Sunday, May 31, 2009

Reading Round Up: End of May Edition

Bucolic Bushwick a Brooklyn Rooftop Container Vegetable Garden

Newsflash: rising interest in gardening! Back to the land from the Boston Globe, Massachusetts.

Three good reasons to garden, Food Citizen: Your garden offers several health benefits from the Ithaca Journal, New York.

Foodie Mama offers an informative guide to growing cucumbers. I'll have to save this for next year since this season's seeds never sprouted.

Lastly, the New York Times reviews a few gardening books. At some point I'm going to add that Rodale encyclopedia to my collection.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Vegetable Plant Update 3 2009

Bushwick Rooftop Vegetable Garden
Tomatoes: It's been about 3 weeks since they've been in the rooftop garden and they're doing great. They've completely shaken off their phosphorous deficiency and their stems and leaves are noticeably thicker and fuller. Lots of new leaves and a few flowers.

Peas: These were direct sowed at the end of March. They're nice and healthy, about a 18 inches tall with a few flowers. Also, I no longer have to create supports for them to climb since they're using the reed fence to do so.

Peppers: It's been just under 2 weeks since they were transplanted. New leaves are just starting to appear. The older leaves look a little wind battered, but other than that so far, so good.

Eggplants: These were transplanted the same time as the tomatoes. They look great, their stems are thicker and the new leaf growth is much hardier to the elements than the older leaves, which are much paler and frailer in comparison.

Cucumbers: They never sprouted! I direct sowed a bunch of seeds mid april, 3 weeks later when none of them sprouted I sowed a bunch more. Again, nothing. I'm assuming I got a bad batch and will wait till next year to try again.

Broccoli: These were planted a week ago in my new DIY self watering container so they still look the same to me. I've been using the remaining part of the tote as a wind collar to great effect. No leaf shredding whatsoever!

Update: Ooops! Forget to add an expense: 2 grow box staking kits. These are the green poles you see in the rectangular planters.

2 Grow Box Staking Kits: $54.85

Running Total: $193.50

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Reading Round Up: Memorial Day Edition

Bucolic Bushwick a Brooklyn Rooftop Container Vegetable Garden

Garden gnomes: Yea or nay? I used to think they were silly, but lately I've been considering getting one for my garden patch. Gnomes infiltrate RHS Chelsea Flower Show from Times Online, England.

I've read countless articles about community gardens, but this is the first I've read about a portable one. Portable garden will grow moveable feasts from The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah.

Another way to garden: straw bales! Swap soil for straw to grow a garden from WRAL, North Carolina.

In L.A. more restaurants are growing gardens. In L.A.'s restaurant gardens, freshness is grown to order from the Los Angeles Times, California.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

DIY Self Watering Container and Mini Greenhouse from 2 Storage Totes: Basic Edition

Welcome to Bucolic Bushwick. Here you'll find advice on rooftop vegetable gardening, as well as several plans for DIY self watering planters. Please share this page with others and help spread the vegetable gardening movement.

A different version of this planter is available here.

To make this self watering container I used two plastic totes and a sturdy, plastic colander. One tote will be cut down to act as a water reservoir, the other tote will hold the soil and the colander will be used as a wicking chamber to draw water from the water reservoir into the soil above. If you have lids for these totes save them for later use.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Reading Round Up: Mid May Edition

Bucolic Bushwick a Brooklyn Rooftop Container Vegetable Garden

Here's what I've been reading this past week.

Recession gardening grows and grows: Enthusiasm sprouting up for communal gardening from the Star Ledger, New Jersey.

Moms: Classrooms move to the garden for lessons on healthy eating from the Deseret News, Utah. My mom had a garden plot in elementary school, I wish I was taught this stuff when I was that age.

Seattle, Washington tells veggie gardeners to setback their plants 3 feet from the curb. I wouldn't do this even if it was allowed. Car exhaust and vegetables do not go well together. Plus thanks for not charging me a fee for growing my own food! City drops fees for food gardening in planting strips from the Ballard-News Tribune, Washington.

