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Gardening in the City Blog
Spring is coming to the urban garden PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 07 March 2009 12:15
Winter orchids in the window

Today seems like the first day of spring. Over sixty degrees on our terrace/front yard area. Half a dozen fence boxes have been put out. The front stoop is full of pots getting ready, 3 very large pots will be put on wheels for mobility (And to catch the sun's rays). Urban areas tend to have limited light due to buildings and shadow. Having things be mobile lets you take advantage of the light there is. Early evening and morning light tends to be red, most plants like the blue light energy of mid day, so if you can move things around you'll be ahead of the game.

Indoor tomato

You have to go slow though, winter can still come back and slap you down. This small plot of a yard with 2 fruit trees and roses will host one raised bed box with another on the concrete terrace. I'm planning on chicken wire covers for these due to the wildlife around here (especially groundhogs). Need to get the composting going and will be hunting out a container at a local hardware store.

Seedlings are being started inside hitching a ride on the aerogardnen lights and include strawberry, tomatoes (early girl), small peppers, lettuce, catnip and radish. The aerogardens are going pretty good with greens and small tomatoes along with the pots of rosemary, parsely, a purple basil, scraggly lavender plant and some chives and strawberry plants that stayed outside over winter. The goal is to get as much food as possible out of this very small urban space. (Along with some flowers of course...).

indoor herbs
Last Updated on Saturday, 07 March 2009 12:27
Growing salads inside in the winter. PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 February 2009 17:12
Winter tomato

The tomatoes (sweet snack variety) are getting started now and we have been harvesting salad greens and herbs here 2 to 3 times a week from the Aerogarden and the herb pots. Combined with local winter veggies (like fried Kale - tastes great), pureed squash. mushrooms, potatoes and other root veggies we are trying to eat "deep in the season".

Winter Lettuce

Try growing herbs like basil, thyme, parsely and rosemary. If you've got a south facing window and about 5 hours of sun, you can find plenty of planting kits with soil and the herb seeds, sometimes with their own little "greenhouse" just for starting them. It is worth the effort to have these growing fresh in your home.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 February 2009 17:25
Winter Orchids PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 21 January 2009 11:06
pink orchid

Orchids are having a grand old time in the bay window...These two phalenopsis along with the purple dendrobium start off the festivities. They are followed later by the yellow and spotted phalenopsis that start around February-March. Nothing like seeing the snow outside and having colors and flowers of the garden inside. My way of saying "feh" to winter.

winter orchids

Photos: Kim Funk

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 11:13
Salad growing in January PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 18 January 2009 17:17

Here are the latest shots (courtesy of Kim Funk) of the indoor salad bar about a month later. These two gardens were started on Dec. 16th (tomatoes) and 17th (salad greens). The tomatoes already have some flower buds starting. The growth is pretty impressive and the root systems on these thrive in the water and air combination. The lights play a big part. Vegetables and herbs seem to require much more blue light than the orchids.

Salad Greens in Aerogarden Jan. 18

Tomatoes in Aerogarden Jan. 18

Growing a salad has always been the goal and we've learned that the timing here could have been better - staggering plants (including in the homemade aeroponic grower) so there is always something besides the herbs available. It's a learning process, trying to grow part of your diet.

We are going to implement square foot gardening starting next spring and I am lobbying away to get up on the roof with it too, along with putting up a solar panel or two. I've seen new designs for wind turbines that don't utilize blades spinning (they are more like those things you see spinning around on roofs that are contained rounded blades -- hey if it will run a pump or light for me -- I'm in.

If things are ever going to change here in regards to energy use, urban areas must be a part of it. That means apartment houses, townhouses, etc. It would do everyone including young people good to get outside and actually create something they can USE. We've already let things get overbuilt without any regard for sustainability in our cities and suburbs. We need tax breaks for alternative energy and incentives for the people to conserve water, (runoff) grow some of their own food (whether individually or in community gardens) and make their homes/apartments more energy efficient. California is attempting to implement alternative energy and conservation steps. Here is the link to the program about California's energy future that appeared on Nova last night. January 20, 2009.
The Big Energy Gamble.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 11:05
Growing Salads inside in the winter. PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 04 January 2009 17:12

The two Aerogardens are getting up to speed. The Aerogarden classic is used for Salad greens
Salad Greens Classic  Aerogarden
and the Aerogarden Pro 200 (below) is used for the Sweet Snack tomatoes. (larger than cherry tomotoes but not full size) The trellis on the Pro 200 becomes important for these as well as the lamp height.
Tomato Aerogarden Pro 200
They were started about a week before Christmas. In the back are the tomatoes started in the home made aeroponics unit as well a cayenne pepper plant and some purple basil and coriander. Those tomatoes have been put in a pot with a stake and soil due to their size. The fertilizers for those tomatoes are Miracle Grow and a little Sea Magic seeweed powder (available from Burpee). The Aerogarden comes with it's own fertilizer tablets which work really well. Purple basil, parsley (below) and coriander are piggybacking on the Aerogarden lights in smaller pots.
Parsley Growning inside
The rosemary, lavender and other basil plants are in South East windows... Right now it's just herbs but soon there will be greens and about a little more than a month or so we should start to see tomatoes. The goal is a salad/herbs for a family of 2-3. Homegrown!

An invaluable aid for any urban gardener is Mel Bartholomew's "ALL NEW SQARE FOOT GARDENING" available at Amazon here. When the spring comes, the ideas in it are great for cramped urban areas. The ideas make a lot of sense in terms of who you are growing for - your family - so you don't need to be using big farm techniques that depend on rows for volume and harvesting. This can work out for rooftop gardens, stoops, fence boxes and deck gardens too.

If you are in an area like we are, Jersey City, - known more for brown fields than green ones - raised beds are, along with containers and fence or window boxes, a better solution. Unless you want to completely dig out and replace the questionable top soil that is... The screening with chicken wire top for the box is also a helpful idea if you have voracious groundhogs, squirrels, feral cats and hungry birds around. Here, even in Jersey City, we have possums, skunks, groundhogs, rabbits, racoons, feral cats and plenty of bird species all within view of Manhattan.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 11:06
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photo: Jeannie Cote


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