CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for eco-friendly

An Earth Day challenge: grow one item of produce this season

I read an article earlier this week that questioned whether it was cost effective to grow your own food. It listed a ton of supplies needed to begin and suggested balancing the price of those supplies against the price of just purchasing the food outright…

It’s the kind of thing that can discourage a person from getting started, and let me say — as someone who does grow tomatoes and a veggie or two — that you don’t need to tick off a 25-item check list before going gardener. And, you can Read the rest of this entry »

Easy green tips that small-space urban gardeners can embrace

Talk about tough love: This past weekend I came across a cautionary essay on purchasing Valentine’s Day flowers.

The writer, bless his green heart, viewed the arguably commercial holiday through the prism of factory farms. It wasn’t a pretty picture.

But even those of us trying to be increasingly environmentally conscious might have found it difficult to go cold turkey and give up that sentimental bouquet.

If you weren’t quite able to wrap your head (or your arms) around the idea this year, take heart, there are other ways to up your green quotient Read the rest of this entry »

New year, new garden: flowers, tomatoes and a free prairie seed are all part of the mix

With Chicago under threat of a foot of snow, visions of colorful blossoms standing tall against the sun are but a faraway dream. Oh, by the way — Happy New Year!

Of course gloomy days like this are the perfect time for daydreaming, and like other gardening aficionados I’m already planning what I’ll do with my 5×12-foot space come spring. And luckily, Read the rest of this entry »

Cool Chicago summer has garden about a month out of sync

DSC00699DSC00714I often delude myself into thinking that I’m in control of my garden, but in moments of crystalline clarity I realize that it is nature, not I, that bends the garden to its will.

Recently I had to right, and then anchor my heirloom tomato pots after strong winds caused them to topple over.

And, just last evening I was furiously trying to snap a few photos of first-bloomers and complete some garden maintenance before the dark clouds opened up to end the day as it had begun: with driving rain.

The upside: I was spared my nocturnal watering ritual for the day. Nature gives, but sometimes, Read the rest of this entry »

Rain is good for the garden harvest and can be harvested

DSC00435DSC00440It’s amazing what a little sunshine can do to set plants on a healing path. Follow that with a dose of drenching rain and the most beleaguered of gardens will soon make a recovery.

One of the pitfalls of container gardening is that the sun which nourishes also tends to dry my plants out quickly, so frequent watering is a must. By the end of summer, skipping even a day can leave me with brown, shriveled flowering plants and edibles.

And while I’m committed to regular hoisting of the watering can, I’m always grateful when an all-day rain gives me a little relief. Plus, the plants Read the rest of this entry »

The good earth: last season’s soil may be right for reuse

Someone forgot to tell these sprouts that they shouldn't survive outdoors in containers over the Chicago winter.

Even though this soil has been subjected to the elements, healthy sprouts are popping up.

I love getting my hands dirty. In fact when I open those big bags of rich, fluffy potting soil mix I don’t even bother to wear gloves — despite my manicured fingernails. It is one of those joyful rituals that mark the start of what will hopefully be another rewarding season of container gardening.

But hold on, what about the soil left in the pots from last year? Isn’t it wasteful to just dump all that dirt? Is there any way to recycle it for this season’s planters? These are questions a curious city gardener posed to me recently. And Earth Day 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 »