garden

Growing Goodies on Our Balcony

On a dreary day in May (Chicago has had plenty of dreary spring days), I ventured out to the newly opened City Grange garden center to find what I could grow on my balcony.

When we moved into this apartment last summer, I did not make an attempt to grow anything beyond some flowers, but this year I wanted to try growing vegetables and herbs. Even after taking a small space gardening class at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I was not entirely sure where to start.

Luckily, City Grange is there to help people like me figure it all out. Unlike Home Depot or other garden centers where it is next to impossible to find an associate, and then an associate that actually knows what they are talking about, at City Grange I was immediately greeted and offered assistance. And boy did I need it!

I explained what kind of sun I get, what floor we are on, that we don’t have a hose, and how much space we actually have to grow. After some discussion I left with:

  • Romaine
  • Garlic Chives
  • Kale/Red Kale
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Sorrel
  • Calendula
  • Strawberry
  • Milkweed

Plants 5

I also left with potting mix, seaweed fertilizer, and probably the greatest find of all, a pig watering can.

Not all of my plants were meant for human eating. Milkweed is an important food source for monarch butterflies. I also planted the calendula 1. because they are pretty and 2. because I needed a cross pollinator for my strawberry plant.

My planting vessels ranged from one reused pot from last year, two new self-watering pots from Target, and an upcycled metal pot and basin I got at a garage sale for $3. I drilled some holes into the pot and basin and they were ready to go!

Plants 4

After some time, my little plant babies started to get acclimated to their new home and started growing big and strong (except for the garlic chives, they are not feeling it).

Plants 2

I got my first calendula flower, which looks like a little marigold and a bloom on my strawberry plant.

Plants 3

The cilantro, mint, and oregano have been prolific and I am often harvesting almost every week. I have been drying the oregano and also using it fresh.

plants 1

Almost two months later my plants have been doing amazing, except those darn garlic chives. I have had fresh romaine and sorrel salads, kale in my smoothies, and fresh cilantro on tacos!

This experience has been much better than when I tried to grow herbs from seeds. If you are in the Chicago area, I highly recommend checking out City Grange!

Day of Firsts: Spring & Seedlings

Happy first day of spring!

Our baby herbs are now just over one week old and sprouting like crazy.

baby herbs1

The basil, chives, and microgreens have all sprouted and we are waiting on the spinach and mint to make their first appearance.

baby herbs2

Starting to Sow: An Apartment Herb Garden

We are finally sick of buying copious amounts of cilantro and basil to never use it all. So we decided to start growing our own.

I have a history of killing plants, so I am a bit concerned about how this will end up. Below is the photographic evidence of 2 of my plants that had untimely deaths. Rest in peace, my sweet plants.

Since this is our first attempt at growing our own food for consumption, we decided to take a cautious approach and not get too crazy about it. We bought a little greenhouse that will grow 36 plants (we made the assumption that some would not survive). After joking that we were going to grow corn and watermelons in our tiny apartment, we settled on the herbs and vegetables below.

  • 2 types of basil
  • Microgreens
  • Chives
  • Spearmint
  • Spinach

herbs

We sowed 2-3 seeds in each peat pellet, with each herb getting its own row.

baby herbs

Day 1, 3/12/17

Now we have to wait until the seeds sprout. Then, we remove the dome and place the seedlings in a sunny spot. Once we have full leaves, we will transplant our little babies into some bigger pots.

Stay tuned!