Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Good News + Bad: A Visit to the Roof Farm

Anyone who grows knows that gardening teaches humility, among other lessons. A walk through the roof garden in June's final days reveals the good and bad, happy and sad.

The good: Seeds shared by our pal Erik Knutzen at Homegrown Evolution have emerged. I'm excited to see what they'll produce.

Labeled "mystery Greek squash,"
I guess Erik himself isn't even certain

Eggplant Udumalapet are setting
their extraordinary flowers

Peppers Santa Fe Grande
coming on strong

The bad: OK, maybe not bad, but frustrating. This is the Broccoli Romanesco, and wouldn't you be excited about growing it if it looked like this? But it doesn't. And we're about out of cool weather here in Chicago. I planted healthy starts on April 8 and this plant takes 75-100 days from transplant.

Your 75 days are about up, Mr Shrively

Walking through the garden, you can always find something to be thankful for, like Art with his drill securing another crossbar for the tomatoes. Plus, the prolific peapods in the background.

Art is a gardener's friend

Uh-oh. In my book, this falls into the category of really bad. These gorgeous little San Marzano tomato babies have blossom end rot. The starts were transplanted on April 29 in the greenhouse (even with low nighttime temps they got a lovely start) and set out a month later. Maybe they used up the cup of Espoma lime we mixed into the soil?

Today we gave them a quarter cup of hydrated lime
dissolved in a gallon of water

On the other hand, these early Stupice tomatoes are ripening nicely, with lots more to come.

I picked one today and ate half of it on the roof
before I remembered the gardener's friend downstairs

The Kellogg's Breakfast tomatoes are coming right along too. With peak 80-90 days from transplant, we should be looking for ripe ones in a few weeks.

Saying goodbye: To the Indian Mustard (Wild Garden Pungent Mix), gone to bloom for the bees to explore. Despite the bounty to come, I'll miss our toss of heat-seeking greens.

I've already made a note to plant them again in 2010


feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Gardening does indeed teach humility...
It looks as though your successes far out weigh your misses.

Beautiful work and continued success to you all…!

H2 said...

Well thank you, Terrie. Any way it unfolds, growing is for me utterly absorbing.

Mr. Homegrown said...

No kidding about gardening teaching humility! We've had all kinds of bad things happen to broccoli over the years. I've got some of that mystery squash that's just beginning to produce--will post about it soon.

eichelbug said...

Very inspiring. One question regarding your SIP setup...the fertilizer ring around the soil top? Why not mix the fertilizer into the soil mix? what's the advantage of the ring? how does this help in fertilization?

Anonymous said...

I ended up with some of the same Blossom End Rot this year. Being the second year I used SIPS, I didn't know how much of the hydrated lime would still be in the soil and added less than I maybe should have. Obviously I erred on the side of not enough. Hopefully the hydrated lime slurry will clear it up!

H2 said...

Hi eichelbug:
Here's what earthbox says, and we generally follow their instructions since they've tested their system:
"Fertilizer is pulled from the top of the wet potting mix to the roots of the plant, diffusing from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration."

H2 said...

Erik, I'm so eager for a picture of that mystery squash, though I am loving the suspense...

H2 said...

I've always used one cup of Espoma lime (not hydrated) mixed into the top few inches in a 5-gal bucket when planting.

This year the tomato buckets are 7 gal, so am wondering if I should have upped the amount. Good luck to both of us--our weather has been so crazy we can't afford to lose one single tomato.

Jenna said...

My San Marzanos are so BER - ridden that I've stopped growing them. I now grow Long Toms and San Marzano Redortas.

My SM's last year ate up all the lime I could give them and more. I had also planted with lots of eggshells. I ended up eventually dumping foli-cal on them every month and the BER finally stopped.

Keep an eye on them. It's only July. You'll need more calcium for these before long. Not sure why.

H2 said...

That's important to know, Jenna--thanks very much. It's our first year growing SMs. I'll keep the lime water standing by...