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A Local Agent Shares Some Container Gardening Tips

While doing some homework for Outdoors Week, we learned that Coldwell Banker agent Jenny Ames has a pretty serious veggie garden going at her home. On the roof of their Lakeview home, Ames and her three young boys have set up five large custom planters (each about the size of a bathtub), in which they're growing a cornucopia of vegetables. The garden is new, but Ames doesn't sound like a novice; she set up an automated irrigation system, and she says she used lightweight soil to, you know, keep the roof from caving in. Being the hard-nosed journalists that we are, we heaved some hardball gardening questions in her direction.

What are you growing there?
Five varieties of tomatoes, two varieties of beets, organic carrots, onions, red peppers, green peppers, jalapeño peppers, egg plant, zucchini, green beans, strawberries, cantaloupe, and lettuce as well as basil, thyme and parsley.

You deal with a lot of million-dollar homes; do any of your clients tend their own veggie gardens?
A few – mostly modest container gardens with herbs.

How did you develop the green thumb?
I had a garden as a kid at my dad and step mom's farm in rural Massachusetts.

Do you adhere to a particular locavore / organic food dogma?
No, we just love to eat fresh tomatoes, so they are our first priority.

Got any special tips / techniques to share with budding gardeners in Chicago?
Jump in! If you're growing veggies, put your garden in a place where rodents can't get to them. Pick your plants based on available sunlight (e.g. shade plants for shady locations).