Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to tour the garden of chef, restaurant owner and all around cool dude, Rick Bayless. He's a Chicago staple and his backyard means business. Want to take a peek?
The Bayless property is an excellent lesson in using a small space to the best of its abilities. They own two city lots and rent out the house next door, while keeping the backyard for themselves. Rick Bayless is someone's landlord. Just in case you're reading this Rick, I'll happily volunteer for your first availability.
The lot behind his main residence has low raised beds where he has a small team of gardeners that stay on top of crop production. They mainly grow microgreens for his restaurants here in town. In that same section there is also a beehive, plots of squash and berries, and a propagating and planting area to keep things rolling.
The lot next door hosts a lovely garden full of foliage and seasonal plants so there is always something in bloom and attractive to look at. You'll also find secret patches of long beans and strawberries growing.
Right outside his side door (where all the filming for his show happens) you'll find a small grill area and in ground pit for his whole hog roasting adventures. There are a few chickens that he keeps seasonally for the eggs and an entertaining patio space to chat away the night on.
The amount of vegetables and yield that this small space produces is fantastic and although Rick has a team of folks taking care of it himself, it does go to prove that you can do quite a bit with a small patch of space. His beds are low, so the cost for soil was kept down and things are planted in areas where they will do best. They haven't just taken into account the sunlight, but also the Chicago breeze to help balance out temperatures to help plants retain water.
Thanks to the Bayless family for making this property available for locals to check out; it was inspiring at the least and always nice to see that celebrities are human too, even if this human doesn't have a winch installed on her deck to bring large tropical plants indoors for the winter. Lucky!
(Images: Sarah Rae Trover)