CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for Herbs

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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Spreading the word about urban agriculture, sustainability

I’ve been bad. Slow to blog and busy… So busy, in fact, that I’ve just barely been able to keep up with all the watering.

(You know you’ve been swamped when the postman has to call you to come down to clean out your mailbox! Such was the case with me a week or so back.)

But, I plan on using what remains of the Chicago garden season to make up for lost time.

Deliciously, my days of harvesting have arrived and as you can see here I’ve got lemon cucumber Read the rest of this entry »

Seed obsession: it grows on you

In the future (very distant, I hope) someone will be going through the basement of my last known residence and they’ll come across box upon box, filled to overflowing with packets of seeds. Pleased to make your acquaintance, I’m a hoarder.

It all starts innocently enough: I’ll see a pretty, colorful picture adorning a seed pack online or at the local garden store that I just can’t resist. …Or perhaps I’ll succumb to a two-for-one sale.

I always have every intention of planting the seeds that season, but when all is said and done I realize Read the rest of this entry »

Easy green tips that small-space urban gardeners can embrace

Talk about tough love: This past weekend I came across a cautionary essay on purchasing Valentine’s Day flowers.

The writer, bless his green heart, viewed the arguably commercial holiday through the prism of factory farms. It wasn’t a pretty picture.

But even those of us trying to be increasingly environmentally conscious might have found it difficult to go cold turkey and give up that sentimental bouquet.

If you weren’t quite able to wrap your head (or your arms) around the idea this year, take heart, there are other ways to up your green quotient Read the rest of this entry »

Tomatoes indoors? Plants keep producing despite relocation

DSC01025About a week or so ago when a freeze warning was announced I finally gave up the garden, leaving my summer pride and joy on the balcony to suffer the chilling winds of the changing seasons.

Some of the sturdy herbs I left out in hopes they’ll last till Thanksgiving when I can fold parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme into the traditional dishes.

But the basils, jalapeno and my fancy leaf geranium were pulled inside to be turned into pesto, pickled peppers and a favored house plant. Harvesting and saving a thing or two is pretty much a part of my yearly garden ritual, but I did 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 »