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.


Scarlett said...

Envious! I'm just starting out and have only produced herbs and a few salads' worth of greens on my small Chicago balcony.

H2 said...

Well done, Scarlett. You've got a solid start.

Marlene said...

I'm sure your blog has, does, and will mean many things to you, but I can tell you what it means to me. I live on a small, tropical semi-arid island in the southern Caribbean, and food security is an issue for people here. We have very little soil on our limestone island as a result of the effects of feral goats over a number of centuries. There is very little fresh water, so we have a de-salination plant that produces excellent, costly water.

You can imagine my interest in your experience of growing food in SIPs, especially on your hot Chicago roof. I've just put together a shipment of perlite, fertilizer and buckets to begin experimenting. I'm pretty intent on using just coconut fiber and perlite as the growing medium, as coir is available cheap here and other media would have to be shipped a long way. I have a feeling this will be a significant challenge, so will just remain calm and patient. : )

I've spent tons of time on your site and it is always a pleasure to read your posts. I feel ready for my adventure. So, thanks!

H2 said...

Thank you for your inspirational note. We're excited to hear how your growing goes with coir + amendments.

May I suggest that you read, if you haven't already, Bruce's post on coir here:

We'll be rooting for you. On what island do you live? All the best, H2

Marlene said...

H2, I live on Bonaire. I just returned from a three week trip. Before I left I set up my first SIP using a big metal cooking pot. I planted basil and mint. Three weeks, no watering and I was sure the plants would be dead. But the basil is huge and the mint decent. The basil is slightly chlorotic and the mint a bit more so. I have to go back and read the posts on coir, so I can tinker with trace minerals etc. I'll let you know how things go as I progress.

H2 said...

The basil and mint should be helpful in evaluating nutrient balance. Thanks for the good report, Marlene.