CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

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If garden is a work in progress, then start by working with what’s already there

dillwild

Confession time. I didn’t clean up the wilted and battered relics of my balcony container garden at the end of last season before the soil froze over. I also have been slow to get this season’s garden up and running. I add a random plant here, sprinkle a few seeds there, sweep up one corner of my deck one day, bag up a broken pot the next.

As you can imagine it’s been slow going and frankly, it’s still a work in progress. But I suppose a garden always is, right? You’re constantly making changes and additions, and of course marveling at the surprise changes not of your own making.

PetuniareturnsOne of the advantages of procrastinating with my small, urban garden is that it gives some of the plants that have re-seeded on their own a chance to pop up and perhaps set the basis for the overall arrangement. I recognize the leaves of one of my standard bearers, petunias, at their very early stages so it was easy to begin work from there.

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Unearthing old seeds for a brand new garden

When I pull out my bag of stockpiled seeds it’s like hitting the reset button on the thrill of a new garden.

I get to pick through the wacky assorted packets I just couldn’t pass up when the grocery store decided to clear its shelves, the splurge purchases from the garden center that were never opened, previously opened envelopes that still have seeds left over, and, not least, the seeds I harvested from gardens past.

The first order of business is creating two stacks — one consisting of seeds for edibles, the other of seeds for flowers.

The edibles cache turned out wonderfully; I found seeds for herbs, lettuce and heirloom tomatoes. In fact, I had an embarrassment of riches and was able to choose from multiple tomatoes for the two pots I’ll eventually set out on the balcony for my container garden. Black plum and Ildi were the heirlooms I decided to plant this year — both small fruit varieties sized right for a small urban space.

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Garden is the perfect antidote for the stress of long days

As the sun set on the first day of summer, I reflected on the state of my balcony garden — which, sad to say, is still in its infancy.

The crush of months of unrelenting work, plus a stubborn bug that zapped any remaining energy I had at the end of the day, has resulted in a slow start. I’m still adding plants as the days progress, and I have to admit that for once I didn’t go into the season with a well-crafted plan.

I had the usual abundance of seed packets, and even picked up a few more that displayed photos which struck my fancy… But, the visions of color

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Nature cuts garden down to size

The weather. It can definitely do damage to a fledgling garden.

But, before we talk about that, let me take you back a couple weeks… When I looked out at the overabundance of seedlings (in my zeal I used about 150 peat pellets) I’d planted for this season’s garden I thought I may have gone a little overboard.

Nature, however, has a way of leveling things out. Torrential rains hit Chicago a few days later, which had me flashing on a scene from the old movie, “Tammy and the Bachelor,” in which the Debbie Reynolds character scurries about in a downpour, Read the rest of this entry »

The garden started without me: spontaneous blooms are the first of season

I’ve been slow to get my sprouts into the garden, what with waiting out the weather and other distractions. Apparently, though, the garden decided it wouldn’t wait for me.

Despite the fact that I pretty much build my garden on annuals because I don’t expect anything sitting in plastic planters on an exposed balcony, enduring the harsh Chicago winter and winds, to regenerate — I’ve been pleasantly surprised in recent days…

Things started to sprout spontaneously in the Read the rest of this entry »

Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme – and sweet potatoes?

It’s 5 p.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I’m happy to say that I’ve just clipped fresh herbs from my balcony garden to use in preparing dinner — parsley, sage, rosemary and, yes, thyme.

And I’d say the holiday arrives just in the nick of time, since the forecast has temps dipping precipitously tonight and I’m not sure the garden will last past the next few days.

As I’ve got more preparation to do in the kitchen, I just wanted to briefly share with you some of the 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 »