Proof that you're an urban gardener...

romando(9b/10a , sunset 17)May 26, 2006

People have been known to walk off with your plants, container and all

Your patio has a tiered effect, and we're not talking about slopes

You've witnessed a drive by shooting (really, I'm not kidding-- at Annie's Annuals) at your favorite nursery

Your second favorite nursery has parking labeled 'police only' (!)

Anybody have any other additions?

Amanda 'romando'

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romando(9b/10a , sunset 17)

I should also add:

Any container larger than the one gallon nursery sleeves is considered prime real estate...

My kitchen is easily twice the size of my gardening space...

There is only enough room for my preschooler to blow bubbles outside. If she stands still, that is...

Amanda 'romando'

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 12:03AM
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On the mean streets of urban living, your front yard isn't a place to show off your gardening skills, but instead is best filled with inexpensive, common, easy to propagate plants that no one will bother and you won't faint if they get stepped on.

Also, urban gardeners choose their battles wisely and make a path for the mailman to cut through the yard instead of being angry at him for stepping through the plants. I do this for him because he seems like a truly nice man.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2006 at 7:24PM
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Some of your favorite tools come from the kitchen -- or the kids toy department!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 2:44PM
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janetr(Ottawa USDA 4a)

LOL, gardening with kitchen implements... Boy can I relate!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 4:17PM
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Hmmm, let's see:

1. "Weeding" includes pulling out candy wrappers, cig butts, crumpled take-out menus, and pooper-scooping.

2. Your garden ornaments include chains and cables on your nicer containers.

3. You've woken up to a hole in the planting bed, and it's not gophers . . .


    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 4:45PM
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You can admire a half-dozen other gardens from the comfort of your own.

You spend the better part of a year with an ugly dirt pile out front because the condo board can't agree on what to do wtih the parkway.

And the kids toys, kitchen implements thing is so true. Guilty on both counts!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 1:06PM
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1. You get excited when you see a rabbit.
2. Buying deer-proof plants is the least of your worries.
3. The eventual height and width of a plant, however, is a major consideration.
4. You dont have problem soil; you have debris.

Btw, I totally agree with so many of these. Wrappers and bags regularly get tangled up in our japanese blood grass. Gardening with kids toys...I used my daughters sand shovel just this week to plant some seeds. And after all of our patio furniture was stolen a few years ago, we installed video cameras and chained our new furniture to the patio (which leads back to gardening with plastic kids toys - those at least never get stolen!).

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 1:26PM
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You try to think of graffiti as modern day hieroglyphs.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 8:47AM
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Amino_X(z7b AR)

Some of your favorite tools come from the kitchen -- or the kids toy department!

LOL! Yep, that's what I was going to say.

1. When you tell the kids to save the insert from the "Chips Ahoy!" because it makes a perfect water tray for peat pots.

2. When you use your Tomato plants as a trellis for your Cucumber plants.

3. When you warn your downstairs neighbor before spraying Serenade.

4. When you have a bicycle chain on your garden hose.

5. When you complain about the high cost of tomatoes then spend 5x more (per pound) at Home Depot for Peat Moss and Miracle Grow. (but that's okay, I can use some of this stuff again next year right?)

6. When you can't fire up the barbecue grill without killing half your garden.

7. When you finally give up on the barbecue grill altogether and plant it up with impatiens.

8. When you start asking questions like "Can I over-winter my Bell-Pepper plants indoors?"

9. When getting to your garden involves someone holding the ladder.

10. Your reduced solely to "Patio" varities!

Best Wishes

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 4:42AM
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Amino_X(z7b AR)

One I thought of after I posted this.

11. When you have a Rake, Shovel, Hoe and other gardening tools stored in your hall closet.

Best Wishes

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 4:46AM
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People periodically park in your garden.

Every year we have a big neighborhood festival that attracts half of Central Ohio. Parking is at a premium, and the alleyway is crammed with cars. Amazingly, some of the flowers and vines growing in my alley bed manage to survive ComFest!

Of course, we've also had drunks pull up and park in the yard itself. Once it was a stranger, who gouged out half the lawn in an effort to get away. Another time it was a firend of my upstairs neighbor's, who simply got out of the car and passed out on the porch.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 4:10PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

I only put plants on the front porch that I know I can live without.

In 5 years of gardening I've removed several hundred pounds (possibly over a ton) of rocks, broken bricks, concrete chunks, rusty nails, broken glass, and various other items from the soil.

I finally got a tetanus booster because I kept cutting myself on broken glass while gardening.

I once found a hypodermic needle in the alley behind my house.

I'm proud to live in a (nearly) rat-free neighborhood.

And yes, somebody was shot (and killed) on the street almost in front of my house last summer. :o(

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 1:44PM
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When you cram all your fav plants on a small patio squeeze in a table and chair and enjoy a cup of tea . You dont hear the fire engines nor the kids in the neighbor's
house. It is just you and your lovely small urban garden.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 5:55PM
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blackswamp_girl(6a NEOhio)

1) When you weed your front yard at night so you can enjoy the garden in relative solitude for once.

