CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Holiday countdown: will cold- tolerant plants go the distance?

DSC01106DSC01102After I discovered that not all of my balcony garden plants had given in to the frigid Chicago autumn, I got a second wind of sorts. (No pun intended.)

I began to think maybe, just maybe, I could cobble together enough of a display to keep a pleasing view to the outside through the fall holiday season.

As you’ll recall, I already have clear net lights attached to the balcony’s perimeter — a perfect Read the rest of this entry »

Tomatoes give one last harvest for the road (and posterity)

DSC00827DSC01031As I cleared away the debris of expired plants from my balcony, I smiled — imagining archaeologists a century from now examining the boards of my deck and finding the fossilized remains of small-fruited heirloom tomatoes that had rolled into crannies and become unwitting players in history.

And next, bring on the anthropologists, to hypothesize about early 21st century urban dwellers and their desperate efforts to secure green space and achieve some small measure of sustainability.

Let me back up a bit in telling this story: About 10 days ago, I went outside to survey the garden since I’d pulled up stakes and called it a wrap for Read the rest of this entry »

Gather ye seed pods while ye may. But after that, what?

DSC01066DSC00813DSC01079I’ve learned a lot from other garden bloggers. At the very least I’ve been inspired to seek out new learning.

So a few months back when a fellow tomato fancier asked if I’d be interested in trading seeds with her, my curiosity was peaked.

(You see, for several years now I’ve been growing heirloom tomatoes using seeds purchased from a catalog. They’re cheap — less than $3.00 a packet — so paying for new ones every season seemed a minimal, yet high-yield investment.)

Eager to learn, I quickly acquiesced. Of course, I had no idea how to get the seeds from the tomatoes to swap. She assured me it was easy peasy.

That was in the spring and I hadn’t thought about Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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 »

The garden in winter: saving some thoughts for a snowy day

DSC00603DSC00553DSC00650Months ago, a friend — who tends to see the glass as half-empty — asked what would happen to this blog when Chicago’s gardening season ended.

It was a question I hadn’t even stopped to ask myself. As it was, I was struggling with finding photos to illustrate posts for my fledgling blog, since nothing was yet in bloom — and, stretching the random photos I’d saved from previous seasons on my cell phone camera was beginning to be, well, a stretch.

Over the course of developing CityDiggity and cultivating my small-space urban oasis I learned Read the rest of this entry »

Denial: not just a river in Egypt, but thriving in a Chicago garden

DSC00914DSC00927DSC00995It’s pretty obvious that I’ve refused to acknowledge fall’s arrival 10 days ago — even in the face of the horrible weather that’s plagued Chicago this past week.

One day it was gale force winds (actually, I’m not sure how much force needs to be exerted to rate gale, but it was pretty severe); then it was temps that were hard pressed to break 60 degrees; and finally came the chilly, steady rain.

All these signals that the garden’s days are numbered, yet still I’m in that happy state called denial, fueled by the combination of hope and unreasoned belief that tell me there will be — have Read the rest of this entry »

By any other name: garden flowers with rose-like blooms

DSC00916DSC00763DSC00918In preparing to show you the blossom of the final lisianthus in the tri-color group I purchased this season — lime green, joining the previously unveiled blue and yellow — I couldn’t help noting how much they lived up to their description. The distributor promised blossoms reminiscent of those on a rose.

Basically, to me that means the way the buds compact and the subsequent layers of petals unfurl look a lot like that most popular of garden flowers. The lisianthus bundle I purchased is in fact dubbed “rose bouquet.”

Unfortunately the lisianthus, an annual, doesn’t provide the added gift of fragrance that roses can Read the rest of this entry »

Even a small-space garden can produce an edible bounty

DSC00820DSC00894Thursday I harvested the first of my rosalita heirloom tomatoes — one bunch of five perfectly proportioned pink grape gems.

After popping a fruit into my mouth, I noted the flavor was softer and sweeter than the wild cherry tomatoes I’d previously picked. And, by-the-way, I plucked multiple clusters of that heirloom from its plant that day, as well.

While I love the intimacy of my small balcony garden, I must admit to occasionally indulging in some rather big dreams. I fantasize about living Read the rest of this entry »

Quick pasta dish with heirloom tomatoes and freshly cut basil

DSC00878If you’re like me, you have countless stories of all-day prep-a-thons, followed by the all-day cook-a-thons that precede a big sit-down dinner for family and friends.

And when a holiday meal is in the works, the pressure increases with the number of place settings.

The rest of the time, though, most of us are just looking for tasty meals that don’t eat into busy Read the rest of this entry »