My Great Outdoors: Margaret's 2-Balcony Kitchen Garden

Name: Margaret Location: Chicago, IL Type of space: Wooden balcony Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: I fell in love with this apartment because it has two balconies, a cooler cement one on the north side, and a sunny wooden one on the south side. The view from the south deck is of a lovely backyard next door, and then a park beyond that. Way in the distance is the Sears Tower and the Trump Tower, which remind me what city I live in! It's been cool and rainy so far this summer, but on nice days I sit outside, and every day I check on the plants. Kitchen gardening has always been important to me, and we are growing as much as we can in containers: two types of basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, dill, cilantro, chives, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and cucumber.How did you create it? We started the garden on a smaller scale last year, but this year were much more systematic about it. I bought groups of plastic pots in coordinating colors, so that there would be a theme, but not all the pots would be exactly the same. For the big plants, we constructed our own self-irrigating grow boxes out of Rubbermaid tubs and old plastic dairy containers. They are not beautiful, but as my giant tomato plant attests, they are functional.

The two things I most disliked about my outdoor space last year was no light and only having furniture that had been rescued from alleys. Since there was no outlet, I used solar powered lights and a battery powered lantern. While I'm proud of having recycled so many pieces that were trash, I have reached a compromise between free furniture and nice looking furniture. The alley furniture is still out there, but much of it has been repurposed into plant stands and trellises. But to make the space more lovely and functional, I bought an outdoor table and chairs. They fold flat, and will come in over the winter.

Recommended store, site, product or resource? Most products came from Target. I also love the outdoor pieces at CB2.

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