CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for May, 2009

Coleus: It’s not fall, but these leaves are showing their colors

DSC00277DSC00278DSC00292Nothing turns my head faster than a pretty flower. But, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about leaves.

I’ve seen photos online of leaves with so much pattern and texture that I forgot to look for what blossomed among them. Actually, I  think a leaf appreciation has been playing at the back of my mind for a while now…

A few years ago Chicago held a show downtown in Grant Park called “Garden in a City,” which featured displays of various urban garden possibilities: small yards, roofs, balconies. (Chicago is a big proponent of green roofs, so the Read the rest of this entry »

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A sweet, potato project: Lazy, drizzly day perfect for vine time

Sweet potato vine is a staple in my garden.

Sweet potato vine is a staple in my garden; I've already picked up two for my planter boxes.

‘One potato, two potato …’ I was thinking of the children’s rhyme today when I compared two sweet potatoes that had been languishing in my larder since Easter.

One looked much like it did when I bought it, while the other had several sprouts jutting from it — purple sprouts. And, what’s more, a closer examination revealed what looked to be tiny purple leaves extending, in turn, from them.

Dig the tiny purple leaves

Tiny purple leaves jut from the sprouts of my sweet potato.

The garden is great for awakening a sense of wonder. Even if it’s a long time coming. I’ve used sweet potato vine in my planters for several years now, but only recently started to ponder their relationship to, duh, sweet potatoes.

A little online research gave instructions on how Read the rest of this entry »

No small potatoes: garden herbs boost flavor of picnic side dish

Potato salad with basil pesto and dill is a tasty cookout side dish (see recipe below in post).

Potato salad with basil pesto and dill is a tasty cookout side dish (see recipe below in post).

Memorial Day weekend marks the official opening of Chicago beaches and the unofficial start of picnic season. Besides hitting the shores, we also hit the parks — armed with grills and coolers — for our first taste of summer in the city.

It’s not as warm as it could be this year (low 60s to 70 degrees), but the heat generated by all that outdoor cooking should raise the temperature. And then, the fireworks.

Along with the meats thrown on the barbie, no picnic is complete without the full complement of yummy side dishes, and potato salad is one of my Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t forget the KISS principle when mapping out your garden

Petunia baby duck is very dependable and it's small blossoms are adorable.

Petunia baby duck is very dependable, with adorable, small, yellow-centered blossoms.

It’s easy for me to get caught up in the wake of ambitious dreams when plotting my garden. But lest I drown in the disappointment of plans gone awry, I remind myself of the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. And yes, I’m talking to me.

Experimenting with lots of untried seeds — hoping they all sprout, hoping they don’t fall prey to my cat’s midnight munchies, and hoping they go on to grow, thrive and bloom — that’s a lot of pressure. Of course, I go into it knowing that some seeds won’t sprout and some that sprout won’t survive. What can I say, it’s a process.

That’s why I follow the simple rule of using plantlets that are already established to fill in the Read the rest of this entry »

Inside out: go with a seamless flow from interior to garden

Wrought iron chair adds whimsy.

A wrought iron chair used to add elevation and whimsy plays off similar interior elements.

Today was magnificent! Sunny, 80 degrees, with the softest of breezes playing across my balcony. Gone was the icy chill that has been hidden in the winds of recent days.

Chimes for feng shui

Chimes for feng shui

Sprouts, small plants, and my tabby sunned themselves outside, and as if on cue, I got an email from Burpee saying that the remainder of my plant order was being shipped and would arrive in two days. The danger of frost has past. At last.

With tonight’s low temperature forecast at a nice 60 degrees, I think that for the first time, I’ll leave things out for the duration. Except for the cat, of course. I’ve begun to envision being able to finally sit  Read the rest of this entry »

Make no small plans: use time inside to enhance time outside

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Lantana is one of the ready and waiting small plants I've bought to go in my balcony boxes.

My sprouts and plants are lined up like soldiers next to the balcony sliders, my cat has taken to staring wistfully through the glass while making his little bird sounds, and the empty terra cotta pots outside are stacked and waiting to fulfill their destiny. But Zone Five summers won’t be rushed, despite the impatient champing at the bit to shift into full garden mode.

Birds shouldn't get to have all the outdoor fun

When the bird sounds start, summer is on the way.

With the sunshine battling the chilly air and bouts of icy rain for dominance, we won’t get the green thumbs up until total victory over the fluctuating elements is claimed in this seasonal smackdown.

Of course, when you don’t have California weather, a good portion of your garden work is spent California dreaming — better known here as Read the rest of this entry »

Lights, climbers, action: building a twinkling, virtual garden wall

Net lights hung around the railing of the balcony make for a magical ambience.

Net lights hung around the railing of my city balcony make for nighttime ambiance.

Every summer the City of Chicago puts on a festival called Venetian Night, in which a host of boats tricked out in sparkling lights drift past the city’s shoreline. Did I mention — for those who have never visited Chicago — that the beach here is ACTUALLY DOWNTOWN? What more could an urban dweller ask for?

Technically, it’s lakefront, not beachfront. But, it’s a Great Lake, so it has the aspect of a beach, without the salt water. Anyway, the magical effect of those twinkling lights is what I try to evoke on my 5×12-foot balcony.

I make my brand of magic by attaching a length of Read the rest of this entry »