By Lydia Krupinski

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A couple of months ago my husband David and friend Sarah attended a workshop on urban gardening and local foods hosted by the group Transition Rogers Park. Thea Carlson of Angelic Organics led a demonstration on how to garden in an urban environment. She demonstrated DIY compost bins and shared her experiences on growing in the city. Victoria Anderson of Gethsemene Garden Center led a Q&A on starting your own container garden and gave practical advice on how to reap an abundant harvest with limited space.

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Inspired by the workshop, this past weekend David and I set upon our first urban veggie garden expedition. We had to consider our limited space as apartment dwellers and limited light. Window boxes seemed practical as they would allow for easy monitoring and the most sun exposure. When choosing planters, my initial thought was to go ceramic, but after considering the bulk and cost, we opted for planters made from post-consumer plastic that would fit snuggly onto our window sills.

On a cool Saturday afernoon, with our hobo cart and Boston Terrier in tow, David and I took a long walk to Gethsemene in Andersonville where we were met by a flurry of procrastinating urban gardeners like ourselves. Overwhelmed by the selection, David and I found a familiar face among the crowd. Victoria, from the Transitions workshop, was there to help novice gardeners like us put together their first gardens. With her advice we selected a variety of plants that we could use in our favorite recipes.

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Our final purchase included organic potting mix, Mojito Mint, Cilantro, Chivies, Basil, Lemon Balm, Green Onions, a Lettuce Mix and German Chamomile. To add a touch of color, Victoria suggested we alternate between the greens and Violas. These adorable edible purple and white flowering plants added the aesthetic edge we desired for our first urban garden.

After rolling our way home, David and I eagerly plunged our hands into the dirt to assemble our container garden. Delighted by the results, we look forward to growing delicious foods with which to feed friends and family.

If you’re interested in planting your first urban edible garden, here’s a website that can help you along the way: Urban Gardening Help.

If you would like to share your urban gardening experiences for future posts, e-mail your thoughts and photos to sproutchicago@gmail.com.

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