A green space for urban gardeners

Remains of the day: spring ice can’t dash gardeners’ hope

Much to my cat's dismay, ice had even settled on top of the dead grass in his pot.

Much to my cat's dismay, ice had even settled on top of the dead grass in his pot.

After a couple of really pleasant days, the week ended with Saturday evening rain turning to late night snow. By the time I looked out on Sunday, random patches of ice remained on the wooden deck of my balcony. But am I down? Nope. This is typical of the gentle, back-and-forth teasing Chicago weather unleashes on its hopeful gardeners in spring. We enjoy the flirtation! And with flower seeds on the way (I ordered a total of 11 packets) I’m already blocking out the garden in my mind.

And speaking of seeds, if I haven’t made it clear, let me stress to those starting this gardening journey for the first time: I don’t recommend depending on seeds alone. Whether through fault or fate, some of the seeds I’ve planted in the past didn’t go on to become fabulous flowers. A few never sprouted and some became sprouts that later shriveled up and died. So, don’t set yourself up for disappointment, hedge your bets (yes, a gardening pun) and make sure you purchase some ready-to-go plants to mix in with the ones you start from seed. Consider your dabbling with various seeds a fun experiment with lots of learning to impart. Of course, in the seed department, there are a couple that haven’t let me down yet. One is Nasturtium. In fact, let me tell you a little story…

I first purchased a packet of Nasturtium seeds a few years back — if memory serves, from a rack at the grocery store. (I should preface the story by owning up to being a tinkerer… I sometimes add things to my boxes as afterthought, or just to see what happens.) So, with absolutely no expectations, I took these super-sized seeds and popped them directly into the soil of my already thriving boxes and forgot about them. I didn’t even notice when they sprouted. But when round-ish green leaves with white veins revealed themselves within a couple of weeks, followed later by yellow and orange flowers, the Nasturtium could no longer be ignored. It was a delightful surprise.

Not long after, I saw a garden photo in a magazine of a woman standing next to what looked like a five-foot wall of Nasturtium (those distinctive leaves are easy to spot) — that was my introduction to trailing Nasturtium. The next year, I bought that variety. Then I discovered it was edible. Soon, the flowers crept in among my summer salad greens…

Now, Nasturtium is a staple I start early from seed so that it’s available that much sooner. Funny thing about gardens, they just keep on growing.

1 Comment»

  Lynne Jordan wrote @

I will plant Nasturtium too then.

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