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My Urban Garden in St. Paul

When I woke up this past Saturday morning, I didn't have any concrete plans for the day – except to get up and get my dog walk in before it got super-hot – so little did I know what was in store for me.
Since the mercury was supposed to creep up towards the 90s I had Zada walked (we went to/around Lake Como) and back in the house by 9am. Along Wheelock Parkway there were a plethora of "Garage Sale" signs on almost every block – evidently it was THE day for sales in St. Paul. 

Leaving the dog reclining in the cool of the air conditioning, I hopped in the car and ventured back to a garage sale where I'd put a rug on hold; I ended up with a few more knick-knacks (spent a whopping $11.50), and then on my way home I saw another sign advertising plants for sale.

I had a genius thought: why not get my deck garden started? I'd buy plants locally grown from my "neighbors" (I'm from the country; anyone within a radius of 10 miles is a neighbor!) and save money, too.

Turning down an alleyway, I pulled up alongside a hand-painted sign ("The Greenhouse is Open") and walked into a beautiful little urban garden – complete with quaint greenhouse – in the midst of Saint Paul. A nice man greeted me with a smile and I asked for the grand tour, which he happily obliged. 

He had herbs, flowers, coleus and a myriad of other plants I don't know (and some I can't remember) – in short, he had almost everything I needed for my container gardens on my deck. Last summer's deck garden was my second foray into the world of urban gardening and I did very well, so this year I'm expanding yet again...*gulp*...and I've added a couple more items to the list.

I bought 4 basil plants and 8 cilantro plants from him. Also, I've added two newbies to the urban herb garden: a cherry tomato plant and 4 "big dipper" pepper plants. This'll be my first time growing peppers OR tomatoes, and I've never had to stake plants before, so hopefully I don't botch it. In addition to last year's chives (which came up of their own accord in March) and lettuce (those started peeking through the dirt in the past couple weeks), I think I've got quite the little herb garden growing.

Of course, after getting a tad stumped by my brand-new, already-tall tomato stalk, I came up with a creative little solution (also free :) to help support the slender plant. I don't think it'll last very long – as the plant grows thicker and the tomatoes start to weigh it down I'll need something more sturdy – but for right now it's cute and works very well: two of Zada's on-hand throwing sticks that together create a convenient "notch" in which the tomato stalk can reside.

Last year's supports for my vining black-eyed susans is in place for the peppers – we'll see if that works! It's all a learning curve.

I also bought some coleus from him, but he didn't have the orange ones I'd hoped he sent me over to another local sale – where several neighborhood ladies collaborate and sell their perennials – and I got my orange coleus (plus a nice, hefty flower pot for $1.00!). 

Although I wanted to buy all my plants locally, I needed to head to Linder's anyway (for potting soil), and once there of course I loaded up on more goodies: a HUGE pot for my clematis (a gift from Clint – it's gorgeous!); some superbena; daisies; a couple varieties of osteospermum; colorful vinnias; ornamental grass and the soil.

By now it was mid-day and in my excitement of the day – and all my purchases – and forgotten to eat breakfast! After a quick snack it was out to the deck with my gloves and the iPod for an afternoon of potting, re-planting, digging-my-hands-in-the-dirt fun. 

It was sweaty, hot work (thank goodness for the breeze) but once it was done and I could step back to survey my handy-work, I realized that I have quite the beautiful urban garden :)

Time will tell how this year's deck garden fares...but it's looking good so far!