Garden Bytes

Gerber's Garden, April 2020

Happy Earth Day!

We couldn't resist reaching out today, on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. It is a joy to grow and an even bigger joy to grow together. Even though we can't physically work in the garden together at this time, we wanted to share some information about the space and invite you to participate in socially responsible ways!

Our Garden

Gerber's Garden, named in memory of a founding gardener from the school, provides plots for both the school and for community members. We have twelve raised white beds that were established in the Fall of 2017 and now support garden activities by the school's garden club, science classes, and other interested school planters. We also have wooden beds that support other educational and personal garden pursuits by staff, families, and community members.


Our newest initiative has been the development of a Sustainability Garden at Gerber's Garden, funded through a Neighborhood Enhancement Grant from the South East Chicago Commission. Last Fall, students, volunteers, and community members collaborated to plant a strip of native perennials and pollinator attractors and to construct four take-at-will vegetable gardens for anybody passing the garden.

Ready to Harvest

From Seed to Harvest

December Plantings

  • Garlic: Planted by students in garden club, our garlic is now sprouting and will be ready to harvest in June or July. Before the garlic bulb is ready, a long green curled leaf will develop. Called a garlic scape, this is a delicious fresh form of garlic. We will then dry the bulbs so they can be used in the Fall.

April Plantings

  • Radishes: Fast growers, radishes should be ready in May.
  • Peas: Pea shoots make tasty snacks, salads, and stir frys.
  • Lettuce: Baby leaf lettuce tolerates cool soil.
  • Spinach: Giant spinach prefers cool soil, perfect for Spring.
  • Beets, Turnips, and Carrots: We have planted beets and other root vegetables in both the school beds and the take-at-will community beds next to the sidewalk.
  • Annual Herbs: Basil is ready to transplant. We are going to plant cilantro from seed.

Get Involved and Get Produce

Get Text Updates

If you would like to receive text updates about what's available in the garden or general garden announcements, text @ucwgarden to 81010 to join our Remind text list.

Take produce home

At any point in time, if you would like to stop by the garden and pick some herbs or other harvestable produce, please reach out via email or the Remind text list to get information about entering the garden and harvesting.

Get a Plot for your Family

We have plots available for UCW community members. Please reach out to kcarter@uchicagocharter.org if you would like to tend a garden plot with your family. Green thumbs and absolute novices are all welcome!

Support Summer Garden Work

Once the shelter-in-place has lifted, we will share a schedule for routine opportunities to get involved in watering, tending plots, and project work days. If you would like to be added to a general community garden email list for Gerber's Garden, email kcarter@uchicagocharter.org to be added to the Google Group.
Big picture

While taking a walk with Ms. Black, Bella found a stray carrot that had made it through the winter! You too can come and take vegetables and herbs home. #BeLikeBella

Fun for Earth Day and beyond

  • Try some garden-fresh recipes from our partner organization, Big Green.
  • Help NASA save the world's oceans by playing this video game. We may not be near an ocean, but coral is like the ocean's garden.
  • Try your hand at seed germination with this activity with any seeds that you have at home. Send us pictures with your results!
  • Investigate the interactions between humans and our environments with Ecosystem Explorer.
  • Play Cornucopia, an agriculture simulator for the video game lovers out there.
  • Check out this calendar of live-streamed garden and nature events.

Seed of Knowledge: Germination

Germination is the biological process of an organism (living thing) developing from a seed. Plants generally require moisture and temperature regulation (often warmth) in order to germinate. Some plants germinate best in light while others germinate in darkness. In the garden, this has meant that the lettuce seeds needed to only be sprinkled with soil, while some seeds needed to be planted half an inch in the soil. We haven't planted certain seeds yet, because they need warmer soil in order to start the germination process. Garlic, on the other hand, was planted in December because it needed a deep freeze to support its germination.


The word root germ- refers to "seed" and derives from Latin. That means that when we talk about germs and washing them off our hands, we're talking about how we need to remove the tiny living things (viruses, bacteria, etc.) that can spread diseases. They're like the "seeds" of infectious disease.

Check out Big Green

Big Green is a wonderful organization that has supported our learning garden for the past several years. They have created a series of resources for doing garden and food learning at home. Check out Big Green at Home for fun activities and ideas!