Monday, April 25, 2011

Leafy Spring Greens 2011: Three Ways of Growing

Celebrating spring greens grown in Chicago using three approaches here at the urban ranch:

On the roof in 5-gal bucket SIPs  These get full April sun and are already producing steadily. They'll truly come into their own in May when the sun spends more time on them.

2  On our south-facing windowsill in portable microgardens  These mini-SIPs get a bit more April sun and warmth than the planters on the roof, owing to their location facing full-south and being lower than roof height. Currently they're producing most heavily of the three locations (note the tuft of miner's lettuce in foreground--delectable).

3  In a (beautiful birthday gift) cedar raised bed built by Art. The bed is positioned to use the maximum light available in our courtyard--maybe 4 hours of full sun in summer--and these greens are planted in 20 years worth of composted soil. Notably, they require lots of washing before eating because of soil splash when it rains (mulching will help limit this). Another water-saving/time-sparing benefit to SIP growing.

One advantage here: these greens should continue producing well into the hot summer months without going to seed because of their relatively shady location. Might build a low tunnel over this baby for next spring.
    Also seeding this bed with a backlog of diverse radish and carrot varieties, something I don't devote any precious rooftop space to.

    We're struck by the variation in productivity of the three methods/locations. It's a good reminder to explore growing in places you might not have considered.

    We're crazy for spring greens and I'm harvesting every day. In addition to flavor, every bowl is an antioxidant powerhouse. Imagine the amount of food we could grow in a semi-organized way via projects like this one

    Here's a lovely read on the transformative nature of growing by El at Fast Grow the Weeds.

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