Wednesday, July 31, 2013

62 Years Of Earth Warming in 13 Seconds

Via NASA, a heart-stopping 13-second animation that shows how temperatures have warmed up since 1950. More here.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Julia Child Tomato

Picked this 3/4 pound+ Julia Child yesterday, a beauty.

Nestled in with three pounds of food, including a Cosmonaut Volkov tomato at top. A bountiful time of the season.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ping Pong

Cleared out a pile of half finished projects and put a nice ping pong table out in the shop. Just enough room to have a decent game.

We bought a floor model from Mr. Ping Pong, who is about 1/2 mile away on Chicago Ave. Out of the same building he runs Mr. Flower and a U-haul franchise in addition to a ping pong school. When I walked in a girl was doing hitting drills with a pro in an otherwise empty room of tables. Cool place.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Eggplant Little Fingers

If you like a quick-cooking eggplant with generous yields that arrives early in the season, Little Fingers is for you.

Our seeds from Bountiful Gardens were strong and sure and the plants themselves have withstood weeks of blistering heat on our roof (and I do mean blistering--up to 120 degrees F some days).
With climate change, few tomato varieties can grow up there any more, but that's another post. Check out the flourishing Little Fingers, with dozens of blooms. Our normal-sized Thai green eggplant fruit is just emerging.
The growing habit of Little Fingers is unusual, with a single stem putting out several smaller stems, each with a flower followed by a fruit. We sauteed some chopped last weekend with some Jimmy Nardello peppers (also doing well this season--and every hot season) and garlic and added them to raw tomatoes, feta, and kalamata olives. Good food.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Drop in Monarch Population Overwintering in Mexico order to compensate for the continued loss of habitat we need to plant LOTS AND LOTS of milkweed. To assure a future for monarchs, conservation and restoration of milkweeds needs to become a national priority.
The factors involved in the declining numbers are worth a quick read.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Loggers and the giant Mark Twain redwood cut down in California, 1892.  Photograph by N.E. Beckwith
Click on image for larger view.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

First Rooftop Tomato of the Season - Cosmonaut Volkov

Turned into lunch alongside white bean salad with red onion, chives, rosemary, garlic and sherry vinaigrette.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Six Pounds of Rooftop Produce

That's how much I picked this morning. Honestly, the amount of vegetables we're able to grow up there continues to surprise me.

Is everything perfect? No, the skins on some of the tomatoes are tough owing to weird weather swings. That yellow-orange Dr Wyche in the middle is looking particularly haggard.

And some of the tomato plants--victims of Chicago's week-long 95-degree F temps (10 to 20 degrees hotter on the roof) and some sort of wilty looking disease--seem like they might give up the ghost after a single flush of fruit.
It's easy to get caught up in growing projects that haven't worked (I should have tagged them). I often remind myself the only reason we moved to the roof was because our garden beds got too shaded by trees to support growing produce.

Six pounds picked today

More than enough for lunch: last of the greens, luscious Provider beans, a few tomatoes (chicken shown but not grown).

What have we learned after five growing seasons up there? Some plants are reliable producers each and every year, despite variables like weather extremes, blight, etc. In this category I'd put:
For a while I've wondered what this blog was all about. After today's trip to the roof I think it might be the story of feeling immensely content as we eat what we've grown.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Happy Friday

Here's a nice roast chicken fresh from the grill...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Eating First Rooftop Tomatoes 2013

We ate all five of the early tomatoes we picked yesterday, warm-to-nearly hot from the roof. I picked this one, a Matina, this morning along with three more. 


“A cooked tomato is like a cooked oyster: ruined.”
Andre Simon (1877-1970)
A Concise Encyclopedia of Gastronomy

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tatsoi in Early July

Still happy on the roof in their SIPs (sub-irrigated planters, these from Menard's) after our week away. In fact fun to see the tatsoi grow this large. We usually pick it smaller.

Seed from Hudson Valley Seed Library, much of it saved from previous years. At left are HVSL's braising greens, a nice mix.

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 6, 2013: Chicago Rooftop First Ripe Tomatoes

After the rainiest spring on record and with some wild temperature swings, we had enough sun and heat to set up and ripen our favorite early tomato varieties. 
We planted out these seedlings on a warm May 6 day, several weeks before tomatoes have historically been safe from frost to plant in Chicago. And then, bizarrely, on May 20 it was 90 degrees F. People, this is not Chicago weather.

We've found these relatively smaller, earlier varieties most able to withstand weather extremes. Larger tomatoes don't do as well on our roof these days.

Black Prince

These ripening fruits need a blast of heat to boost flavor, and it looks like they'll get in over the next couple weeks.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Birth of a Garden with Pig and Cat

Little Green Girl has taken her garden knowledge and experience and translated it into a stop motion animation film. Enjoy!