CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for container_garden

Inside out: go with a seamless flow from interior to garden

Wrought iron chair adds whimsy.

A wrought iron chair used to add elevation and whimsy plays off similar interior elements.

Today was magnificent! Sunny, 80 degrees, with the softest of breezes playing across my balcony. Gone was the icy chill that has been hidden in the winds of recent days.

Chimes for feng shui

Chimes for feng shui

Sprouts, small plants, and my tabby sunned themselves outside, and as if on cue, I got an email from Burpee saying that the remainder of my plant order was being shipped and would arrive in two days. The danger of frost has past. At last.

With tonight’s low temperature forecast at a nice 60 degrees, I think that for the first time, I’ll leave things out for the duration. Except for the cat, of course. I’ve begun to envision being able to finally sit  Read the rest of this entry »

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Seeds of time: a couple of fast starters for slowpoke gardeners

Nasturtium seeds are large and they sprout quickly.

Nasturtium seeds sprout quickly, so they'll make up the time lost if you procrastinate.

Winter blew out of Chicago a few nights ago with thunderous exultation. And the rain rained down. The next day temperatures reached 80. Of course it’s cooled off a bit since, but there is the definite feeling that the worm has turned (yes, a pun for you in-ground gardeners).

Even Burpee is on board. Three of the plants I ordered from them arrived on the very day that temperatures soared. So, container gardeners start your engines… we’re just three short weeks or so away from the time when we can introduce our plants to the great outdoors.

If you haven’t started any seeds yet and are lamenting the fact that because you’ve procrastinated you’ll have to spend more money and buy all your plants from a nursery, fear not… Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve got the blues… hope it’s not too much of a good thing

Three shades of blue.

Three shades of blue in a past garden. Even more blue varieties will abound this year, punctuated with yellow, green and orange.

In my mind’s eye, the idea of a monochromatic garden is very intriguing, entrancing even. All-white gardens are quite the rage in certain circles, and, with my adoration of blue flowers, I’ve been oh-so tempted to create an all-blue fantasy.

But I think the reality would be far less satisfying than the dream. Recently, a fellow gardener who shares my love of blue said that if she had her druthers, some day she’d plant a garden of blues Read the rest of this entry »

The good earth: last season’s soil may be right for reuse

Someone forgot to tell these sprouts that they shouldn't survive outdoors in containers over the Chicago winter.

Even though this soil has been subjected to the elements, healthy sprouts are popping up.

I love getting my hands dirty. In fact when I open those big bags of rich, fluffy potting soil mix I don’t even bother to wear gloves — despite my manicured fingernails. It is one of those joyful rituals that mark the start of what will hopefully be another rewarding season of container gardening.

But hold on, what about the soil left in the pots from last year? Isn’t it wasteful to just dump all that dirt? Is there any way to recycle it for this season’s planters? These are questions a curious city gardener posed to me recently. And Earth Day Read the rest of this entry »

The color of water and other splashy container gardening secrets revealed

A little water is a wonderful thing. But don't depend on raindrops alone.

A little water is a wonderful thing. But don't depend on raindrops alone to nourish plants.

Armchair sleuth that I am, I jumped at the chance to gather intel when I saw a crew making its way down one of our city streets attending to the splendid hanging baskets Chicago adorns its lamp posts with during summer.

As the magic wand was extended over the baskets I made a discovery that changed the way I would maintain my container plants in the years to come: the water he used … it was, well, BLUE! Maybe that was the secret to success.

From that point forward every other watering lavished on my plants had just the slightest tinge Read the rest of this entry »

Herbs bring on the freshness – and everyone has a favorite

I get a little crazy when it comes to basil, note the pot of the purple variety (top).

I get a little crazy when it comes to my basil (note the pot of the purple variety, top).

I once extended a hand in greeting when making an acquaintance, only to be rebuked by the suspect non sequitur, “Sorry, I have pickle juice on my hand.” Well, it turns out it wasn’t a case of closeted O.C.D., it was just that the gent in question was serious about his dill. He actually made his own pickles, and, indeed, had pickle juice on his hands!

And while I plant dill for use in salads, dips and, of course, to season salmon, I don’t quite share his level of affection for the herb. Basil, however, is 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 »