CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

Archive for Isis candy

An Earth Day challenge: grow one item of produce this season

I read an article earlier this week that questioned whether it was cost effective to grow your own food. It listed a ton of supplies needed to begin and suggested balancing the price of those supplies against the price of just purchasing the food outright…

It’s the kind of thing that can discourage a person from getting started, and let me say — as someone who does grow tomatoes and a veggie or two — that you don’t need to tick off a 25-item check list before going gardener. And, you can Read the rest of this entry »

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Tomatoes give one last harvest for the road (and posterity)

DSC00827DSC01031As I cleared away the debris of expired plants from my balcony, I smiled — imagining archaeologists a century from now examining the boards of my deck and finding the fossilized remains of small-fruited heirloom tomatoes that had rolled into crannies and become unwitting players in history.

And next, bring on the anthropologists, to hypothesize about early 21st century urban dwellers and their desperate efforts to secure green space and achieve some small measure of sustainability.

Let me back up a bit in telling this story: About 10 days ago, I went outside to survey the garden since I’d pulled up stakes and called it a wrap for 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 »

Denial: not just a river in Egypt, but thriving in a Chicago garden

DSC00914DSC00927DSC00995It’s pretty obvious that I’ve refused to acknowledge fall’s arrival 10 days ago — even in the face of the horrible weather that’s plagued Chicago this past week.

One day it was gale force winds (actually, I’m not sure how much force needs to be exerted to rate gale, but it was pretty severe); then it was temps that were hard pressed to break 60 degrees; and finally came the chilly, steady rain.

All these signals that the garden’s days are numbered, yet still I’m in that happy state called denial, fueled by the combination of hope and unreasoned belief that tell me there will be — have Read the rest of this entry »

The survivors: three heirloom tomato plants still standing

DSC00838DSC00828DSC00840While reading accounts of bountiful harvests by garden bloggers around the world, I’ve waited patiently, hoping my day would come.

Well, despite the setbacks I’ve faced this year in the cultivation of my small-space balcony garden, I can at last proclaim: I have tomatoes!

Not as many as I anticipated when I began this year’s gardening adventure, but the fact that I was overambitious has perhaps paid off, since half of too much turns out to be quite enough. Wild cherry, rosalita and isis candy heirlooms endured Read the rest of this entry »

Tomato rites of passage: hoops and hoopla as first fruit emerge

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DSC00565The proudest moment for an heirloom tomato parent arrived in recent days with much pomp and circumstance: my plants had graduated to the point where it was time for the ceremonial “presentation of the hoops.”

Hoops being those wire support systems that, when inverted, look like the framework beneath all those crinoline skirts of a century ago.

I’ve learned the hard way that if you wait too long to slip them over the tender stems of your tomatoes you can damage the plants trying to squeeze them in later.

If you haven’t been following the evolution of my Read the rest of this entry »

Lots of places where gardens could take root in cities

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Blue wildflowers suggest there's a garden longing to bloom on this undeveloped site.

There’s a conspicuously vacant lot on my block.

Its original low-rise buildings were razed some time ago in anticipation of the coming of a condominium tower. But that work ground to a halt a few months back — perhaps another casualty of these tough economic times.

Despite the building boom of the last 10 years, it’s not the only undeveloped plot of land I spied while driving through my downtown neighborhood. There was even one that seemed to be spontaneously becoming a garden, with pretty blue flowers popping up on its perimeter.

I immediately switched into “what if” mode: What if Read the rest of this entry »