed Chicago seed sponsor for 2012. They generously provided us with the basil seeds sent out to every One Seed Chicago participant.

Thursday, April 19

And the One Seed Chicago 2012 Winner Is

The winner of the One Seed Chicago 2012 election will be announced at the Green & Growing Urban Gardening Fair. The Green & Growing Fair will be held on Saturday, April 28 at the Garfield Park Conservatory. The fair take place throughout the conservatory and is fun for the whole family and a fantastic resource for community gardeners and gardeners of all kinds.

Stop by the One Seed Chicago table to pick up a packet of the One Seed Chicago 2012 winner. If you voted you'll get your seed packet in the mail, but you can also get a free packet on this day. We'll be trying something new this year at the One Seed Chicago table. Not only will you be able to get a seed pack of the winner, but we'll be hosting a mini-seed swap there. Bring seeds you've saved from your garden (packaged and labeled) and swap them with other One Seed Chicago participants.

Outside in the courtyard area you can create newspaper pots with conservatory staff and plant the seeds of the One Seed Chicago 2012 winner for free.

You'll also have the opportunity to buy seedlings of the winner at the Garfield Park Conservatory seedling table and help raise funds for the conservatory.

Can't get enough of seeds and seedlings? In the children's garden you can sow seeds for a pizza garden to take home with you.

Other "Stop and Grow" Stations at  Green & Growing Fair

  • How to keep bees and make compost in the city, presented by volunteers from the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance
  • How to conserve water and other helpful tips for community gardeners, presented by NeighborSpace’s Growing Station garden
  • How to build a mini raised garden bed with staff from Openlands
  • How to get involved with your local advisory council with information provided by Friends of the Park
  • How to make ladybug habitats and bee fountains for your garden from Growing Home staff, as well as receive important information on plants to include and pesticides to avoid in your garden.
  • How to, using a specially designed deck of cards, design your community garden space with fellow community gardeners at Archeworks “Grow It Yourself” station.
  • How donate garden harvest to local food pantries, presented by folks from the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Don't Miss

  • Miniature Worm Compost bins, just the right size for composting in your kitchen. These bins have been constructed by the Garfield Park Conservatory Green Teens, an 'After School Matters' program. 
  • The KOCHTERRII™ pepper, on sale for the first time, is hotter than a jalapeƱo but tamer than a cayenne. This new pepper, bred by Garfield Park Conservatory horticulturists Koch Unni and Terri Reardon, is brand spanking new variety, created right here in Sweet Home Chicago.
  • Get your tools sharp and ready for their future garden ground breaking at Chicago Botanic Garden’s Green Youth Farm’s Tool Sharpening table.

Landscape in the City at Public Presentation Sessions

Presented by: The Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Streetscape and Sustainable Design Program
Location: Community Room
Sessions: 11:30- 12:30, 1:15- 2:15, 3:00- 4:00
Come to one or all of these free presentation and question and answer sessions, to learn more about maintaining public urban landscapes in a sustainable and community-oriented way. No registration required, but space limited. Arrive early.

11:30am- 12:30pm- Going Wild or Going Native: Knowing Your Weeds and Your Perennials
Having a difficult time separating out the weeds from the perennials? Come ask questions and find out more information about basic plant care, recommended low maintenance/native plants and weed identification for public urban spaces. Presenters include Kevin Carroll from CDOT and Trish Beckjord from Midwest Groundcovers.

1:15pm- 2:15pm-Composting and Rain Harvesting: Living Green and Sustainable
From composting to rain harvesting, there are many ways to utilize sustainable practices at home and in the garden. Find out more about methods to collect storm water, composting, and other sustainable options. Presenters include Sarah Abu-Absi from the Chicago Sustainable Backyards Program, Emily Shelton from the Chicago Botanic Garden, and Amber Gribben from Urban Worm Girl.

3:00pm- 4:00pm-Sustaining Community Spaces
Community gardens and landscape improvements in the public way have to start somewhere. Find out how community members have gotten involved to improve and maintain their neighborhoods and the City services that give support. Presenters include John Chikow, President and CEO of the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association and Ty Tabing, Executive Director of the Chicago Loop Alliance.


  • Shop the Silent Auction for Gardening Tools and Treasures and help raise money for GreenNet, and also peruse our used gardening book and magazine sale.
  • Food and live music.
  • Lots of great plants and products to help you start and grow your garden.


Think Green! Take the CTA Green Line to the new Conservatory-Central Park Drive Station. The station is just steps away from the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

View Larger Map

Please note: the Conservatory is located at the “Conservatory-Central Park” stop of the Green line on the West Side of Chicago, not the “Garfield” stop on the South Side at 55th St.

DROP-OFF-For bus, taxi and automobile drop-off of passengers there is a designated drop-off area directly in front of the Conservatory's main entrance on Central Park Ave.
FREE PARKING is just south of the Conservatory's main entrance.

DRIVING-Take the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290). Exit at Independence Boulevard (Exit 26A) and travel north. Turn right (east) onto Washington Boulevard. Turn left (north) onto Central Park Avenue.(3600W) Travel two blocks north past the Garfield Park Golden Dome field house and the Lake Street public transit line. The Conservatory is on the west side of the street at 300 N. Central Park Ave.

We hope to see you there, and don't forget to pick up a free seed packet of the winner and swap seeds at the One Seed Chicago table. Follow @OneSeedChicago on Twitter or to get updates and reminders on the Green & Growing Fair. 

Sunday, April 1

One Seed Chicago 2012-Vote Today.

Basil and Cilantro picture used by permission of Renee's Garden. Chamomile picture original to One Seed Chicago.

Chamomile: One Seed Chicago 2012 Candidate

Photo credit One seed Chicago

Sprays of petite daisy-like flowers are the most impressive characteristic of chamomile plants. This 'noble' herb's reputation as a medicinal plant has made it a favorite of cultures for thousands of years. The plant is in the family Asteraceae which include plants like marigolds, dahlias and zinnias.

Chamomile comes from the Greek "Chamomaela," meaning "earth/ground apple." The common name of chamomile is applied to a number of species, but that doesn't mean they can be used as an herbal tea.

Chamomile's history dates back at least as far as to the Ancient Egyptians, but it was probably used by people even earlier. In Spain is it known as manzanilla, another common name associated to the apple-like scent of the blooms. The Romans used it for incense and in beverages. In the Middle Ages it was used by Anglo Saxons in making beer. The Ancient Egyptians dedicated it to their gods because of purported healing properties, which is probably where it got it's reputation for treating various disorders and lower fever.

Where to Grow
Thinly sow seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before last frost. Seeds sound be planted about 1/8 inch deep and provide a strong light source until plants are 2-3 inches tall. Seeds germinate in about 10-14 days. After acclimating plants to outdoor growing conditions transplant your plants into the ground or container about 4 inches apart. Outdoors, seeds should sown after all dangers of frost have passed and kept evenly moist until they germinate in a full sun location.

More Info

We're unveiling each of the candidates, one at a time, beginning at 7AM on January 1, 2012. At 10AM on 1/01/12 the voting ballot will be live on and you can be among the first to cast your vote. Click the "One Seed Chicago 2012" label below this sentence to see all of the candidates on one page.