Big Plans for my Little Urban Garden

Big Plans for my Little Urban Garden

The thunderstorms in Chicago these past few days have been ferocious (what was that last night?) and seemingly endless. But we all know that April showers bring May flowers (and Mayflowers bring pilgrims!) so I, perhaps out of desperation for some warmer, sunny weather, have begun planning my spring garden.

We city dwellers often suffer from lack of outdoor space, but I am lucky to have both a small balcony and a window box for getting my urban gardening on. First and foremost, I have a confession to make and a promise for this year. The confession: the past two years I have been a terrible plant mama, letting a busy schedule interfere with the rather minor TLC my plants needed. The promise: I will water my plants this year. I will. I will. I will.

That out of the way, here’s what I’m thinking… Last year I planted our window box with cocktail herbs (see that post here), which was a lot of fun while the plants still lived. This year, I’m considering a medicinal herbs/tea window box. I have an indoor aloe plant just begging for some fresh outdoor air, and a renewed love of tea thanks to DAVIDsTEA (see that post here). I’m envisioning the aloe as the center plant, surrounding it on either side with camellis sinensis (the tea plant), and then, in the outermost spots, planting a peppermint plant on one side and a chamomile plant on the other.

Like many a Chicago balcony, mine is located at the back of our condo, facing the alley (and other neighbors’ alley-facing balconies). If it’s not too expensive, I’d love to enlist the aid of some screening plants to help block the view. I’ll either get two low, rectangular planters and use bamboo, or two square planters for container loving trees (perhaps the ever blooming gardenia).

I also have three ceramic pots that need to be planted. The medium sized one is always reserved for basil, my favorite herb for summer cooking. The smallest will also be dedicated to herbs: rosemary, chive (still alive from last year – amazing!), and either chervil or, maybe, arugula. The largest will be planted in bright colors, I’m thinking yellow and purple, because I’m tired of this dreary weather and need something cheery. I'll have to see what nurseries are selling this year, but I’m thinking salvia, Jacob’s ladder, yarrow, sundrops, Johnny jump ups, and snap dragons would all work well.

Finally, I’m totally inspired by a picture of a chili pepper plant grown in an olive oil drum that I saw in Isabelle Palmer’s beautiful new book, The Balcony Gardener. I think a chili pepper plant would be so cute (bright colors + edible) as a centerpiece on our patio table.

Chili Plant in Olive Oil Drum

Chili Plant in Olive Oil Drum

Stay turned for pictures once our garden is planted. If you have any tips, or want to share your big (or little) gardening plans, I’d love to hear them!

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