These are a few guides on seed starting, vegetable varieties, organic gardening practices, plus links to gardening groups.
Chicago is in Plant Hardiness Zone 6a.
Average last frost date: May 15 according to the Chicago Botanic Garden for their Glencoe gardens. The date varies year to year, and our garden's proximity to the lake might temper colder weather and allow planting out of tender plants sooner. The local wisdom is to wait for Memorial Day for planting tomatoes, peppers, and other warm season crops. Keep an eye on the forecast and be prepared to cover seedlings with cloches, plastic sheeting, or wall-o-water.
When to Start Seeds
Plug in our average last frost date into this calculator from A Way to Garden to get exact dates to start many vegetables, flowers, and seeds, both indoors and outside.
How to Start Seeds
Planting and seed-saving instructions from Seed Savers Exchange
FAQs at A Way to Garden, and excellent blog from garden expert Margaret Roach
Seed Starting articles from seed company Botanical Interests
Organic Gardening magazine's site offers bountiful advice for vegetables and more.
Growing edibles and more from Botanical Interests
The online Kitchen Garden Planner from Gardener's Supply plans a square-foot garden in minutes.
The Peterson Garden Project is a Chicago not-for-profit group dedicated to teaching city-dwellers how to grow their own food as well as community. They offer classes, seedling sales, and opportunities to volunteer. Their guide to new gardeners is Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland. Find them on Facebook, too.
Chicago Community Gardens is a network of Chicago gardeners.
American Community Gardening Association offers training workshops, publications, and conferences to its members.
Hyde Park Garden Fair hosts an annual plant sale and supports community projects.