2) When you see urban-nesting hawks instead of country-dwelling owls sniping the "customers" at your birdfeeders.

johnnieb, I don't think I'm in the "pounds of" measurements yet, but I always wonder: Just where does all of that glass come from? How did it get to my back yard--not even close to the street? I find so many broken pieces of old canning jars back there... mixed in among the small lumps of coal... that I really do wonder if a major klutz lived in my house during its infancy!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 12:52PM
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mea2214(z5 Chicago)

- You have to water before dusk or risk getting held up (yep, that happened to me this year).
- you constantly scan every alley for containers, wood for trellises, or discarded live plants.
- you learn the fine art of cantilevering over walls to get a few extra inches of space.
- squirrels eat all your sunflowers
- you're happy that you have rats, who don't eat your plants, instead of those suburbanite rabbits!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 3:01PM
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paradisi(Sunshine Coast)

Doesn't it feel good to live in Australia.... drive by shootings at your nursery??

police only parking at your nursery??

Whoo hoo - - (touching wood at the moment) the worst we've had is a junkie using our yard as an escape route from a purse snatching -and the dog and man traps will get him if he ever tries that again - or a dog doing doodoos on the driveway

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 9:56PM
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* Watering requires a series of complicated dance moves that only you can manage with the can.

* You know most of your neighbors from the tops of their heads only, and new haircuts can trip you up into believing someone new has moved in.

* The only pests you worrry about can fly.

* When doves nest in your mint.

* Your plants are wired to the patio to prevent high winds from blowing them off on to passerbys on the street below.

* When its easier to just tie you tomato plants to the balcony railingthan buying an actual stake.

Just a few more to add to the list.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 7:13PM
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The plants stolen from the front porch cracked me up! I have lost so many potted plants due to that. So, I bought a huge cement urn that is too heavy to lift!

I have one:
You are happy when the urban hawk hunts the pigeons at your bird feeder.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 3:11PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

Some of these are quite funny yet so true. My front yard is very small but I don't dare put any "valuable" lawn ornaments or plants. Actually, my feeling is to keep most of that stuff in the backyard, where I can sit and enjoy it. There's a few "stand out" gardeners in my area, but for the most part people on my street aren't really into gardening beyond the basic lawn and a strip of marigolds in front of the house.

Proof that you're an urban gardener...

-Well, I can pretty well water my entire yard with my 50 foot long garden hose.

-My lawn sprinkler has to be set on the lower setting as to not water the street.

-Good soil is at a premium so this year I am experimenting growing carrots in a flower pot (it actually looks quite nice and practical too).

- you have to trim your trees severely each year else you'll be "forested" in.

- people tend to pick flowers off my rose bush as they walk down the front sidewalk.

Great topic,

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 6:57PM
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You do "guerilla" planting on the fence accross the street.

You marvel at the ailanthus (the "Tree" that Grows in Brooklyn, signifying poverty) now the only thing able to grow in the superfund site.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 4:39PM
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The mockingbird on the telephone pole in you neighbor's backyard is doing a car alarm. Really accurately, even the eyh, eyh, eyh, eyh part. And you lie in bed at 5A.M., feeling guilty for wanting to kill a bird.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 11:25PM
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Lynn Nevins

You have to buy lots of plants online, because your options for finding exactly what you want in your immediate area is very slim.

When you buy heavy supplies like mulch etc., it must all be transported home in a taxi.

Behind your bedskirt and under your bed are plastic storage containers of potting soil, vermiculite, etc.

As you think about how pretty a potted tree would look on your frontdoor stoop, you realize that you'd have to first get a heavy clay pot (the weight would make it less enticing to steal), then slide a chain through the empty pot, through one of the drainage holes, and then secure the chain to one of the wrought iron poles on your stoop. THEN you could begin adding the potting soil and the plant itself.

A future project is to weed around the tree in front of your apartment building, put up some type of fencing, and then plant some flowers.

And lastly, you know you're an urban gardener when the cinderblock walls of your patio/yard are topped with a motley assortment of barbed wire, old wire fencing, etc.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 4:10PM
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Lynn Nevins

oh, I just now read everybody else's posts and was reminded of some more...
There's no outdoor water connection for a garden hose, so I have to water all my plants by repeatedly schlepping from my kitchen sink back out to the patio with a watering can.

There's no light fixture out back, so when I have cookouts on my patio with my portable charcoal grill, I have to light the area with lots of candles.

I DID get excited when for my first time, I saw a RACCOON along the top of my patio walls. (I've NEVER seen a raccoon in Manhattan, but after doing some research I came to learn Manhattan has highest concentration of them in all of NY State. But I guess cuz they are nocturnal, most Manhattanites have no idea they are around, and when their garbage etc is picked apart, they probably attribute it to rats or feral cats!)

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 4:29PM
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jessiac_3(5 WI)

Yippee, you should try attaching a small garden hose to your sink when you water your plants. I have like a 50 footer coiled hose that I bought at a local hardware store, and it attaches to my kitchen sink. Since it's a coiled one, it doesn't get tangled like regular hoses do. I know I'm not really an urban gardner, but a balcony one, but much of the situations are the same (limited space, etc.) Anyway, it's just a suggestion, so you don't have to make so many trips with a watering can! (That's why I got mine!)