Ok, now I'm impressed: raised beds on a roof! Winter gardening in Wisconsin! One Milwaukee gardener takes it to the roof from, Wisconsin.

Finally, the New York Times asks urban gardeners how much lead is in your soil? I find it amusing that they recommend placing gardens "away from buildings." How exactly are you supposed to do that this in this city?

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Windy Weather

Bushwick Rooftop Vegetable Garden with Reed Fence
It's as I feared, the wind is doing a number on my plants. One morning the wind was so strong it shredded some of the leaves on my poor transplants. That same day I went out and bought a reed fence to act a wind break. I doubt it'll age well, but as long at it lasts the growing season I'll be happy.

Reed Fence: $25.98

Running Total: $126.08

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Vegetable Plant Update 2 2009

Bushwick Rooftop Container Vegetable Garden
As promised, the peppers have joined all the other vegetables in the rooftop garden.

4 orange and 4 yellow bell pepper plants are in the Grow Box self-watering container in the center, the jalapeno is in the 12" container on the right and my 1 red/green bell pepper is in the 12" container on the left.

The tomato plants are doing much better. I guess the black plastic mulch really helped, I see no new signs of phosphorus deficiency. Yay!

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Phosphorus Deficiency & Useful Tomato Troubleshooting Site

Rooftop Garden Vegetable Disease
I noticed discoloration on the lower leaves of my tomato plants so I searched through the books I owned for a cause, problem was none of the books had detailed photos to accompany their disease descriptions. I had a hard time narrowing down the possibilities so I put the books away and went to the web.

The Texas Extension Office has a great guide to identifying tomato plant problems, the Tomato Problem Solver. They separate the site into 5 sections: green fruit, ripe fruit, leaf, stem and root. Clicking on a link takes you to a list of disorders with nice, detailed pics of their symptoms. No more second guessing!

Turns out the tomatoes have phosphorus deficiency.
Phosphorus deficiency is most often manifested as purpling of the leaves, particularly the leaf veins. In severe cases the whole plant may take on a purple hue. Tomato roots growing in cold soil, either in the greenhouse or the field, take up phosphorus poorly.
It has been continually cloudy and rainy since I transplanted them so I'm not surprised this happened. The celebrity tomatoes were mildly affected and are already bouncing back so I'm not worried about them, but the cherry tomato looks pretty sad. I'm going to cover the soil with black plastic mulch, add some more container booster mix and hope for the best.

Texas A&M's Tomato Problem Solver

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Vegetable Plant Update 1 2009

Rooftop Container Vegetable GardenAfter about a week of hardening off the tomatoes and eggplants they're finally in their permanent homes in the rooftop container vegetable garden. The celebrity tomatoes are in a Garden Patch Grow Box. This self-watering container is similar to the Earthbox, it has a 4 gallon reservoir so you can go a little bit longer between waterings (the Earthbox has a 3 gallon reservoir). The cherry tomato and the eggplants are in 16" pots from Home Depot with 1 gallon self-watering conversion kits from Snow peas are in the 12" inch self watering container on the left.

I hope they all adapt well to their new environment. It can get very windy up here, none of the adjacent buildings are taller than mine, as a result there is nothing around to act as a windbreak. I might have to go overboard with plant supports.

Next week: peppers!

Rooftop Container Vegetable Garden Pepper Plants

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Dirty Thoughts

Self Watering Container Mix and Booster Mix
Within the next few days I'll be transferring the tomato plants and eggplants to their permanent home. I'll be using the container mix I bought last year plus a couple of new bags I bought this year. Since the soil from last year will be rather weak I bought some booster mix from to replenish the depleted nutrients. By using this mix I can avoid buying all new soil and, more importantly, I won't have to lug heavy bags of dead weight up 5 flights of stairs! My mover had to do that when we moved here in December. The look on his face when he realized he had to carry garbage bags filled with dirt to the top floor of a walk-up was priceless.

2 Bags of Container Booster Mix: $19.90
2 Bags of Self-Watering Container Mix: $19.90

Running Total: $100.10

Update: apparently I can't count. The rooftop is the 5th floor, so I have to climb 4 flights, not 5, to get there. Pardon my idiocy.

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