CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for balcony_garden

It’s deja vu: plants have to be hauled inside – one last time

DSC00640DSC00631DSC00636If you’ve been following my posts, you’ve read about how work on the exterior of my building has been interfering with my balcony garden. I had to move all the plants — herbs, flowers, heirloom tomatoes — inside for nearly two weeks! And once they were back outside there was still the issue of mortar dust blowing about.

Well, the dust has finally settled, but instead of being able to kick back and relax in the garden I had to move the plants inside — all over again! This time it was because our association mandated painting of the balcony railings and washing and sealing of the wooden deck flooring.

So, I was up at 7 on Tuesday morning hauling three 36-inch boxes of flowering and trailing plants, two 36-inch boxes of herbs and edibles, Read the rest of this entry »

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Configuring a planter box of herbs and assorted edibles

DSC00227DSC00353DSC00358Nothing is foolproof when it comes to the garden. (And I’ve been fooled enough times to prove it!) But, planting what will soon grow into a lush container of herbs and edibles is about as simple as it gets.

Today I assembled purchased plants, sprouts grown from seeds and seeds to sow directly for my two planters, which will feature herbs, edible flowers (and some leaves) and chives. I use 36-inch planters that attach to the Read the rest of this entry »

Inside out: go with a seamless flow from interior to garden

Wrought iron chair adds whimsy.

A wrought iron chair used to add elevation and whimsy plays off similar interior elements.

Today was magnificent! Sunny, 80 degrees, with the softest of breezes playing across my balcony. Gone was the icy chill that has been hidden in the winds of recent days.

Chimes for feng shui

Chimes for feng shui

Sprouts, small plants, and my tabby sunned themselves outside, and as if on cue, I got an email from Burpee saying that the remainder of my plant order was being shipped and would arrive in two days. The danger of frost has past. At last.

With tonight’s low temperature forecast at a nice 60 degrees, I think that for the first time, I’ll leave things out for the duration. Except for the cat, of course. I’ve begun to envision being able to finally sit  Read the rest of this entry »

Make no small plans: use time inside to enhance time outside

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Lantana is one of the ready and waiting small plants I've bought to go in my balcony boxes.

My sprouts and plants are lined up like soldiers next to the balcony sliders, my cat has taken to staring wistfully through the glass while making his little bird sounds, and the empty terra cotta pots outside are stacked and waiting to fulfill their destiny. But Zone Five summers won’t be rushed, despite the impatient champing at the bit to shift into full garden mode.

Birds shouldn't get to have all the outdoor fun

When the bird sounds start, summer is on the way.

With the sunshine battling the chilly air and bouts of icy rain for dominance, we won’t get the green thumbs up until total victory over the fluctuating elements is claimed in this seasonal smackdown.

Of course, when you don’t have California weather, a good portion of your garden work is spent California dreaming — better known here as Read the rest of this entry »

Lights, climbers, action: building a twinkling, virtual garden wall

Net lights hung around the railing of the balcony make for a magical ambience.

Net lights hung around the railing of my city balcony make for nighttime ambiance.

Every summer the City of Chicago puts on a festival called Venetian Night, in which a host of boats tricked out in sparkling lights drift past the city’s shoreline. Did I mention — for those who have never visited Chicago — that the beach here is ACTUALLY DOWNTOWN? What more could an urban dweller ask for?

Technically, it’s lakefront, not beachfront. But, it’s a Great Lake, so it has the aspect of a beach, without the salt water. Anyway, the magical effect of those twinkling lights is what I try to evoke on my 5×12-foot balcony.

I make my brand of magic by attaching a length of Read the rest of this entry »

Mother of all cleanup days: time for dirty job that has to be done

You can only put off cleanup day in the garden for so long before it has to be done.

You can only put off garden cleanup for so long before the day of reckoning arrives.

Those of you in warmer climes probably spent Mother’s Day Sunday winding down colorful garden paths and smelling the early roses, while here on Planet Chicago I tackled the dirty job of cleaning up the debris from last year’s garden.

I promise the garden duck and bird will stand upright when cleanup is done.

I promise the wooden duck and bird will stand proud again.

I know, many people choose to pull out the old plants in late fall, but for me it’s a pretty sad process at that time, since there always are a few flowers struggling to live on — if but for scant days more. I just can’t bear to deprive them of their extended moment of defiance. Cleaning up now, when I know the best Read the rest of this entry »

The color of water and other splashy container gardening secrets revealed

A little water is a wonderful thing. But don't depend on raindrops alone.

A little water is a wonderful thing. But don't depend on raindrops alone to nourish plants.

Armchair sleuth that I am, I jumped at the chance to gather intel when I saw a crew making its way down one of our city streets attending to the splendid hanging baskets Chicago adorns its lamp posts with during summer.

As the magic wand was extended over the baskets I made a discovery that changed the way I would maintain my container plants in the years to come: the water he used … it was, well, BLUE! Maybe that was the secret to success.

From that point forward every other watering lavished on my plants had just the slightest tinge Read the rest of this entry »