:o) Jessica

P.S. Similar to your excitement with the raccoon, I was in shock when I saw a hummingbird by the window when I was at work one day. Since I live down the street from where I work, I plan to try to attract hummingbirds to my balcony next summer!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2006 at 9:05AM
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Lynn Nevins

Thanks Jessica. I did in fact try that a few years ago... I got a hose, and some type of "fitting". But the fitting didn't connect exactly right with my sink faucet, and water would "spray" out from the faucet. So I pretty much gave up. And trying to get any assistance from the guys at the local hardware stores is futile. They are clueless. :--( I don't have a man in my life to help me, nor are there really any neighbors I could ask to help.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 12:02PM
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Yippee, My friend has a hose I found interesting. It has a mouth that gets gradually larger w/concentric rings on the inside for friction, looking like a rubber funnel, and she claims you force it onto a spout, it finds the right spot and dosen't leak. She, unfortunately, has owned it for about 15 years and dosen't know where it came from. I'm going to look around for one for my watering situation (bathroom, through window, onto roof). If I find it in N.Y.C., I'll let you know where.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 1:19AM
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By the way:

There was a raccoon on my friends' porch in Windsor Terrace (near Prospect Park). Daytime, just hanging around. They thought it must be rabid to come right over and didn't know what to do for it, so they called Animal Control. I wished they hadn't told me. Then I wished they hadn't shown me the picture they took before it was captured. Sad.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 1:37AM
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When looking for a new apartment, you refuse to look at ones with North-facing balconies.

You always ask about the load-bearing capacity of the balcony.

PS--Someone reminded me to VOTE tommorrow, so I'm passing it on.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2006 at 7:16PM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

The whole neighborhood gathers to discuss a woodchuck sighting!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 4:31PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

when you are able to cram more than 350 cultivars of fruiting plants into 750 sq ft of yard and have only 45 planting holes and have them all produce fruits various times of the year.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 11:19PM
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lori_londonuk(zone 8-9)

* When you're weeding your front garden, the job inevitably includes collecting other people's dropped litter - chocolate wrappers, junk food containers and the occasional empty can of beer.

* The wildlife (in urban Britain) mostly consists of urban foxes, grey squirrels, and rats. You are pleased to see the foxes - they look cute and help to keep the rat population down.

* When choosing wall shrubs, you gravitate to the thorny types which will help to keep burglars from scaling your garden wall.

* If you go out into your garden after dusk, you not only trigger your own security lighting, but also the lights in your neighbour's garden.

* If your neighbour plants a prolific self-seeder, it WILL turn up in your garden. You may see this as a good thing or a bad thing, depending on their taste.

* You're more likely to plant some exotics which are borderline tender, and less likely give them extra winter protection. This is because the 'urban heat island' effect makes your climate slightly warmer than the surrounding suburban and rural areas.

* As your garden is small, you need to strike a balance between secluded privacy and the risk of creating too much shade.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 6:12AM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

I have trouble with that balance. I just dug up my favorite rose, because she outgrew her spot, and became so large she shaded the pond and was encroaching on the pathway.

3 ft by 3ft! My aunt fanny! 6 x 12 and suckering like all get out!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 2:27PM
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lori_londonuk(zone 8-9)

Wolfe, I accidentally increased the shade in my garden by planting a Lonicera japonica over a rather ugly east facing fence, which has turned into a rampant monster. On the other hand, it's so good for wildlife such as bees and moths in summer, I can't really begrudge the fact that it's coming out at least 1ft from the fence and 2ft at the top, making that area shadier. I've been less sympathetic to an overgrown, unhealthy evergreen viburnum I inherited on a south-facing wall, though - since that came out of the ground, I've rediscovered light in that spot.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 5:38AM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

I do find that the "eventual size" limits on the plant tags are unrealistically small. Without expection, I get about a 50% increase over that size. And I'm in zone 6!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 11:04AM
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The width of some garden "beds" is measured in inches!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 9:10PM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

That spiderwort is lovely!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 9:15AM
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"Weeding" involves picking cigarette butts out of your containers.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 11:43AM
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jflo(CA z9)

Agreed - weeding includes trash, toys, condoms (eew!), and you never know what else. Although I did once mysteriously find in my lettuce (in the bed NOT next to the sidewalk) a mysterious note that said "estes bien" (spanish for "be well"). I'm not sure if that was the lettuce talking to me or an amused neighbor.

Never had the pots walk away though - perhaps because although my neighborhood is urban, pretty much everyone has stuffed in as many plants as they can. Or perhaps because there was a small wall on my front porch that partially covered them. Now I'm back confined to mostly a balcony.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 6:55PM
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Gawd, I can relate to much of this! I had hanging flowers in front of my apartment when I lived in a seedy area of the city years ago that were stolen. I was heartbroken because I just bought them. So I bought more and chained and locked them to eye-bolts. That showed the crack heads who shopped at my neighbors to keep their mitts off!

You know your an urban gardener when you have flowers potted on the ground, in window boxes, in planters hanging over deck/porch railings, hanging wherever there is a hook and even bagged and hanging on the walls and/or fence. Ya gotta think outside the box when space is limited!

A few more ... you get excited when a bird nests in one of your hanging flowers. You don't put bird seed out because it attracts very large rats (and these don't have cute bushy tails). You get freaked out when you see a hummingbird because you think it is a giant bee. You can't have an open compost bin (or the health department will be knocking on your door).

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 10:08PM
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Oops, I thought of another one! You don't do rock gardens in your front yard because you don't want one of the rocks being used by a thief to break into your home.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 3:12AM
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Carrie B(6B/7A)

You turn down perfectly nice, free plants because eventually they will grow larger than your garden.
You want to buy & tear down the rowhome next door, because the house footprint alone will more than double the size of your garden.
The two compost bins you can't part with consume an obscene percentage of your real estate.
The removal of one euonymus vine increases your garden space by 20%.
You find 40 oz. empty beer bottles tossed behind the boxwood in the sidewalk whiskey-barrel planter.
Neighbors tell you you've got a forest on the sidewalk - and you realize it might be the closest they've ever come to one.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 8:42PM
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Here's a couple:

The neighbors in the apartment above consider your antics in the garden below to be prime time viewing.

