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.


bookenbryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bookenbryan said...

Hey Chris,
How are your plants coping with the extreme heat? My earthbox of 6 bell peppers is taking it quite badly... wilting like crazy. They are watered and the soil is still moist everywhere. I have placed them in a shadier spot, which has helped some. Do you have the same issue? My peppers in other pots (non earthbox) seem to be coping better.

Also, all of my plants in my three earthboxes (first year) have quite a bit Blossom End Rot. I put Hydrated Lime in the water tanks but have yet to see impovement.

Hope your garden is well,

Chris said...

Hey Bryan, thanks for checking in. Plants seem to be coping reasonably with the heat, but I'm admittedly a little burnt out on the watering can process I have going on here. I only have one pepper this year and it is persisting among a rampant set of bush beans. It is on the roof and gets morning and late afternoon sun.

Last year I had peppers on the balcony which gets blasted pretty much the entire day until evening but I never had any issues with wilting. Still, that doesn't mean you won't...NYC is full of micro-climates. Shuffle stuff around and find out what works is my philosophy.

See my latest post on BER. Sorry to hear you're struggling with it too. First year EBs I think are more prone to it since the dolomite really hasn't worked its way into the soil. I was hoping for better results this year but not so much. I've got some pickling lime on the way and I noticed that my mix doesn't seem thoroughly wet so maybe the dolomite is just sitting there.

You probably know this but once the fruit has BER, it's done...nip it off and hopefully any new fruit will remain BER free.

bookenbryan said...

Hey Chris,
Sorry to hear you had some BER issues again this year. Its terrible to have to pick off half formed tomatoes and throw them away...

Things are getting a lot better for my garden now that the heat has broken.
Still cannot figure out what is with my bell pepper EB. Sun hits for an hour and they wilt till the point they look like they are dead. Few hours later they look fine...

I picked up some "Organic Traditions" Dolomite Garden Lime at a garden place on atlantic between 3rd and 4th ave. It is "pelletized" though, not powered. I wanted to use something as soon as possible and that is the only thing I could find in local stores. I poured quite a bit in each of EB pipes, and I think it is working well.

I also found that my tomato EBs were not wicking. I think on one of the really hot days the box completely dried out (I wish the reservoir was bigger, I have to water multiple times a day because the tomatoes are so big) and thereafter the dry soil would not wick. I did not notice because the tomatoes looked fine. I watered all the soil from the top and now they seem fine. But during that time when it was dry, I think the tomatoes were getting water directly from roots that reached into the reservoir. I have seen images online of people taking out the tomato plants at the end of the year, and the roots are well into the reservoir. Thus when the soil was dry the plants were not getting any calcium or nutrients.
That is my current "theory" anyways.

Talk to you later