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Gardening in the City Blog
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
Gardening Inside PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 December 2008 17:46

The shot above is of the bay window. The garden has moved inside... There are now multiple spikes on the white, pink and spotted phalenopsi...along with a purple dendrobium. They should be blooming at about New Year's time. Below is a pic of some of the orchids. Really is a mood uplifter to have flowers starting at the same time winter is usually throwing its worst at us. -- Forced bulbs like amarylli and narcissus are great for winter blooming too.

On the indoor growing front, the tomatoes started in the homemade aeroponics unit have been tranferred to pots under a grow light. Word has it the pro version of the aerogarden with a trellis system is going to land here in the next day or so. Can't wait! Another planting of salad greens is going into the classic model of the Aerogarden. The goal is growing a salad and herbs here. Not a big goal and some might say expensive, but the electric usage on the garden is compensated for by turning off the tv, lighting that is not necessary and turning down the thermostat.

On my homemade unit, for the pods, I tried some polyester fiber for aquarium filters and the roots poked thru just fine. Well look at plant roots going through concrete outside - these guys are DETERMINED. They also seemed to penetrate and create a broader root "base". The homemade unit seems best for starting plants at this point, though it may be better for salad greens than a plant with heavy fruits (tomato, pepper). I'll give the salad stuff a try too.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 December 2008 17:57
Gardening Indoors PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 22 November 2008 14:22

Here are shots of the indoor growing section. The tomatoes in the home made aeroponic unit are the sweet snack cuttings from this past summer. Presently working on a support system for them (probably fine cord attached to what holds the grow light up. The three larger tomato plants in jars are Early Boy (hoping to keep them going for the large aerogarden from Santa). The two boxes are spicy and baby greens. (they go outside everyday when warm enough..) The salad greens in the Aerogarden are almost done and this will be replanted soon. The small pots in the back hold cilantro plants and a purple basil plant. There are hanging pots of lavender, mint and parsley in the bay window and rosemary and basil in a S/E facing window upstairs.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 November 2008 14:27
Orchids -blooms with staying power PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 November 2008 13:19

The orchid window festivities are just getting started. Pictured are 2 types of orchid that have just started blooming and sending out spikes (of buds). The switch of the sun to the south seems to trigger them. They were all given new moss and wood chips and anything looking dead or suspect on the roots was removed. Orchid food is given every two weeks. Neither the phalenopsis nor dendrobium like wet feet so they are misted and watered sparingly. The dendrobiums in particular thrive when kept pretty dry, the blossoms on them are purple and white. The phalenopsis are pink and a lovely white with a shell pink tinge...Sleeping are the yellow, fuschia, yellow spotted and pink spotted phalenopsi. One dendrobium has spikes and they bloom an unusual deep purple color. To add to the color a peach colored hibiscus brought inside has produced large flowers. Just having a bay window filled with these makes the dreary weather seem brighter.

Orchids can be purchased just about anywhere now. With care and attention they last for years. The blooms last for months adding color to the home. If you love having flowers around a small investment in one or a few ends up being much cheaper than buying cut flowers.

On the tomato front, the cuttings have been transferred to the home made aerponic unit. The roots are already reaching down into the water/nutrient and they seem to be doing well. As they grow larger a support system will have to be concocted. The Aerogarden of salad greens is nearing the end of it's cycle. It produced a lot of leaf lettuce for our salads. The window boxes of spicy greens are happy outside in the cooler weather, so we let them be for a while.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 November 2008 13:33
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photo: Jeannie Cote


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