When you pick seeds and plants by the words, Compact, Bush, Spacesaving, Dwarf, Climbing, Trellising, or Upright.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 11:53PM
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slashy walk out the front door to grab chilis for your dinner and the entire plant is GONE!

This is my first serious plant-theft in my urban front garden, and I'm a little distraught. I've been quite zen about people sampling my tomatoes, zucchinis & herbs, but to take the entire plant? That's just rude.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 6:43AM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

I haven't lost an entire plant, but I have yet to pick a ripe apple from the columnar apples beside the back alley. It never fails: When I decide today is the day they are ripe enough, so does somebody else.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 2:20PM
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spoonplayer(z6 PA)

When the workers at the garment factory come to the window to watch you garden on their breaks!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 11:22AM
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lori_londonuk(zone 8-9)

I'm tempted to say that you know you're an urban gardener when you have to colour coordinate your plants not to clash with the yellow 'serious crime boards' as there have been a few around my way recently. Thankfully none immediately outside my house yet *touches wood*.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 5:02PM
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gonativegal(zone 5a)

When they take you to court (twice) saying that your beautiful (and manicured) garden out front is attracting rats!

Most of the rats! are in Town Hall.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 3:59PM
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when you find marijuana growing between your tomatoes (and you didn't plant it!)
we used to have the most evil ghetto squirrels who would bite the heads off of sunflowers, the watermelons off of stalks, and the tomatoes off plants, and drag them all up on my balcony to taunt me.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 11:49PM
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When you plant mandevilla to block out the view of your neighbors in the building across the street from your condo.
When your neighbor downstairs complains about her clothes getting wet every time you water your balcony garden. when you can enjoy the beauty of growing something, eating what you grow and appreciating the sunset, through the satellite dishes of course, all the while pretending that your are in the south of France or Southern Italy

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 3:48PM
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1) Hanging clothes out to dry Creates shade in your very sunny garden.

2) Chain Link Fence becomes a trellis for your Cucumbers.

3) Mocking Birds singing like car alarms.

4) My neighbors Morning Glory has become a weed.

5) Turning Soil over in the spring yields 20 or so Peanuts Hidden there by that f*^$%ng Squirrel

6) Stray Cats using my Mulched containers as litter boxes.

7)You see seeds or plants that are way out of your space limits and think "how can I grow that in my yard" example of this is I'm growing corn in a tote container this year in a yard that is 85% cement.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 11:14AM
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We've had tools stolen from our front yard. Someone took our hose after disconnecting it from the faucet in broad daylight. Someone disconnected one of our not-so-cheap sprinklers and took it with them. Now I hand water or lay the hand sprinkler on the ground to water just the roots of individual plants/shrubs while I sit and watch.

It's almost a full-time job picking up trash that people toss in our yard. Even had next-door neighbors that dumped trash bags in our bushes on the side of the house that isn't being used and is overgrown with volunteer bushes. Wanted to plant stuff there but it's always too daunting to think of the amount of work involved. We tried when we first moved in and the irises and volunteer trees refused to be tamed by repeated rototilling.

I do have a bunch of pots out front, all containing my favorite flowers, daylillies. They have been out there for three years and I still count them to be sure they are all there.

I'm actually happy to grow thorny plants because it discourages the cats and dogs. When I trim the thorny blackberries, I put the trimmings around the edge of the yard. Cats and dogs that get a few thorns in their paws don't come near my yard as often.

One dog that lives directly across the street is often allowed out when the gate is open. The dog heads directly over to my yard to pee. I watched to see where he went each time and discovered why my wiegela probably didn't flower last year. This year, I planted three rose bushes in the middle of the path he takes to pee on my weigelas. Unfortunately, he also pees on my young Adam's needle yucca which aren't big enough for the sharp-edged leaves to deter him.

I didn't realize that my new raspberry would have thorns. I was quite delighted.

People actually have the nerve to park in front of your house, roll down the window and toss the dirty diaper they removed from their baby in your yard with me standing nearby and drive off. Or they open the door and toss a beer can. Now I'm suspicious every time people are sitting in their car in front. If I see them eating fast food, I go in and get my husband if he is home. When he's outside, they don't throw the trash in my yard as often.

With food prices going up, I am glad I didn't plant too much of our edibles out front. The strawberries are mostly hidden. I think the thorns on the blackberries and raspberries will deter people getting too much of those berries.

I had to replace my raspberry bushes three times because the cats kept digging and pooping in the spots I chose for them. Finally, I ordered more expensive and bigger plants that are doing well.

My neighbors trimmed my hedges, with no mercy. When they finally started to grow back and provide a little shade for us and the plants that require shade that I'd already planted, they took out some of the shrubs by cutting them all the way to the ground. They do this while I'm away at work and I get to come home to a butchered hedge. Each time I tried to talk to them, they don't speak English. I know this is destruction of property and I could call the police, but I didn't because there were different families living there and I figured they could cause a lot more damage while I was away at work. They have now moved out.

Because of the destruction of my hedge, it left wide gaps that the mailman and those posting flyers could walk right into my yard and trample the small flowers and the newly planted Washington Hawthorns. Finally, I decided to plant as many thorny plants as possible in the gaps (My thorny blackberries deter a lot of people who want to take a shortcut through my yard and I don't think I should give up space to allow them a path when there's a perfectly useable sidewalk.) so my plants and flowers don't get trampled. Until the thorny plants get big enough, it looked like a useable path in the wintertime so I had to pile up sticks and limbs there to block off the gaps and put markers around my plants because I see footprints in the snow and know they still take that shortcut.

