CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for Chicago

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 »

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 »

Four dollars and a dream: is a windowsill lettuce crop possible?

I'm hoping that this lettuce will survive and thrive on my condo windowsill.

Here's hoping this leaf lettuce will survive and thrive on the windowsill of my Chicago condo.

We’ve talked about growing heirloom tomatoes as an entree into recession gardening, well, now dare we dream of cultivating a companion crop of lettuce, too?

I recently read somewhere in cyberspace that it was relatively easy to grow lettuce on your windowsill — and to keep it going! And while I always assumed lettuce required lots of space, who am I to argue with the Worldwide Web.

So today, when glancing at the plant offerings on flats outside my local grocery store I stopped and took notice of the lovely cell packs of lettuce and thought: I have an empty windowsill, so why not Read the rest of this entry »

The circle of life goes on and more seeds come out

Heirloom tomato seeds sprouted quickly.

Heirloom tomato seeds sprouted quickly.

The tax man notwithstanding, mid-April brings with it many a happy harbinger of spring: Tomorrow’s weather forecast puts Chicago in the 70s, we’ve had a couple of days of fitful April showers, the heirloom tomato seeds I planted just last week have sprouted and now, in their new sunny location, are bowing their heads in deference to heliotropism.

Life goes on.

And so does my planting. I’m about to start a second wave — this one just for flowers — and pulling out the 72 peat pellet tray for the occasion. I realize that if you’re a first-timer it’s hard to imagine that these slight seedlings will become strong, fully developed plants, baring flowers and Read the rest of this entry »