Wednesday, July 29, 2009

iPhone Video from H2's Roof

H2 had no idea she was about to become the public face of GRG. Her rooftop garden mojo/magic comes through beautifully.


One question comes to mind: Can Cinematographer RobH can be persuaded to copy, i.e. flatter with theft, Twisty's production values for his next vid?

Monday, July 27, 2009

July 27 Roof Garden: Eggplant, Tomatoes, Peppers

No time for many words. But if you can't let pretty produce speak for itself at the end of July, what can you do?

July 27 harvest:
Eggplant Pingtung Long and Udumalapet
Tomatoes Kellog's Breakfast
(pretty green highlight, but they don't look like the photo at the link)
Black Cherry, Stupice, and Matina

This mystery Greek squash sent by Erik from Homegrown Evolution
has leaves that feel like suede.

I'd like to live under one
These rooster spur hot peppers grow upward. See the green one with its flower still on top? Click the link for the ripe look.

I dried these last year and they lasted me the winter+

Remember these
San Marzano tomatoes with blossom end rot?
Their dose of hydrated lime must have worked

Hey neighbor!
Need a tomato for that sandwich?

The Roger Federer hand-off prevents this early beauty from going 20 feet down and splat.

Peppers Santa Fe Grande are crashing the gates.
I like to blacken them in a cast iron skillet and add to mung beans.

Our 7 gal in 8 gal SIPs do have a nice large reservoir. Many of our tomatoes have some sort of funk on their leaves, but I'm not stressing over it (well maybe a little).

I'm certainly not pulling out any plants that are producing

Here's a second planting in the earthbox that once held spring peapods:
Endive Full Heart Batavian and Golden Purslane. The lemon and Armenian cukes at right should offer some shade.

Kellog's Breakfast tomato, redux

Eggplant Udumalapet on the vine

Last year Art installed these PVC arches, which turned out to be too slippery for the melons to climb. This year we wrapped hairy garden twine around them, strategically attached with a glue gun.

The scarlett runner beans love them
and are heading skyward

Moon and Stars Melon from Botanical Interests is an Amish heirloom. It may have gone in too late to produce, but we can hope.

The moon and stars all over the leaves
remind me of paint splatter

Black cherries line up in an orderly fashion,
ripening day by day

In the inimitable words of Warren Zevon:
enjoy every sandwich

Bob Hyland over at Inside Urban Green
will be demo-ing recycled sub-irrigated planters
on the Waterpod
(green with envy am I)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Eating What You Grow

It helps to be a bit of a cook. A curious one.

For the past month I've had a lot of chard and kale. It's a little overwhelming to be honest. "Eat your vegetables!" is connected to some unpleasant memories.


Looks good, but what is it?

Another clue -

Chard Pie.

What makes it come alive is the Turkish red pepper and walnut sauce, or Muhammara, that sits on top.

Another interesting prep for kale is slow roasting which results in something similar to nori. Both of which can be added to cucumber salad, btw.

Bittman's Vegetarian cookbook is a terrific resource for gardeners. Especially if you want some new ideas on what to do with all the (_________ ) you've grown.


In other garden news, most plants are growing nicely. One type that didn't do anything this year was broccoli and brussels sprouts. They grew full size but never set up complete heads; it's not a total loss, a friend of mine juices the leaves--they aren't bad saut├Ęd either.

My rooftop tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are setting up plenty of fruits. The beans, cukes, summer squash, and melons are only a couple of feet tall; I think all the cold weather we had earlier this summer set them back a bit.

The sunchokes, this pic is a month old, are about 6 feet tall right now.

Down on the ground, my potato box vines are about a foot above the top of their box but haven't flowered yet. Probably another month to go until they're ready.

It looks like I'm going to have plenty of extra produce in a month. Any ideas on what to do with it?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

An Automatic Watering System Saved My Garden

Water is vital to a garden. Too much or too little water can affect your plants considerably. This is one of the great advantages of SIPs (sub-irrigated planters). The water variable is pretty much taken care of – as long as the water reservoir stays full and the potting mix does not dry out, your plants get just the amount of water they require.

This theory is all well and good if you’re around to fill the water reservoir. In the summer heat, large plants can easily use an entire reservoir of water, sometimes two. If you plan to travel at all; you’ll need a back-up plan.

Some people use irrigation drip methods, timers, or even a Hudson valve in a central water reservoir. All of these applications can work and I looked into them for my system but fortunately, Earthbox took away some of the guessing and work with their proprietary system.

Here’s where the Earthbox’s Automatic Watering System (AWS) saved my garden. I installed it a few weeks before two back to back weeks of travel – one for personal and one for work. I knew I wasn’t going to be around and needed something to get water to my plants.

I have 12 boxes and Earthbox sells a 12 box kit for $160.00. Seems a little expensive but I took in account trying to piece something together and the time it would take and thought it was well worth the price. The kit includes one regulator, 12 sensors with fill tubes, eleven black t-connectors, one white t-connector, two reducers, 100 feet of ¼ inch tubing, and 25 feet of 1/8 inch tubing. The instructions were pretty minimal but it was easy enough to figure out. This system is expandable to up to 30 boxes.

First, I installed a splitter on my water spigot so that I could have a dedicated line to the garden. I used a 25 foot RV hose, which is safe for potable water, and attached the regulator to it. I made sure to raise the regulator so that it is higher than the sensors on the boxes (picture).

Then, I ran the ¼ inch tubing along my boxes, cutting wherever I needed a break and installing a black t-connector. Then I connected the 1/8 tubing from the t-connector to the sensor that sits in the fill tube. The sensor works on pressure. If the tube is in the water, it’s happy. The moment the water level drops, the circular sensor on the top of the fill tube drips water into the box to the desired level. It’s that easy.

One thing I learned along the way was that you should use hot water to soak the tubing before attempting to install t-connectors. The hot water softens the plastic and allows you to fit the tubing over the barbed part of the connector. Once connected, the tubing cools and shrinks over the connector, forming a water tight seal. The instructions recommended oil or petroleum jelly but I would recommend against that since the ends could end up being too slippery to work with.

It works great and I don’t have to worry a bit about over or under watering, especially when I’m out of town. Another added benefit is that you won’t waste one drop of water. How’s that for conservation?

Friday, July 3, 2009


They're not grown in SIPs, much less on a rooftop. Heirloom? I have no idea.

There's something appealing about walking over to a neighbors house (Thanks Claude!) and shaking her Mulberry tree for dessert. The only real work involved is picking out a few twigs from the takings.

They are delicious eaten plain, topped with yogurt, or in a simple tart.

H2 and I spread out an old bedsheet under the tree and Art shook the branches with a pole.

On a related note, I'd like to thank Art and Chel at Pleasant House for reminding me that Juneberries/Serviceberries are edible. Add to that bit of info the fact that I've got one growing in my sideyard...........