I don't dare pick up any trash from my yard without gloves on.

The squirrels watch my every move.

It's hard to get up to water my plants in the mornings before work because the neighbors are often having loud parties in the summer until it's almost time for me to get up for work. Last summer, I didn't sleep for almost two weeks straight before I finally went outside and asked them (over the fence) how they could be so inconsiderate when people are sleeping night after night. I got a very drunken "Sorry" and then they tried to be quiet. This is a neighbor that must work from home or doesn't work, has parties all throughout the week and weekends and I don't see him stir before noon most days. This year, I'm going to start calling the police during the week.

I'm trying to be organic but wonder if I ever truly can be since I see the neighbors all around me using chemicals or hiring someone to do their lawns that use chemicals.

I'd rather spend my energy on my flowers for the butterflies and bees and edibles but have to be vigilant about the weeds because they have fines if your weeds are too high, yet dandelions grow rampantly and quite tall in many yards. And some neighbors complain about ornamental grasses.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 6:26PM
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Love this thread. I can relate to many and have a few to add.

You become an expert on using the chain-link fence as a trellis.

You can't use wire tomato cages because they will be taken by scrap-metal collectors.

Saturday nights mean that people from the 'burbs park in front of your house, empty their ashtrays onto your lawn, and leave a pile of empty cans and bottles (why do suburbanites think that the city is one big garbage pit?)

You consider planting stuff in the neighbor's unused dirt patch.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 1:15PM
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deewah(5 + 6)

When you tell your neighbor that you want to start a herb garden he pulls a "nickel bag" out of his pocket and starts searching for seeds.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 10:03AM
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The scraper thing is SO GODDAMNED TRUE! As a result, my tomatoes are caged with sturdy sticks and pretty craft fabrics I ripped into strips.


You plant in the small patch of soil left open to allow the connections to the gas meters.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 9:33PM
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jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)

1. You've found two random cats wandering between your plants and not thought much of it.

2. You've explained to all the neighbors that the grow lights in the window are not because you're growing marijuana. But you're not above reading pot-growing websites or shopping at hydroponics stores with beaded jimmy hendrix curtains, because those people are awesome at maximizing space.

3. Your yard is the only one on the block that has any dirt in it

4. You get really (really) excited when you see an earthworm. You may call your friends about it. They are not impressed.

5. You have seriously pondered building a raised bed garden on the top of your car/van/rowhouse. You wonder whether a roof rack would adequately secure a planter.

6. You see possible planting areas everywhere you go. There's a drop ceiling frame at work, and you think, 'I could grow cucumbers in there . . .' It makes you slightly upset to see fluorescent tube lights that don't have plants under them.

7. You try to grow beans and lettuce in a rocky, glass-filled, totally shaded, two-inch deep "bed"(/ patch of debris) because there's just nowhere else to put them.

8. You firmly believe that with enough fertilizer, you will successfully grow pumpkins in a five-gallon bucket.

9. You think about having a barbeque, but quickly remember that there are only five square feet of non-planted ground in your backyard

10. Your mom makes you promise that you will never garden without rubber gloves on

11. You appear proudly with your first cucumber of the season and a friend says "you grew that? Really? No, really? Seriously? From a plant?"

12. You find a cucumber lying on a scary patch of brown rotting fungus with larvae in it, and you eat it anyway.

13. People say they're not sure you should be growing food in debris and rat-infested soil, and you get offended.

14. You are unpleasantly awakened from your planting-induced reverie by a drunk guy wandering into your yard. He then pretends to look for someone who's never lived there.

15. You don't pull down the weeds vining up your fences, because you enjoy the false sense of seclusion it gives you.

16. Your nearest neighbor could lean over and pick a tomato from his balcony.

17. You've driven more than 20 miles for really good compost. And liked it.

18. You've thought about vining a plant up the chain link fence in your parking pad, but thought better of it because the rats nest out there, and the bums would throw the ripe tomatoes at your house.

19. You think of your garden as sort of a ground/pot/hydroponic hybrid. Cause the plants are growing in dirt, kind of, but your not sure it can actually support plant life on its own.

20. You wonder whether beer-bottle baseball was once in vogue, or broken glass was an acceptable form of mulch in the 80's, because the amount of broken glass in your yard can't possibly be an accident.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 8:35PM
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Your biggest rainfall problem is the balcony above you that pours water over the edge any time there is a heavy rainfall.

Today wasn't so bad. The overflow is focused on the 6 inches at the edge. I had a bucket slightly behind the area, and it had four inches of water.

I also discovered that self watering containers desperately need overflow holes. Spent about 2 hours trying to empty it out. While sick with the flu...

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 11:55PM
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Here's mine:

You can't even hear the birds chirping over the sound of car stereos and atv's (yes, in the city) going by.

The most prominent thing in your front garden bed is the security alarm sign.

You take an inventory of garden tools at the end of each day. God forbid, it should go missing until the following week when someone on the street trys to sell it back to you.

People walking down the street want to borrow (they mean steal) your mower and think you're stupid enough to let them leave with it.

You have to clean the lawn of beer bottles, etc before you can mow your front lawn.

You have more plants in pots than in the ground, thus no real space on the front porch to actually sit down and enjoy the view. Instead, you crouch down in a small space between plants and end up with seeds in your hair. Hmm, that would provide me with more space for seedlings....!

You're already figuring out a way to grow plants on your severely slopped roof.

You're wondering if the people that own the vacant house next door would mind if you planted some flowers over there since you have run out of space.

