Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Windy, Wet Weather Doth Not Motivate Me

The blueberries have obviously been doing well without my help.

Was looking at my 2009 records and think I will push most of my major activity to the latter half of May. I did things earlier last year, but I just don't feel that the yields lived up to 2009. Then again, it could have just been the differences in weather between the two years.

Took advantage of the nice weather today and prepped some new wood planters that will be used for ornamental stuff. Will probably look into grasses and some other things that will add some visual interest throughout the year, as well as survive the winters on the rooftop. In the pipe dream category we'll go for lilacs and a fig tree, and to round everything out, a trip to the greenmarket for some annuals.

If the weather forecast holds for this weekend I think I'll prep two boxes and put in some french breakfast radishes and golden beets. If I have a free finger to hook a bag, may also take the speedy/lazy route and pick up some greens/lettuces from SHF at the greenmarket.

I'd been thinking about training some vines up a brick wall dominating our rooftop space...any suggestions? I saw this post with morning glories; I was also tossing around the idea of pole beans like scarlet runners, or maybe even hops (though I just read something about getting sticky when handling them). Thoughts?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Season!

This season kind of snuck up on me - and seeing leaf buds on our blueberries really drilled that home. Busy with other things, this year I did not get around to starting seedlings indoors, so I will be relying on Silver Heights Farm (SHF) for seedlings, and direct sow other things. This is what I have in mind for this year:

  • lettuces / greens (direct)
  • radishes (direct)
  • bush beans (direct)
  • beets (direct)
  • tomatoes (SHF)
  • summer squash (direct)
  • peppers (SHF)
  • basil (SHF)
I've had good luck with all of the above in previous years so I'm keeping things simple...maybe try a few different varieties of tomatoes and peppers. Any suggestions from my fellow roof/balcony gardeners?

PS - I have MANY seeds that I likely won't use, really just about everything and anything you may wish to grow. If you're still in the market for seeds this year, comment this post and let me know what you're interested in and I'll post back what I have. I have a bunch from Pinetree and some from Hudson Valley Seed Library, Baker's Creek, Johnny's and a few others.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Final Harvest

Our box of kale has produced really well despite a bit of neglect (what can I say, caring for a newborn trumps caring for a garden). The golden beets never really got going - seems these do better on the roof in early spring.

We're going to cut this down and pack up the garden for the year. Final thoughts in next post.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fall Greens

I may be behind the curve here, but popped some kale seedlings I started into an EB, and started some more kale and rainbow chard this past week. My more experienced rooftop gardener friend just put some seed in this week as well so maybe I'm not too late for a nice harvest before the dead of winter. I think the kale and chard may be the extent of my fall gardening...maybe some golden beets in the rest of the boxes if I feel motivated this weekend.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Powdery mildew has invaded the tondo scuro and costata romanesco squash plants on the roof and the dragon langerie beans are slowing down, so I'm starting to think of what to replace them with. We've had success with basil this year so I may get six plants in one of the boxes to extend the harvest into fall and start some cooler weather greens in the other.

Tomatoes are doing well - since putting some pickling lime in and ensuring the mix stays wet, it seems the new fruits have escaped BER. I've started a BER graveyard to remind me to stay vigilant. Bucolic Bushwick did point out some troubles of competition amongst tomato plants, which is interesting since I think that's why the robeson and money maker are so challenged (they went in after plants that were put in alongside my existing prince and zebra went the way of compost). When watering this morning I did notice some leaves on the zebra getting the "purple-spot wilties," so we'll see how much longer the good harvest lasts.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Harvests & Help Line

We've been having a reasonably successful harvest so far. We enjoyed handfuls of blueberries every day for some time and have since let the mockingbirds have their run of the runts. The etruria basil plans from Silver Heights Farm have not let us down, as they exploded in this heat wave we've been having; we cut them all the way back to barely two leaf sets and hope to have another huge harvest in a month or so. The dragon tongue beans are pushing out good handfuls every day - enough for a nice bean salad every day or two (though seemingly not as productive as the black valentines we grew last year).

Squash has been a mixed bag...the tondo scuro and costata romanesco are producing in fits and starts. Earlier in the season it seemed we had a pollination issue as fruit was withering mid-growth. Interestingly I think we had the squash started later last year and the fruiting coincided with the appearance of our band of bees. Since the bee activity picked up this year withering fruit has been less of a problem. I might stick to the later start as I am not one to be out there trying to hand pollinate squash...I just don't care enough to go to that length.

Tomatoes, where to begin....they are enormous, so I've taken to trimming the tops. I have had issues with blossom end rot (BER), so over the past couple of weeks I've had to lop off painful amounts of fruit. I'm in the process of procuring pickling lime, which has been identified as a quick-fix. Last year I had the same problem but read that often EBs take at least a year to "get balanced." (BER can be caused by a number of things, among them calcium deficiency)

I picked up the covers of the tomato EBs and noticed that the top was dry. Not sure if this is a function of the crazy heat we've been having, but I'm suspecting that the garbage Miracle-Gro Organic Choice mix I picked up this year is not wicking properly. I've had good luck with this selection in the past, but this year's bags seemed to be more "bark-y" than usual. This morning I'm going to try watering the boxes from the top down to ensure that the mix is thoroughly wet and therefore capable of absorbing the dolomite and fertilizer more efficiently.

BER took my one Paul Robeson, but I still have a decent amount of black prince, green zebra and money maker on the vines, which I am watching over obsessively for any hints of ripening. As for the size issue, next year I might go for a box of determinates instead of two boxes of indeterminates...since the missus and I have started canning some stuff.

Cheers to summer - and if there are any of you in NYC I'd love to hear your experiences with the season so far in the comments.

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.