Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rooftop gardening essentials

1. Windblock. Bucolic Bushwick is using reed fencing but I haven't really spent time figuring out how to use something that tall for my space without it either blowing away or blocking sun for a portion of the day. In the meantime I have a janky setup based on a design used by one of the Green Roof Growers. If I recall the sides are 2 x 8s, the bases 2 x 4s and the corners 1 x 2s. Yes, that's plastic wrap...does a good job of protecting seedlings and allowing light to fall on them. When things get crowded, it comes off...usually the plant is established enough to endure summer winds by then with a little extra protection. Last year I ended up putting landscape fabric up after the EBs came out of the trenches; this year I will go with reed fencing only if I can find a short height. I have no comment on ecological soundness of plastic wrap and lumber from a big box store at this time.

2. Earth Staples. Last year I wrapped twine around the EBs to prevent the mulch cover from whipping apart seedlings. This year I bought some of these and they work out perfectly when pushed through the cover.

Frost-free Update

I noticed that the street-level in-ground gardener up the block put in all of his tender plants this past week (I see basil, peppers and tomatoes). Given that he has likely been gardening in this area for over 25 years, he's probably developed a good feel for the season.

For the most part everything is growing well now that we're into mid-May. We've been taking regular harvests from the lettuce and puntarella. The bush beans & squash reminded me that they are super-quick to germinate by pushing through the EB covers in less than a week. Hands down, save for radishes perhaps, they are the best feel-good crop for newbie container gardeners.

This weekend's chores: pulling all victims of the storms and wind of the past couple of weeks (some tomatoes, all basil, most peppers), thinning out squash and beans, sowing herbs (lemon balm, anise hyssop, florence fennel), sunflowers (dwarf firecrackers) and more bush beans.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Harvest & Hope

First harvest of the year was a small batch of french breakfast radishes that we tossed in our dinner salad. Radishes are an excellent "placeholder" as they take roughly a month from seed to harvest.

Busied myself this morning by direct sowing squash and bush beans, and transplanting strawberries, tomatoes, basil, peppers into the EBs. Had followed the Seed-Starters Handbook timing guidelines for the seed-starts and found them way too early for someone in an apartment with limited space and no dedicated grow setup to ensure sufficient light for them (though my guessing on a 4/15 frost-free date in NYC was also a factor). I started them all in six-pack cells and then moved the tomatoes and peppers to bottle SIPs. Tomatoes & peppers are "leggy," while the strawberries and basil seem hardy but stopped growing about a month ago; I put them all in anyway and we'll see what happens.

A Stokes Farm rosemary plant found its way into our Ikea planter.

Other things going on - chives are sending up blossoms, cilantro is up, lettuce is up, mache is up, blueberries are forming, lavender is sending up flower stalks, chinese fringe tree getting ready to flower, zinnias, marigolds, calendula are up, and the Silver Heights Farm lettuce & puntarella seem happy in their EB spaces.