You want to grow plants tall enough to engulf the trashy crack-looking house on the other side of you and everyone in it.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 8:40AM
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This thread is so funny. I feel ya y'all.

One that comes to mind is when your homeowners association dictates what your yard can look like.

When every tree you see planted in a median is the same tree. Crepe Myrtle here.

I think this might have been mentioned but when a deer replant plant is the last thing you have to worry about.

When rats are a problem instead of squirrels.

Last but not least (this takes the cake) when there is a gazebo on a median in the middle of an 8 lane intersection. I am not even joking.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 10:22AM
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red_chucks(5 (Chicago))

New to this forum and laughing at the posts.

I planted a blackberry bush in front of a gap in the fence with the neighbor more for the thorns than the fruit.

I had tomatoes growing in the front lawn from the tomato slices in fast food sandwiches that kids discarded in the yard.

And the only trellis I've ever used is the chain link fence.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 6:41PM
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1. Each new bed disturbs a literal time capsule: floral pottery chips, soda/beer flip tops, marbles and the worst-- yards of orange shag carpet.
2. Every (summer) night the ragged possum shows up at 9:03 and we're both so busy doing our thing that we look at the other with total surprise.
3. I have become the crazy middle-aged lady who knocks on the window to keep the dogs OFF!
4. I'm still searching for the tree that will block my neighbors yet stay in bounds.
5. Sometimes I don't feel as bad as I should when something dies because I now have room for something else I've coveted.
6. I look at expansive suburban yards and am so relieved since I have neither the time or money for that much potential.
7. Raccoons, possums, foxes in broad daylight!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 11:31PM
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"Weeding" includes recycling malt liquor & vodka containers deposited in the flower beds.

You wonder if you should do something about the person who has been in a prone position on the bus stop bench (which is on your property) for well over an hour. Or, you're kind of staying away from that corner, because the person at the bus stop is having a solo 2-way conversation.

Persons in need ask for assistance on a fairly routine basis.

Romando: I have to agree - Annie's Annuals is the best Bay Area nursery! Just lock your car doors!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 2:07AM
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Heather Bucking

So many of your posts resonate so well w/ me -- Here's a few more I can add:

* "Feeding the wildlife" means scooping out a cup of catfood from the sack you keep handy in the backseat of your car for the feral cats who stuck around after you snipped most of their colony

* You think it may be one of your neighbor's "customers" who stole your watering nozzle

* Repurposing remnants of your neighbor's remodeling project (hunks of broken cement with aggregated stone) into stepping stones for your side yard

* You don't agree with the name "Stink Tree" for Ailanthus. To you it smells like a mix of popcorn and cilantro and is one of the few earthy scents around. (Better than the stale cookie factory a block away.)

* You wonder if you can get away with sneaking a seedling native tree onto a weedy section of your neighbor's property to act as a privacy screen without it meeting an untimely death from their weed wacker.

*Your first gardening project was unearthing half a broken house in the side yard. Broken glass, rusty nails, soda pop cans, trash, cloth remnants, etc.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:53PM
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May I add:

*Having to feed plexiglass in between your privacy fence and the neighbor's chainlink fence to prevent the pee from her 3 very LARGE great danes from killing everything in the only part of my yard that gets full sun all day.

*The dog only likes being in the yard alone after dark so she can sit on rat watch.

*I'm guarding the one cucumber that's growing on the outside of my fence with the life of myself and my child because I know that sucker is going to get stolen as soon as it passes the gerkin stage.

*I'm starting to wonder if barbed wire is too extreme to keep everyone out during harvesting time?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2010 at 10:53AM
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May I add:

*Having to feed plexiglass in between your privacy fence and the neighbor's chainlink fence to prevent the pee from her 3 very LARGE great danes from killing everything in the only part of my yard that gets full sun all day.

*The dog only likes being in the yard alone after dark so she can sit on rat watch.

*I'm guarding the one cucumber that's growing on the outside of my fence with the life of myself and my child because I know that sucker is going to get stolen as soon as it passes the gerkin stage.

*I'm starting to wonder if barbed wire is too extreme to keep everyone out during harvesting time?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2010 at 11:19AM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

It's not all trials and tribulations. You also meet all your neighbors as you're out working in your yard, and discover which of them have lovely "secret" gardens in their back yards. Swap gardening stories over the fence. The old Cambodian man down the street leaves you plants in the shade for you to discover when you come home. Tough looking guys break character to smile at what's growing.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 7:41AM
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You end up investing in a video surveillance system to keep hungry people out of your garden.

You have to ring half your neighbours' doorbells to ask them to explain to their kids that they can't have lunch in your backyard.

You have to tell your neighbour next door to watch where she points with her hose.

Construction rubble keeps some of your plants from taking root.

You trellis everything you can possibly trellis.

You consider growing a fruit tree trellised to the wall of the house.

You don't use self-watering containers for convenience but rather so the asphalt reflecting the heat doesn't dry out your plants.

You use cloches to keep the neighbours' pets from trampling your seedlings.

You feel like calling the city so they give fines to your neighbours for feeding those really cute, furry squirrels who have now moved into your maple tree so they can spot any bit of soft, tempting soil to bury the garbage they found at the neighbours'.

You are forced to garden organically because by-laws prevent you from using any chemicals.

Kids take your pumpkin plant for halloween decoration and keep ringing your doorbell for candy while you are trying to sleep.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 5:21PM
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Oh, man -- I hear ya! I thought when I bought a house, I'd have a different take on the garden -- but I moved even more inner city, with even smaller space!

