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Gardening in the City Blog
August in the Garden PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 01 August 2008 07:45

There is an old saying. "Eat deep in the season". What it means is, eat the food that is currently ripe and available. This is what great eating from Farmer's Markets is about. Trying to eat corn, peaches and tomatoes in January is a problem, they are never as good as in the summer. . Of course, once in a while a special treat out of season is fine (rasberries or strawberry shortcake).

Part of what is nice about having seasons is that there are different things available. Vacationing down on the Jersey Shore as a child, one of the things I liked best was great produce and fruit. Nothing can beat corn, tomatoes and peaches grown nearby. (ie, not gassed, refrigerated, etc.). I have invested in some indoor gardening tools, like the Aerogarden. I am aiming growing my salad fixings, small tomatoes and herbs all year long. It's a small step, growing a salad and one vegetable, but it is within reach even in urban areas. Of course, lots of space helps. I know a gardener who has half an acre and can grow just about all she needs.

However, a small space should not discourage urban dwellers from trying to use whatever space they have. Containers, aerponics, very small plot techniques, etc. can be used to grow food. Right now I use a combination of small plot, containers, aeroponics and patronizing farmer's markets. When you realize that during WWII the victory gardens produced (by one report) 40% of the vegetables consumed, it's an idea whose time has come again. Growing your own greens, herbs and tomatoes allows you to eat deep in the season all the time.

Last Updated on Friday, 01 August 2008 08:18
July in the Garden PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 July 2008 07:49

Welcome to summer in the garden. Just a few shots of the residents so far.
Photos: Kimberly Funk

Jersey City garden
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2008 16:18
Growing Lettuce PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 June 2008 10:41

Leaf lettuce is a good choice for an urban garden. This type does not produce a "head" at all, they produce leaves that are close to the ground. They can be planted in containers or window boxes. There are many types from Red Sails to mescalun mixes. In addition to being healthy, the different colors add a nice touch to your small yard or balcony. They can be harvested from multiple times. I usually have some growing while another batch is being started inside in seed starters. Most lettuce likes soil that is aerated (loose) and that has organic material as nutrient. Once weather gets hot, the plant will bolt (start producing seed and flowers). When this happens the leaves become more bitter. Try to plant in an area that has some shade protection. Prolonged exposure to heat and light will cause it to bolt.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 June 2008 11:31
Help getting rid of garden pests PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 07 June 2008 06:12

Help for controlling garden pests using eco-friendly methods

Here are some common garden pests and organics ways to send them packing.
I don't believe in using anything toxic anywhere near my family. You can also make
your own sprays with a combination of soapy water, alcohol, etc. Coffee grounds and eggshells will help repel ants, snails and slugs in the soil.
Aphids Vegetables, Flowers, Herbs,Shrubs, Trees Insecticidal Soap Lady Bugs
Potato Beetle Potato, Nightshade Plants including Petunias Bacillus Thuringiensis var. San Diego, Parasitic wasps (Endovum puttleri)
Cutworms (Several Euxoa & Agrotis species) Early Vegetables, Flower seedlings Bacillus Thuringiensis var. Kurstaki, Diatomaceous Earth
European Corn Borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) Corn, Beans, Onions, Peppers, Tomatoes, Flowers Bacillus Thuringiensis var. Kurstaki or Trichogramma nubibale when eggs are present
Cabbage Worm (Pieris repae) Cabbage Handpick w/ light manifestations, Spray larvae w/ Bacillus Thuringiensis var. Kurstaki
Leafhoppers, Vegetables, Flowers, Trees, Shrubs Insecticidal Soap, Parasitic Wasps, Rotenone

Visit the site below for more ways to control pests organically


Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 June 2008 11:33
Tips on Container Gardening PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 12 May 2008 09:42

You can use lots of different types of containers to grow plants in cramped city spaces. Pots, bottles, bowls, boxes, even bags of soil or cut off barrels. The best idea is to be sure to have a drainage hole on the bottom or you will have to be on them all the time to monitor for root rot. Plastic retains moisture better than clay. From my experience, the plastic usually heats up more quickly especially if it's a dark color. Consider this if you are putting plants in full sun.

Sizes of your containers can be mixed and matched to create a pleasing array of leaves and colors. Try mixing light lacy plants like ferns or baby's breath with daisies or cosmos for a pretty texture. You can also layer your plants on different levels to obtain interesting layouts.Buy metal plant stands or use wooden boxes to acheive different levels. I use the metal plant stands in the winter to give all my plants a shot at the sunlight in the bay window...

Try growing small plants like cherry tomatoes, strawberries, limes, lemons, chilipeppers or greens and herbs in containers. Make sure to have to proper drainage for these and use the right fertilizer combination for them. Most of these seem to prefer full sun. There is an old Chinese saying - "The best fertilizer in the garden is the gardener's own shadow". I have found that by keeping an eye on things you can stave off infestations by white flies, aphids, etc.. Then you can pick them off or use a simple soap spray to get rid of them before they become a major problem. You can make your own spray and avoid any toxic chemicals. Since we are talking about growing on an apartment balcony, small yard, roof etc. you probably aren't going to have a lot of space to keep up with.

It's best not to use soil from outside for your containers. It may contain bacteria, viruses, mold, insects or weeds. Buy the bags of soil that are the correct type for the plants you are trying to grow. There are basically two types of growing medium. Soil bases or peat based. Soil is heavier and can have organisms that can break down matter into minerals that are essential nutrients for the plant. Peat is lighter and doesn't have this capability so you will have to add food for the plants.

Types of Potting Mixes:

Bromeliad Mix - spongy, porous for shallow root systems

Bulb Fiber - light and drains easily. Good drainage is necessary for bulbs to avoid rot.

Soil based - heavy, retains moisture. May have organisms that break down material into nutrients. Good for foliage based plants.

Charcoal - helps absorb excess minerals. Used to "sweeten" the soil

Peat - usually no nutrients, is light.

Perlite - used for texture, aeration and drainage

Vermiculite - this substance retains water and nutrients

Aggregate - Clay pellets mix. Usually used in potting for water gardens, lillies and other aquatic plants.

Sphaghum Moss - Retains water and air. Commonly used as a growing medium for Phaelensopis orchids, etc.

TreeBark - holds nutrients and allows air to circulate. Used for dendrobium orchids and plants that like drier roots

Egg and Oyster shells - reduce acidity and help drainage

Limestone - helps drainage and helps control acidity

Sand - added to soil to aid in aeration.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 May 2008 06:43
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photo: Jeannie Cote


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