CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

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 »

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Mid-July garden follies: wind, rain, heat and the master plan

I started Saturday with a plan. You see, I knew the forecast¬† predicted scattered thunderstorms, which I was actually looking forward to because I hoped they’d take some of the sting out of the blistering heat we’ve been experiencing. I was also hoping to save myself from the grueling task of watering my container plants under the sweltering sun. And lets not forget how beneficial rainwater is to developing plants. And mine, delayed as they are, need all the help they can get (smile).

So, I crafted what I thought was an ingenious scheme: I’d keep watching the skies and when they grew overcast — the dark before the storm — I’d 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 »

The garden started without me: spontaneous blooms are the first of season

I’ve been slow to get my sprouts into the garden, what with waiting out the weather and other distractions. Apparently, though, the garden decided it wouldn’t wait for me.

Despite the fact that I pretty much build my garden on annuals because I don’t expect anything sitting in plastic planters on an exposed balcony, enduring the harsh Chicago winter and winds, to regenerate — I’ve been pleasantly surprised in recent days…

Things started to sprout spontaneously in the 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 »

The mystery of orchids and the Mother’s Day garden timetable


Orchids. There’s just something about them.

And to the envy of mere mortal women, they manage to achieve the double feat of being beautiful and mysterious. And it’s hard to put your finger on just what makes them so entrancing…

Like a good mystery buff, I first became intrigued with the exotic flowering plant after following the exploits of fictional detective Nero Wolfe.

Author Rex Stout painted an intriguing portrait of the brilliant private detective who, in unraveling the evil men do, got a first-hand look at the uglier side of nature.

Not only did his stately brownstone — from which he solved his cases — provide refuge from this ugliness, it also was where he escaped to his beautiful world of orchids.


He owned thousands and devoted the upper level of his home to them, caring for and nurturing them as though they were his children. He was an obsessive and devoted hobbyist.

Of course, today we can all share in the orchid Read the rest of this entry »

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 »