The Grow Op – an urban gardening experiment


Holding Patterns
August 19, 2009, 2:21 pm
Filed under: Flowers, Fruit, pests, Plants, Vegetables

The garden has not appreciably degenerated in the last few weeks, but I am not really seeing any improvement. I think the chamomile is dead, so i will probably try to resprout some and start again. I am pretty good at the first part of the gardening process, so I am ok with this. I managed to beat back the aphid infestation enough to get the peppers to bounce back. this required some pruning, and a lot of close combat soapy water spraying. I was basically using the force of the spray bottle to blast the little bastards off. They are coming back a little, but i have been vigilant, so the plants seem to have some healthy new growth. I doubt i will get any peppers this year. The main problem may have been a lack of pollination (only one of each plant) but i think i may try to cross pollinate these two plants and get some mildly hot red pepper combo. Or a horribly mutant pepper-creature that will terrorize the Lower Mainland. Either way – genetics! The eggplant fruit stopped getting bigger, so i used them in a delicious tomato ragu-type omelette filling. Hopefully i will get a few more before the growing season is over.



Concerning Aphids
August 11, 2009, 10:56 am
Filed under: pests | Tags:

Well I think I beat back the invasion a fair but. All told, they got to my hot pepper, red pepper, and eggplant (not seriously). In the end I sprayed the shit out of all three plants using a mild dish detergent solution, and it seemed to help, but not wipe them out. Part of the problem is i have no beetles, ladybugs, lacewings or wasps to devour the little bastards. so when i knock them off i am not sure what happens, but i know they dont get eaten, unfortunately. I also made sure i got the nozzle very close the the new growth spots and really blasted them, knocking many of the aphids off the plant and hopefully drowning them or poisoning them horribly.

I also had to prune some of the worst sites right off the plant and destroyed them. This seems to have stopped the worst of the problem, and some clear new growth has started on the two pepper plants.



All is Not Lost. Some is Lost, But Not All
August 10, 2009, 10:55 am
Filed under: Flowers, Herbs, Plants, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , ,

My Friends, please take a moment to bow your heads and acknowledge the losses of these past few weeks: Brave Sunflower, Valiant Dill Weed, Innocent Dark Opal Basil – we hardly new ye. Also among the casualties are the severely injured Chamomile, and the Peppers have some kind of infection from some unsavory mulch.

Finally, I think the tomato twins might be retarded.

But in brighter news, a lot of plants bounced back. I am making some tea with catnip and lime mint. I harvested a nice sized cucumber, and there are some beautiful eggplants coming in! And I saved one Dark Opal sprout, which is coming back beautifully.

Pictures of the harvest to follow.



Aphids and the Approaching Armageddon
July 30, 2009, 10:00 am
Filed under: Flowers, Herbs, Plants, Vegetables | Tags: , , ,

So I did not expect anything approaching a pest problem in my lovely little sunroom – boy was I wrong. I have had a massive aphid infestation, which i noticed right before i left town for ten days. I knocked them off where I saw them and hoped for the best. Apparently that is not a comprehensive pest control strategy. Having returned last night, it was an Aphid orgy on my red and hot pepper plants. Oh, how I wept and raged and shook my fist at the gods…But that didnt work, so I tried a solution from my good friend Janet – literally: I used a weak soap solution and sprayed the shit out of those little bastards this morning. I will keep you all updated on the results, but Janet’s reports were of unmitigated success.

In brighter news, I have a huge cucumber! No, not (just) in my pants, but also in my garden. I was having major problems with my cucumbers being shriveled and pathetic – also not just in my pants. It turns out that they need a serious water supply, and I wasnt being diligent enough about keeping my SIP full of water. Moral of the story: Cucumbers are mostly water.

