The Grow Op – an urban gardening experiment

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


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.


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.


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.


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.

A Progress Report
June 15, 2009, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Herbs, Information, Plants, Vegetables

I figure by now you are all wondering how the garden is doing! it has been two months since i decided to try this experiment, and probably about 6 weeks since i started growing. So here is a quick picture of what the garden looks like today:

Garden June

Amazing right? I am so excited that everything is growing so far, and really enjoying tending to these plants and seeing how they progress every day. I will try and update you individually as real momentous growth and/or flowering starts to occur. Like those cucumbers on the far right!! holy jumpin’!! More on those to follow soon.

Oops! I almost forgot the stars of the video:

Tomatoes June

CSA Week 1
June 15, 2009, 9:24 pm
Filed under: CSA, Vegetables | Tags:


It finally happened. I received my first box from my friendly neighborhood farmer! After work today I took a stroll 4 and a half blocks away to the Kitsilano drop off site for Glorious Organics Farms’ Community Supported Agriculture program. What I found was a rubbermaid bin with my name on it in the shade of what may or may not have been some kind of hippy commune. Imagine – in Kitsilano! Nowhere is safe, anymore.

Anyway, what i found is what you see in the photo above (vodka not included):

A huge bag of spring greens;
A huge bag of spinach;
2 huge bok choy heads – the wouldnt fit properly in my fridge they were so long;
a huge bunch of radishes;
a bag of delicious snow peas;
and an admittedly disappointing bunch of rhubarb. But rhubarb is not by nature an exciting plant.

This box cost me $25*. It is all organic, and grown less than 50KM away in Aldergrove. And it tastes amazing. I am pretty sure eating these vegetables is going to make me stronger, smarter, more attractive and sexually potent than ever before. And you can get those results too. Look into a local CSA! Glorious Organics has drop offs in Kits, at 24th and Main, and on Commercial. You can also pick up at the farm. For more info, feel free to clamour in the comments.

*$500 paid in advance for 20+ boxes

June 6, 2009, 4:58 pm
Filed under: Fruit | Tags: , ,


So the other day I reaped the first rewards from my garden. I had three strawberries ripen over the last week or so. They were delicious.* Not very filling, but delicious.

*: Actually they were kind of bitter

I am hoping that after this year i can let the strawberries take over the entire SIP, but we will see.

The New Kids
June 5, 2009, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Plants, Vegetables | Tags: , , ,

I recently added a few more plants to my garden:

“Fairy Tale” Eggplant
This is an interesting looking variety that is best harvested when the eggplants are in a baby stage. The plant doesnt get too big, so it seemed like a good fit for a container.

“Kung Pao” Hot Peppers

This plant just caught my eye in the nursery. it apparently becomes loaded with very hot green and red chili-like peppers. The insert says they are 10,000 scovilles. One second while I look up what the hell that means…


The Scoville scale is a measure of the hotness or piquancy of a chili pepper, as defined by the amount of capsaicin (a chemical compound that stimulates nerve endings in the skin) present. In Scoville’s method, a solution of the pepper extract is diluted in sugar syrup until the “heat” is no longer detectable to a panel of (usually five) tasters; the degree of dilution gives its measure on the Scoville scale. Thus a sweet pepper or a bell pepper, containing no capsaicin at all, has a Scoville rating of zero, meaning no heat detectable, even undiluted. Conversely, the hottest chilis, such as habaneros, have a rating of 200,000 or more, indicating that their extract has to be diluted 200,000 times before the capsaicin presence is undetectable.

Sounds awfully precise. There was a little scale on the wikipedia page too that indicates 10,000 is a little hotter than a jalapeno, which seems like a good fit for me.

Sobraya Sunflower


This was a gift from some friends of ours for my girlfriend’s birthday. It wasnt doing great in the soil we got it in, but as soon as i repotted i, it has exploded with growth. It has also gotten very nice this past week, so that might have something to do with it.