CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Veggies sized right for a small- space garden; plus, a recipe using the teeny Thai eggplant

DSC01009Adaptability. To my way of thinking, it’s the most important tenet of urban gardening.

Translation: assess your space and find plants that work within said space.

I have a 5 x 12 foot balcony, so I can’t plant towering fruit trees or endless rows of corn. I can’t grow the huge purple aubergine so fabulous in eggplant parmesan, but I can grow the tiny but 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 »

Year two: The promise of spring, renewal, and all that jazz

To my mind, winter was made so that we could more fully experience the exquisite bliss of the awakening of spring.

In fact, in more sentimental moments, I feel downright sorry for my gardening buddies languishing in tropical climes (smile).

OK, so they have non-stop blooms, lush color and the life that gardens bring to your world all year-round. But, hear me out, what they miss is Read the rest of this entry »

Of four-leaf clovers and other rare plant-world occurrences

DSC00911As visions of shamrocks danced in my head this week, I found myself suddenly transported back to first grade. One thing I recall clearly all these years later, is the vast, emerald field of clover that stood adjacent to my school.

The teacher would occasionally allow the class to while away recess period scouring patches of clover in search of that rare four-leaf specimen hiding among the three-leaf species. If a student Read the rest of this entry »

Color choices – blue, orange and I also want to paint it black

If you’ve followed this blog you know I love blue in the garden. Can’t deny it, can’t escape it.

And “true” blue is a hue that I find  absolutely irresistible. Thus, it likely will always play into my garden color scheme.

This year is no exception.

But, I have flipped the script a bit with my companion colors. Orange, which was a minor presence last year, will assume a dominant role, and, I’m also exploring black as a primary tone.

I do realize that “black” is perhaps even more elusive than “true” blue in flowering plants, so when I say black, that translates into extremely Read the rest of this entry »

Cold comfort: Rosemary, Thyme, and spicy chili for a dreary day

Sunday was bleak here in Chicago. With sleet raining down on my once bountiful balcony garden and serving as a barometer of the snow to follow, it’s no surprise I sought a little comfort from the cold.

In other words:  A glowing fire in the hearth, a flavorful pot of chili on the stove top, and a diversionary DVD at the ready.

One collection that offers the perfect degree of light entertainment for the off-season gardener is the aptly named “Rosemary & Thyme.” In the 2003-2007 British series, two women of a certain age wind up partners in a gardening business after one is dumped by her husband and the other by her employer.

The title derives from the given name of the latter and the surname of the former. Rosemary Boxer 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 »

For urban balcony gardener, there’s no denying the coming of winter (or the promise of spring)

There’s still a week to go before autumn’s end, yet Chicago finds itself already wrapped in the cloak of winter.

After a bout of snow and bitter chill — with more in this week’s forecast — my cold-tolerant plants can no longer tolerate the harsh reality of our plummeting temperatures (smile).

I had wished for my balcony garden to last through Thanksgiving. Thankfully, it did. The first Read the rest of this entry »

Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme – and sweet potatoes?

It’s 5 p.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I’m happy to say that I’ve just clipped fresh herbs from my balcony garden to use in preparing dinner — parsley, sage, rosemary and, yes, thyme.

And I’d say the holiday arrives just in the nick of time, since the forecast has temps dipping precipitously tonight and I’m not sure the garden will last past the next few days.

As I’ve got more preparation to do in the kitchen, I just wanted to briefly share with you some of the Read the rest of this entry »