But all these issues pale in comparison to the nuclear A-bomb that our supposed ally THE SUN dropped on my garden over the last few days. The heat has totally decimated my poor garden! I basically spent the morning doing triage, as most of the flowers (Catnip, Chamomile, and Sunflower) were badly burned, and looking awfully sad. Also my herbs took a beating. I don’t think a couple of them are going to recover.

Light a candle for my garden, friends…



CSA Week 2
June 27, 2009, 1:07 pm
Filed under: CSA | Tags: , , ,

CSAWeek2

This week i got some weird stuff along with some more regular fare. I got the usual bag of delicious salad greens. I got another pound of snow peas. I got a bunch of young kale, and a bundle of fragrant spearmint. That is where the familiarity ended. I got something called amaranth, which is a spinach-like green. I got garlic scapes, which are like young garlic, i gather. I got a bunch of young fennel, which would have been better if i hadn’t used it almost exclusively in a recipe. The flavour definitely needs to be used wisely and sparingly! And i got a head of escarole, which is like a slightly more bitter but mostly just more delicious form of leaf lettuce. Perhaps sensing my approaching bewilderment, my friendly neighbourhood farmer included in via email an excellent collection of recipes for using some of the less familiar items. I tried a garlic scape and amaranth fritatta last night, and it was absolutely delicious. The emails are sent weekly and contain info about the items in the box for the week, along with the occasional anecdote about the growing process, which I find is a refreshing way to connect better with the food you are eating. It certainly beats the Safeway.

This is living.



Flower Power
June 27, 2009, 12:53 pm
Filed under: Flowers, Plants, Vegetables | Tags: , ,

Lately my garden has been looking like the Garden of Eden – at least if the Garden of Eden was in a small 2-bedroom apartment. Many of my vegetable plants are flowering like crazy, so i thought i would share some of them with you.

EggplantFlower

This is my eggplant (eggplant plant?). By far the prettiest flower to me, but i think i am more excited about this plant than any of my other ones, so i might be biased.

RedPepperFlower

here is the Red Pepper plant. It has gotten “big early” just like it’s name implies. It has actually been flowering the longest, but not a lot of delicious pepper action just yet.

CukeFlower

My cucumbers take the cake for most numerous flowers. It has dozens of them. I am starting to understand the behaviour of this plant a lot better. First of all it crawls around like crazy. It is everywhere now, as demonstrated in a previous post. And it has these huge shady leaves. I think this is to protect the fruit as it begins to develop, because what i am seeing now is a lot of cucumbers starting to grow, and then turning brown and withering. It naturally stays on the ground as well, so you could imagine big healthy cucumbers languishing beneath huge shady leaves like Roman nobles. So my scaffolding may be thwarting this to a certain extent. A few of them that are getting ample shade are starting to get big! More on this in a subsequent post.

Flowerless Flowers

These are flower plants that are not flowering: the tall one is a sunflower, and the leafy stringy one is chamomile. I am waiting anxiously for the chamomile to flower so i can make my own delicious tea, and mix it with the catnip (the third plant) which doesn’t actually flower i don’t think but is in the pic anyway. The sunflower has been growing strong, but may need more sunlight to get a really nice bloom. hopefully later in the summer it will get more direct sun.



Climbing Cucumbers
June 17, 2009, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Plants, Vegetables | Tags: , ,

Cucumbers June

So it didnt take me long to realize that there was no way I was keeping these cucumbers contained in my SIP. they creeped everywhere, and were climbing everything, other plants, curtains, everything. If you have never seen a vining plant go to work, it is pretty amazing. they have these little tendrils that they wrap around whatever they can get a hold of.

So I knew I had to do something. Then, I was walking to the library and i saw what i needed. Unfortunately It was in the back of somebody’s vintage truck. In a pile of junk. So I stole it.

The chicken wire was perfect. I used that and some scrap wood from a nearby construction site, and i was in business. You can see the results in the photo above. The cukes LOVED it, and experienced explosive growth. I have had to prune it a bunch to keep it from hassling the carrots.

I am definitely going to need to make pickles.




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