But the positives have out weighed the negatives. And I've met so many of my neighbors over the gardden. (One morning two neighbors and I were all standing out in my front garden, smoking cigarettes, pinching back leaders and talking about plants.

My tomatoes are the envy of the block, and everyone keeps an eye on the plants, so that no "strangers" pick tomatoes as they walk down the street. And there are enough Lemon Boys and Sweet 100's for all of us!

Last weekend I was watering the porch plants as a kinda scary tough guy walked down the street. I wished him a good morning as he walked by, and he gave me a tight little nod and kept walking. But before he'd gone 10 feet he stopped, turned around and asked me for the the name of a cream colored Oriental lily that was blooming at the time. He told me he walked by all the time, and he really enjoyed watching the blooms developed, and the great scent when it was in full bloom.

Another great lesson on not judging a book by it's cover.

My latest conributions:

You know you're an urban gardener when....

... you "mow" your lawn with a string trimmer.
... a critical part of your potting procedure is planting the cable and lock.
... the heat island effect means you can usually grow a few zones warmer!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 3:04PM
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jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)

Good point on the positives. One of the little neighbor kids is very curious. She once begged me for a blue potato! It's very fun to think I could be inciting a future urban gardener.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 11:50AM
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Bare rooftops annoy you as a fallow waste of sunny space.

Laughed in agreement about 'mowing' with a weedwacker and spending as much time picking up cigarette butts and gum wrappers as weeding.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 6:43PM
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You park in your garden

You plot you balcony/ porch/ stairs in vertical and horizontal rows.
You have to remember to plan for getting up and down stairs.
You plot the late night demise of your neighbors weedtree/ tree of heaven.

You sit on your back porch with a bb gun and a flash light to scare off the rats.

you try to come up with convincing, justifiable and rational reasons why your landlord should find it brilliant to build a roof top deck and extend the porches per your request.
you wish some one would just design a pot that "looked like this" and would" fit right there" and "be stackable even!"
You scour alleys for 5 gallon buckets and usable bins.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 1:07AM
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On the very first nice Saturday of Spring you can't cross the police barricade to get back to your garden to use the gardening supplies you just picked up at the store and you sit outside said barricade for 8 hours through the stand-off hoping to have just a little bit of day light left at the end.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 8:57PM
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I know this is an old thread but I'm a newbie and so many of these posts resonated with me! So here are my newest observations:
-trying to think of all the people you know with under-utilized yards and porches, in order of how well you can tolerate them- so you can use their yard or porch to leave containers
-You consider jump-starting your seedlings by leaving them in the car while you're at work....
-you begin wondering if your boss would be okay with you bringing containers to work with you since the playground area gets 6+ hours of sun. (I'm a teacher.)
-you warn backseat passengers that they may get dirt on their clothes
-You're wondering if you can talk your apartment management into developing garden plots instead of giving you storage space
-my patio/concrete hole space is so deep that when people walk past what will be my growing area, all I see are knees and dogs.
-trying to figure out how to trellis squash, beans, and melons without encroaching on the upstairs neighbor's ACTUAL balcony and staying within the 18in the management company is allowing you to come out from your concrete hole.
-not actually being able to use your windows because they are even with the ground and everyone lets their dogs wee and woo right in front of them.

I hope people keep adding to this!!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 9:36PM
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two scary looking guys passing by that you swear you saw in newspaper mugshots stop by and help you dig the holes for your new trees.

A transient parks his cart in your driveway and offers to help hold the garden gate for you so you can fix the hinge.

You plant raspberries and roses under all your windows for security instead of enjoyment.

You have recently been able to imagine the sound of passing cars sounds like the ocean at night.

You are glad there's no parking on your side of the street.

Other urban gardeners anonymously leave plants and bags of backyard fruit on your porch at night .


    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 4:51PM
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Love this. Thanks for reviving!

... when you can say you've spent more than 5 hours online looking for polite signs to keep people from letting their dogs urinate on your tree pit flowers/fencing.

... when you consider fire truck sirens, booming car bass, and loudly partying neighbors as tolerable background noise, because it's Sunday and both the pharmaceutical factory across the street and the concrete factory down the block are closed, but you can smell the heavenly scent of danish from the pastry factory on the block behind your yard.

... when you plan mulch purchases based on how many days you have free to make the numerous trips required and how many bags of mulch can fit in your brooklyn cart (push-cart). (It's a 30 min walk roundtrip and only two bags can fit in my cart at a time.) I needed 8 bags last year. :)

... when you don't care about deer resistance but you do care about mosquito repelling abilities, which is why the husband insisted on buying six catnip plants and planting marigolds and lemon balm in every planter you have except the two you desperately called off-limits for your as yet un-arrived online plant orders.

... when putting up one window box on the front of your house (hanging from the bars on the window) suddenly makes three neighbors who have never spoken to you start to greet you and comment on how nice it makes the house look.

... when you know your neighbors by their dogs and not their names, because the dogs are the ones peeing on your flowers in the tree pit.

... when you spend weeks online researching what long-flowering plants can be grown in mostly shade even if they are supposed to have full sun, and then purchase those plants even if only one person said they were able to grow it in shade, with fingers crossed.

I completely agree with the glass issue. I know in olden days outhouses were often in the backyard of rowhouses, and after plumbing was installed in homes, the outhouse holes were often filled in with household garbage, but I just don't think all this glass is that old. It looks like window pane glass and not more than a few years old in some cases, so we joke that it's the neighbors who hate our plants being in front of their garden-level apartment windows - that they throw broken glass out their windows to get back at us. I know they've tossed their cigarette butts into my yard all winter...

