CityDiggity

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The ‘recession garden’ and home-grown tomatoes

A black plum heirloom tomato plant just beginning to fruit a couple summers back.

A black plum heirloom tomato plant just beginning to fruit a couple summers back.

As you’ve doubtless surmised, I’m absolutely passionate about my heirloom tomatoes. What began as a lark and later became a hobby, has blossomed into a full-on obsession. So, when a friend drew my attention to the CNN Web site’s “recession gardens” report, I figured now was the perfect time to pull out my soapbox and extol the virtues of home-grown tomatoes.

The gist of the CNN article is that the recession (and possibly First Lady Michelle Obama) is encouraging an increasing number of Americans to make use of their personal green space to grow Read the rest of this entry »

Flowers can bring tidings of comfort, and joy

Morning glory's fleeting flowers last just a few hours, but sunrise brings a new crop.

Morning glory's fleeting flowers last just hours, but sunrise brings a new crop.

I should probably wait until we get to know one another better before I start going on about how gardens are a meditation on Life, and yes, I mean life with a capital “L” (smile). Still, it’s pretty difficult not to see concepts small and large — like growth, reinvention, death and rebirth — rooted in even the most modest of gardens.

Perhaps this accounts for why flowers, given at such joyous occasions as birthdays and anniversaries, are also what we reach for when Read the rest of this entry »

Remains of the day: spring ice can’t dash gardeners’ hope

Much to my cat's dismay, ice had even settled on top of the dead grass in his pot.

Much to my cat's dismay, ice had even settled on top of the dead grass in his pot.

After a couple of really pleasant days, the week ended with Saturday evening rain turning to late night snow. By the time I looked out on Sunday, random patches of ice remained on the wooden deck of my balcony. But am I down? Nope. This is typical of the gentle, back-and-forth teasing Chicago weather unleashes on its hopeful gardeners in spring. We enjoy the flirtation! And with flower seeds on the way (I ordered a total of 11 packets) I’m already blocking out the garden in my mind.

And speaking of seeds, if I haven’t made it clear, let me stress to those starting this gardening journey for the first time: I don’t recommend depending on seeds alone. Whether through Read the rest of this entry »

Starter gardener: planting a seed

A past season's end game:

A past season's end game: A view of my balcony garden with city vista beyond.

It doesn’t take much more than a 63 degree March day in Chicago to turn the thoughts of urban gardeners like myself outward.

Well, 63 degrees is exactly what we gotrecently, and before I had the slider fully open my cat Melon scampered through his (self-made) cat door onto my condo balcony. (I vow to replace the torn screen in the days to come.)

His pot of grass from last year sits dead and brown, but still he nibbled on the dry blades and doubtless recalled the pleasures of our gardens past.For several summers now I’ve cultivated a small-space garden on my city balcony to provide a buffer from life’s stresses and  downtown’s pounding heartbeat — at least for a few brief months.

If you’re a beginner looking to create your own oasis in the city, or, if you’ve been at it for a while like I have, we’ll share our experiences and triumphs through this blog. I just wanted to plant the seed…

So let’s get the garden party started!