Thursday, May 3, 2012

Getting Ready for Rooftop Planting

Now that May has arrived and evening temperatures are warming up I've begun the hardening off process.

I started at 2 hours a day and, so far, have worked up to putting them outside when I return from work and bringing them back in before I go to sleep. By Monday or Tuesday of next week I plan to put them out before I leave for work. By Friday of next week I plan to keep them out overnight so that they will be ready to plant on Saturday or Sunday.

If all goes well the tomato and pepper plants will be planted next weekend and the eggplant and melon plants the following weekend.

The Mountain Magic and Black Cherry tomato plants outgrew their cups so I had to pot them up again into yogurt tubs. They're very leggy, but I don't worry about this too much since tomato stems can be buried to promote root growth.

I'm determined to perfect my seed sowing timing so I can avoid extra work like this. Potting up twice is one time too many. I don't mind doing it, but creating unnecessary work is pointless. It's a waste of time, labor and resources, and I hate waste of any kind. Next year I'll start seeds at the beginning of April instead of the last week in March.

I made a bamboo trellis for the jumbo container. I skipped the zip ties this year and tried my hand at square lashing. I think I did okay, the structure remains stable when I push it around. We'll see how well it handles supporting weight in a few months.

If you are assembling several trellises do it before you plant. Do not think you can have all of them up the same day you plant, they take longer than you think.

Last year one of the cages for a Garden Patch planter was destroyed in a storm so this year the planter also got a bamboo trellis.

This section of the roof might be unfamiliar to you. I used to use the area for storage, so I never needed to photograph it for the blog. The area is now cleared out and will be the 4th gardening section on the roof. The section is sandwiched between the north side of the staircase and the skylight. It's shaded from mid to late afternoon sun and offers partial wind protection.

It is the only area on the roof that offers mid afternoon shade, hence it is the coolest spot on the roof. Right now the plan is to plant 2 tomato plants here, but in the coming months if another plant looks like it's struggling with hot temps I'll make room for it here. It's all part of my plan for preparing for the unexpected.

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  1. Wow, your plants look terrific! Looks like you will have a great season!

  2. Your blog is inspirational--I love it!

    I have a tiny city yard which is completely filled with veggies, herbs, and flowers, but I want a few more! Specifically, I'd like to grow a few more tomatoes and zucchini, which take up a lot of space. I have a white-coated flat roof on my 3-story house and have been thinking about putting a few large containers up there on a drip line and timer. I have a question for you though: how do you keep your plant roots cool enough? I'm guessing the double-walled self-watering containers help with that, but I don't have enough money to spend on those (I'll be using whatever I can find). Do you lift the planters up onto something, like a pallet, to help with drainage and heat? Do you shield them from afternoon sun at all?

    Thanks for any advice!

    1. Hi Lou, thanks for stopping by. I do a few things to keep them cool. The containers are painted white to reduce heat retention and they're raised on platforms, which are also painted white. I cover the soil too with white plastic to keep the soil cool. The plastic also helps with moisture retention so you can go longer between waterings.

      Some of the containers are shaded from afternoon sun and I'm trying to figure out a way to shield the other ones. Maybe something with shade cloth.

      If it gets really really hot this summer I'll seriously consider wrapping the containers in aluminum foil, shiny side out, to block even more light and heat.

    2. Awesome, thanks for the tips. This is all really helpful.


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