CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for Heirloom tomatoes

Weather or not: If your garden’s taking the heat, you’d better count your blessings

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It often feels like so much of balcony gardening comes down to waiting on the weather. More than one post on this blog has pivoted on the intemperate turns the weather has taken here in Chicago.

And some of my weather adventures in my small-space balcony garden high above the city streets have bordered on slapstick—at least in retrospect (smile). Not quite as funny in real time when I was scurrying about in overpowering winds trying to right terracotta pots only to have them Read the rest of this entry »

Beating the sweltering summer heat in your urban garden

“Hot town, summer in the city.”

Mercifully, after several days of extreme, upper 90s heat, Chicago received relief today.

Not only was it about 10 degrees cooler, but we also were treated to a nice drenching rain. For urban container gardeners who’ve had to be super vigilant about keeping those plants hydrated, it’s good to get a night off.

Yes, I said “night,” because as we’ve covered previously, that’s the absolute best time to water. “…at night it’s a different world.”

Plus, in this case, it saves the dedicated gardener having to labor beneath the day’s ultra-violet rays.

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Unearthing old seeds for a brand new garden

When I pull out my bag of stockpiled seeds it’s like hitting the reset button on the thrill of a new garden.

I get to pick through the wacky assorted packets I just couldn’t pass up when the grocery store decided to clear its shelves, the splurge purchases from the garden center that were never opened, previously opened envelopes that still have seeds left over, and, not least, the seeds I harvested from gardens past.

The first order of business is creating two stacks — one consisting of seeds for edibles, the other of seeds for flowers.

The edibles cache turned out wonderfully; I found seeds for herbs, lettuce and heirloom tomatoes. In fact, I had an embarrassment of riches and was able to choose from multiple tomatoes for the two pots I’ll eventually set out on the balcony for my container garden. Black plum and Ildi were the heirlooms I decided to plant this year — both small fruit varieties sized right for a small urban space.

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Oh, the horror: Watering tomato plant turned downright scary

It was after midnight. Prime time for watering my balcony garden plants. Or so I thought…

Little did I know that horror lurked under the normally comforting indigo sky. (Fade up the really chilling scary movie soundtrack.)

I turned on the connected strands of the net lights that wrap my small space in a starry blanket. I grabbed my watering can and made my first trip inside to fill it and then returned to commence my daily ritual.

I started on the right side of the balcony with small pots of morning glory tucked in at intervals around the perimeter.

By the time I made it around to the left side and a large heirloom tomato plant, the moonlight glinted on something I couldn’t quite make out…

It looked to me like a huge mutant pea pod, and I instinctively reached out and touched it… Terror Read the rest of this entry »

Nature cuts garden down to size

The weather. It can definitely do damage to a fledgling garden.

But, before we talk about that, let me take you back a couple weeks… When I looked out at the overabundance of seedlings (in my zeal I used about 150 peat pellets) I’d planted for this season’s garden I thought I may have gone a little overboard.

Nature, however, has a way of leveling things out. Torrential rains hit Chicago a few days later, which had me flashing on a scene from the old movie, “Tammy and the Bachelor,” in which the Debbie Reynolds character scurries about in a downpour, Read the rest of this entry »

Seed obsession: it grows on you

In the future (very distant, I hope) someone will be going through the basement of my last known residence and they’ll come across box upon box, filled to overflowing with packets of seeds. Pleased to make your acquaintance, I’m a hoarder.

It all starts innocently enough: I’ll see a pretty, colorful picture adorning a seed pack online or at the local garden store that I just can’t resist. …Or perhaps I’ll succumb to a two-for-one sale.

I always have every intention of planting the seeds that season, but when all is said and done I realize Read the rest of this entry »

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 »