Tips for getting the most out of your urban garden
By Stephanie Somers
Jon and Monique Tunney are two savvy urbanites that know how to make the most of their garden in the city. Their condo has a west-facing back porch that’s great for sunsets, but also growing plants. For the past nine years they have grown everything from heirloom tomatoes to banana peppers to swiss chard. And pick any herb; they’ve grown it! They shared with us some of the things they’ve learned over the years.
Replant to maximize your crop
The Tunneys say that they typically grow more than they need on purpose. Why? Consider letting some plants go to seed and you can replant them for a second time. So even if you have a small space, you may get two harvests in one year, yielding more food. Also, consider saving some of the seeds for planting next year. They have gotten so good at it that they don’t even need to purchase seeds in the spring!
Beauty and function unite
You love hanging out on your porch, not just growing things on it. So you might be thinking, “Can I plant my urban garden and still have room for some colorful flowers to look at?” Yes! While you can always mix in a pot of flowers here and there, consider planting flowers and vegetables together in the same pot. Beautiful and functional!
Summer labor, Winter reward
Did you know all this work in the summer can make a cold Chicago winter seem brighter? One of the Tunneys’ favorite herbs to plant is Stevia, a natural sweetener with no calories and no carbs. Save some of your Stevia and mint at the end of the summer. Then crush the dried leaves together to use as a loose tea. That should keep you warm all winter long and dreaming of next summer’s harvest.