CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for container garden

Progress report: Hey, there’s actual progress to report!

DSC00467DSC00466DSC00471The 4th of July was the kind of day every garden needs — to my mind, at least once a week or so. It rained all day, not a hard, raucous rain, but a soft and gentle one. A rain that caressed the plants — from leaf to root — encouraging them to new heights.

And, of course, it gave the weary container gardener a day’s reprieve from having to hoist the watering vessel.

By Sunday morning the rain was a misty memory, and by the afternoon I was able to get out on the balcony and take advantage of the last day of the three-day hiatus from workers doing their best Spider-man impressions on the south face of our building.

I surveyed the planters and pots and took stock of what needed to be done to fill in the thin spots. I think I’ve mentioned before that I had extra plants in a flat that I held on to in case I needed to replace Read the rest of this entry »

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Oh, my aching back: More stress than calm in garden this week

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A planter box (top) and tomato pot (above)

Sometimes you have to wonder if your garden is serving you or if you are serving your garden. The rhetorical question reared its head this week as I played musical chairs with my balcony garden plants.

Let me explain: Work is being done to the facade of our building and the dreaded stage was finally slated for my elevation on Tuesday. So, by 3 a.m. that morning I had painstakingly brought in five railing planter boxes, cell packs of flowers that I haven’t yet made room for, and too many clay Read the rest of this entry »

This and that: plant finds, artful secateurs, project updates

DSC00325DSC00339DSC00309There will come a point this summer when the phenomenon of “cooler by the lake” will provide a welcomed reprieve. But for now, when downtown Chicago can’t seem to string together two 70-plus days in a row, it’s not of great comfort.

Meanwhile my sprouts are outside fending for themselves over the cool nights and variably cloudy days. All the rain of late has washed away some of their identifying labels, so figuring out what’s what is going to be a challenge.

Oh well, I never promised you a rose garden. However, I do have a progress report on the projects started inside — plus some new plants and a very chic garden tool — to share with you: Read the rest of this entry »

So many different types of basil, so little time – and space

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The basil seeds sown directly into the large terra cotta pots that will be their summer home have sprouted, despite the cold air that spring hasn’t yet managed to chase away.

So, I’m confident that I’ll have a robust crop for pesto, and all the other fresh dishes the herb enhances, in just a few weeks.

I planted Genovese basil and one that I haven’t tried before — lime basil. In the past, I also added a colorful purple basil plant to my container garden, which at the time seemed quite exotic to me.

However, as the Bard might have said (if he had a taste for the herb): there’s a lot more to basil than Read the rest of this entry »

A sweet, potato project: Lazy, drizzly day perfect for vine time

Sweet potato vine is a staple in my garden.

Sweet potato vine is a staple in my garden; I've already picked up two for my planter boxes.

‘One potato, two potato …’ I was thinking of the children’s rhyme today when I compared two sweet potatoes that had been languishing in my larder since Easter.

One looked much like it did when I bought it, while the other had several sprouts jutting from it — purple sprouts. And, what’s more, a closer examination revealed what looked to be tiny purple leaves extending, in turn, from them.

Dig the tiny purple leaves

Tiny purple leaves jut from the sprouts of my sweet potato.

The garden is great for awakening a sense of wonder. Even if it’s a long time coming. I’ve used sweet potato vine in my planters for several years now, but only recently started to ponder their relationship to, duh, sweet potatoes.

A little online research gave instructions on how Read the rest of this entry »

My friend was in the South of France, and all I got was this bloomin’ photograph

Well, actually, I got several photos of happy herbs with a view of the Mediterranean.

Well, actually, I got several photos of happy herbs with a view of the Mediterranean.

My friend Maureen called me last week from an aerie in the South of France, describing how much I’d appreciate the fact that a balcony, adorned with herbs, wrapped around the length of the place — which, by-the-way, looked out on the Mediterranean. And, of course, the weather was lovely. The photos she took bear witness to these facts.

So here I sit, staring out on a Chicago morning and longing for the Cote D’Azur… And the day when the herbs on my balcony will rival the ones sunning themselves within the friendly confines of this post. Usually, I wait and sow my herb seeds directly into their pots outside when the weather is right. But, a week or so ago I planted a few of them inside using peat pellets and the mini-greenhouse system — just to get a jump on things.

A picture-perfect stuccoed wall at the flat in Villefranche sur Mer.

A picturesque stucco wall flanks the wrap- around balcony at the Villefranche sur Mer flat.

Marjoram, thyme, oregano, sage and spearmint got the advance treatment, while I’ll probably toss my basil seeds directly into their clay pots this week and perch them on a windowsill to sprout. I Read the rest of this entry »

The long and short of it: stagger heights for lush containers

The sweet potato vine is a nice trailing plant for containers.

The sweet potato vine with its big heart-shaped leaves is a nice trailing plant for containers.

You must remember this: the rules of an in-ground garden don’t necessarily apply to your containers. One of the things I’ve learned from studying O.P.P. (Other People’s Planters) is that you really need to pack the plants in somewhat densely to achieve maximum effect.

When I set out my very first flower planter on my balcony some years back I had approximately six small cell packs of marigold spaced over the length of a 36-inch planter.

That’s fine if you’re cultivating a garden in your backyard of perennials and plants that will return Read the rest of this entry »