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 12:22PM
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Proof you're an urban gardener:

.....when you choose the fair bianca rose because of its puny reputation.

....ditto the little limes...

...when you have mission creep....and think about extending your front garden onto the city boulevard because some plants would look oh so pretty there.

...when you comb your hair and freshen up before working outside because your neighbours have started to stop and chat on the way home from work in the evenings and you suddenly feel self conscious in your tattered grubs sans makeup.

.....when you know the dog owners' walking schedules and d*mn it, if you're home, you'll be ready with a hose or broom or something to occupy your time because you know that nobody is brazen enough to let their pooches pee or poop on said fair bianca rose bushes while you're out there.

...when you've taken an interest in the ancient practice of espaliering and wonder if it will help soften the new backyard fence, presumably constructed as a deterrence to break and enters - or so your neighbour thinks - but really, it's because you've grown weary of the daily visual assault of broken bricks and toys, rusting trikes and the holy triumvirate of Grey Garbage Bin, Blue Recycle Bin and Compost Green Bin.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:54PM
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When you scrub the corners of the internet looking for "front yard" vegetables that will look enough like ornamentals to fool the code fanatics that have targeted your entire street as the next "urban redevelopment" zone and are trying to find violations, so they can intimidate people to sell.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 6:25AM
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Hi everyone,

When you're so desperate to grow anything anywhere that you utilize the space on top of your a/c in the concrete jungle. :/

First time gardener in the big city. Although I occassionally grew things while growing up living in a house back home I'm a novice but always wanted to have a vegetable and flower garden.

I'm growing tomatoes in a container on top of my air conditioner and wild flower mixes in 3 container boxes in windowsills. Thank God I'm on the first floor of my apartment building and it's a little difficult reaching without either a latter or step stool.

This is my first time doing so I'll have to watch out for those wanting to pilfer or my super who hates me tries to poison

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:15PM
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So funny. I have to add some.

When you fill your pots and/or pot your plants behind your car in the parking lot because you don't want to have to carry whole bags of potting soil up stairs.

When you park in a sunny parking spot just so you can claim the rest of the space for your plants for the afternoon.

When you use a tarp under your planting/potting activities so the neighbors below you don't have potting soil all over their patio.

You store plants under the staircase so you can put them out in the sun without having to carry them up and down stairs.

You have counted carrying 5 gallon buckets up and down stairs as your workout for the day.

You have stolen every plastic folding table in the house to give plants access to better sun.

You have hit your downstairs neighbor dumping water out of a drain pan.

Your balcony is now secluded and enclosed almost entirely with plants, which you use not only as a pleasant place to sit, but also as a hidden vantage point from which to spy on the goings on in your remote part of the complex that has recently been hit with car break-ins and has been attracting all kinds of shady people lately.

You have had conversations with multiple people through your tomatoes and snow peas about why they need to park in the guest spots rather than taking the spots of the people who actually live here.

You interrupt your gardening to do any of the following: write down a license plate number, ask people if they live here/what their business is, tell the teenager(s) from other apt complexes who park in the corner to get high to get out, tell the teenager(s) from other complexes who are "just hanging" in your neighbor's bushes to get out, tell that shady guy to clean up that big mess of wires and junk that he left in the middle of the parking lot when his car caught on fire last week, write progressively more angry and sarcastic notes explaining what is and is not a parking space, talk with maintenance men, contractors, or movers who are working on other units about your plants, or if you have ever said something along the lines of "I don't care if you get high/kill each other/worship satan here as long as you don't litter, make noise, or touch my plants."

You have had to explain to a dozen drunk partiers from downstairs why you are sitting under the staircase at midnight wearing a headlamp so you can squish blackflies.

You have ever hidden behind the plants on your balcony to avoid saying hi to the neighbors because you are grungy, in a horrible mood, not wearing a bra, hate everybody today, etc.

Your plants compete with the cats for sunny windowsills.

With respect to plant "requirements," the "I'll do the best I can" attitude becomes a "you're not the boss of me, plant" attitude. You have grown tomatoes in the shade and greens in the summer and you are not. apologizing. for. it. Because your garden is gangsta and it doesn't give a $%&*.

And I have to second the using kitchen utensils in the garden thing. Just the other day I decided that I shouldn't be using my wusthof kitchen shears out there because I an't afford to replace them. Also seconding searching the forums for that one person who says it's okay to grow tomatoes in part shade. lol

And I have to put this in there for any other knitters. You know you are a city knitter when your neighbor's guests park their bicycles on the lace shawl that you have blocking.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 4:29PM
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LOL! aphidsquish I was laughing out loud. :-)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 8:35PM
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I just discovered another one.

...when the discovery of your first hornworm sends you screaming inside the house to call your mom.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 5:15PM
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Finally took the step to move from successfully watering a houseplant into actual gardening, and planted my teeny-tiny yard last spring. I think my landlord thought I would plant a few farmer's market annuals when I asked her if I could garden; I got 33lbs of beans, peppers, and cherry tomatoes instead. A few things I'm taking into my next season and new apartment:

1. you make friends with your neighbors because your trellised plants have outgrown the communal fence and started wandering to their yard.

2. You scope out potential apartments/landlords based on whether or not they'll let a tenant "landscape" the building's yard with edible plants.

3. You select varietals based on how unappealing they are to rats (cherry tomatoes - big success. Larger-fruited varieties= rat central).

    Bookmark   November 16, 2014 at 4:43PM
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