CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for Chicago_garden

A tale of two sweet potato vines – healthy growth inside and out

DSC00619DSC00625DSC00328While my purchased sweet potato vine grows fast and furious outside, my home- grown vine, sprouting from an actual potato, is on quite a growth spurt inside, too.

As you can see, the longest stem has grown from mere sprouts (third photo) to about two-feet since I started the project a couple months back. Of course, my next challenge is to figure out how to get rid of the potato and create a traditional indoor plant from the vine.

The jar of water that I suspended the cut sweet potato into is now filled with fibrous roots and I have multiple leafy stems protruding from the potato. I’ve decided to take off some of those stems as cuttings and try to root them using one of the peat pellets left over Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

Picking flowers, part 1: decisions, decisions, decisions

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Mixing heights adds dimension.

When I started my first balcony garden several seasons back I admit there was very little method to my madness. I raided the local nursery, home improvement store, grocery store — pretty much any sidewalk that boasted eye-catching plants for sale.

And though I’m still not completely invulnerable to impulse purchases, I am a little more deliberate in my selections. I typically choose a color scheme to work from ahead of time; most of what I pick are annuals (perennials generally don’t flower in the first season and they don’t usually survive Chicago’s Read the rest of this entry »