CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

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Despite cold and neglect, some balcony plants still blooming

DSC01059DSC01037Monday was a delight. It was bright and sunny and felt more like the beginning of spring than the middle of fall. I was drawn outside onto the balcony. Drawn to the garden I’d given over to hibernation.

While brown had replaced the once-green foliage in most of my planters, and naked dry stems stood where there previously was a profusion of blossoms, I was pleased to discover that there were a few flowers mixed among the ruins.

The petunia baby duck was still covered with its small, pale yellow blossoms; the lobelia is flourishing prolifically; and, the Nigella — which Read the rest of this entry »

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Tomatoes indoors? Plants keep producing despite relocation

DSC01025About a week or so ago when a freeze warning was announced I finally gave up the garden, leaving my summer pride and joy on the balcony to suffer the chilling winds of the changing seasons.

Some of the sturdy herbs I left out in hopes they’ll last till Thanksgiving when I can fold parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme into the traditional dishes.

But the basils, jalapeno and my fancy leaf geranium were pulled inside to be turned into pesto, pickled peppers and a favored house plant. Harvesting and saving a thing or two is pretty much a part of my yearly garden ritual, but I did Read the rest of this entry »

Flower boxes look good for now; but, I definitely need a new plan

DSC00403DSC00413No, dear friends, my plants are not happily basking outside today as I had planned.

Not because the weather didn’t hold up. Not even because I didn’t want to repeat all that lifting just to do it again in reverse a day and a half later. No, after stepping out onto my balcony with the best of intentions, I looked up — and then backed out. Or rather, backed back in… into my condo, that is.

I decided that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to tempt fate and mess about outside while a huge metal scaffolding platform hung overhead — no Read the rest of this entry »

In the urban jungle we take our green space where we find it

City sidewalk-scapes like this bring nature to concrete jungle.

Vividly planted sidewalkscapes like this bring touches of nature to the city's concrete jungle.

My obsession with urban gardening is no doubt a manifestation of my own need to get back to nature. It is a need apparently shared by countless city dwellers.

Chicagoans who can afford it buy weekend getaway homes in the country, others squeeze gardens onto terraces, rooftops, porches or, like me, a small condo balcony.

And our city — in league with our pastoral proclivities — plants ginko trees in grates along Read the rest of this entry »

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 Read the rest of this entry »

One garden, four delights: color, fragrance, texture and taste

Yellow Nasturtium has edible leaves and flowers.

Yellow Nasturtium (against purple Morning Glory) has edible leaves and flowers.

Sensory overload. It’s one of a garden’s most enchanting promises. And, indeed, it’s what likely contributes to a garden’s universal appeal. The vibrant colors, the delicate fragrances, the varied textures and wonderful flavors all stimulate the senses. I try to reflect each of these aspects in my small outdoor space. Here’s how I’ll introduce them:

Color: My palette — which plays off my interior color scheme — consists of yellows, greens, blues and oranges. I’m using some selections that have performed well for me in the past as a base, and Read the rest of this entry »

Starter gardener: planting a seed

A past season's end game:

A past season's end game: A view of my balcony garden with city vista beyond.

It doesn’t take much more than a 63 degree March day in Chicago to turn the thoughts of urban gardeners like myself outward.

Well, 63 degrees is exactly what we gotrecently, and before I had the slider fully open my cat Melon scampered through his (self-made) cat door onto my condo balcony. (I vow to replace the torn screen in the days to come.)

His pot of grass from last year sits dead and brown, but still he nibbled on the dry blades and doubtless recalled the pleasures of our gardens past.For several summers now I’ve cultivated a small-space garden on my city balcony to provide a buffer from life’s stresses and  downtown’s pounding heartbeat — at least for a few brief months.

If you’re a beginner looking to create your own oasis in the city, or, if you’ve been at it for a while like I have, we’ll share our experiences and triumphs through this blog. I just wanted to plant the seed…

So let’s get the garden party started!