The Grow Op – an urban gardening experiment


“Danvers Half-Long” Carrots
May 25, 2009, 12:30 pm
Filed under: Dirt and Soil, Plants, Prep, Vegetables | Tags: , , , ,

carrots

I decided to run two rows of carrots down the center of my SIP container. I chose these carrots mainly because they grow shorter and thicker. This seemed like a better plan in a container, but also for a purely experimental reason.

The day before i grabbed these seeds, my lovely girlfriend produced a container of something called Vermiculite that she had procured at some point in her adventurous work life. Vermiculite is an ore that is very light and holds moisture very well.* In an interesting coincidence, one of the packages of carrot seeds i was perusing the next day had instructions to use vermiculite to germinate them! An easy decision on which variety of carrots to plant, then.

The two rows of light brown material in the picture above is vermiculite, which i spaced some carrot seeds along in, and then loosely covered with a small amount of soil. In some of my previously posted pictures of the SIP you also may notice a piece of burlap. This helps prevent a crust from developing on the soil, and allows the delicate carrot sprouts to more easily break the soil. Carrots in general take about 3 weeks to sprout.

Which, FYI, HAPPENED TODAY!!! I was inspecting the SIP earlier today, and noticed a little sprout coming up through the burlap, and when i pulled the burlap away – there were dozens! I think this is a little on the fast side, which i credit to the vermiculite being lightweight and easy for the sprouts to push out of.

I tell ya, seeing those first sprouts after weeks of waiting is surprisingly exhilarating!

In a note unrelated to carrots, check out the cucumbers in the post below compared to how they look here. This pick was taken the day i transplanted them, while the one below was about 2 weeks later.

*While there are concerns surrounding vermiculite and asbestos (they develop near each other in deposits), it can still be handy in the garden. Do a little research. If there is a lot of dust in your vermiculite, then it is probably not safe to work with. Otherwise it is not in and of itself toxic.

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“Everbearing” Strawberries
May 24, 2009, 1:20 pm
Filed under: Dirt and Soil, Fruit, Information, Plants | Tags: , , , ,

strawberries

I bought this little seedling on a whim when i was walking down Commercial Drive. It was being sold along with some other seedlings in a bodega style fruit and vegetable stand. It already had a few little flowers, and looked pretty healthy.

There is a lot of information out there about strawberries, and it looks like without knowing it I chose a pretty good strain for a small indoor operation. There are 3 basic types of Strawberries: “Spring-” or “June-Bearing”, Ever-Bearing, and Day Neutral. The biggest crops seem to come from Spring-bearing, but there is only one crop per year, they tend to spread more using ‘runners.’ Ever-Bearing concentrate their energy on 2-3 harvests rather than spreading runners and daughter plants. There is a 4th type I saw mentioned, “Alpine,” but I didn’t really dig for info on that one or the Day Neutral.

I think if you are growing in a backyard plot, or commercially you probably want to go with Spring-bearing because they will propagate for you, can produce a big plot for the cost of a handful of plants.

Again, I am not sure how the strawberries will flourish in the SIP, but they definitely seem like a better fit than the Cukes. They tend to like a constant water supply. In fact i read that most large commercial operations tend to irrigate their fields – so I have that going for me.



“Straight Eight” Cucumbers
May 22, 2009, 1:11 pm
Filed under: Dirt and Soil, Plants, Vegetables | Tags: ,

cukes

I planted two cucumber plants from seedlings in the SIP. the variety is Straight Eight (make any applicable dirty jokes in the comments). These are apparently good for slicing, salads, and pickles, which were my primary targeted usages – honestly i am not sure what else you would use them for.

After some reading (which i like to do after i make my uninformed decisions on how to plant things) I found out that the cucumbers have rather shallow root systems, which may not make them ideal candidates for the SIP because as mentioned it seemed little dry on top. For now they seem to be doing pretty well.



Self-Irrigating Planter
May 21, 2009, 10:38 am
Filed under: Dirt and Soil, Information, Prep | Tags: , ,

SIP

This is a strategy that i learned from www.josho.com via Homegrown Evolution I won’t rehash all the steps here. The instructions were pretty clear, although it was harder than I expected finding non-PVC piping in the heart of the city! I also decided to skip the step where you put a tarp or otherwise cover the top of the planter. This may have been a mistake, however, since the top of the soil seems a little drier than i would like. I may start watering lightly if it seems really dry, but ideally this should not be necessary – you should never have to water this container. Why do this in my indoor garden? No good reason really, other than less water waste and it was fun to try.

For those of you who are too lazy to follow links, these containers have a water reservoir in them, as well as a sieve full of soil in the center of said reservoir that allows water to diffuse up into the rest of the soil. All that’s necessary is keeping the reservoir (somewhat) full.



Urban Compost
April 17, 2009, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Dirt and Soil | Tags:

One thing that has always bothered me living in this city is under-developed waste diversion. It seems like recycling is highly specific, and a good portion of recyclable plastic is not allowed in the bin. I have also seen quite a few green bin programs in other parts of the country (ok, only one: Mississauga), but none here.

In her defense, Vancouver has a pretty cool Worm Compost Bin program. They also offer backyard compost bins. This is for local residents only, but it is a great tool. For more information, or to sign up, call 604-736-2250.

I called today, and they were very helpful. BUT, to get an apartment compost bin, you have to take an hour-long seminar and pay a $25 dollar deposit. The wait list is pretty long, so if you are interested, I would suggest calling ASAP to sign up.

Here is another site that has great info about urban compost:
http://cityfarmer.org/wormcomp61.html

Next post, I get started on my sunroom conversion, and a nice indoor herb garden.