The Grow Op – an urban gardening experiment


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



“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.



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.



Roll Call
May 13, 2009, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Information, Plants, Prep | Tags: , , , , ,

OK so it has been awhile since i actually talked about real plants that are living (for now) in my apartment. Since they are a pretty big part of a garden, I will give you a comprehensive update on what is now growing, my process for adding them to the garden, and my expectations. I will post these over the next couple days, in the interest of dragging it out like a daytime drama.

See? You are already addicted! Lets start with a review:

Herbs (Rosemary, Savory, Parsley, Oregano): These guys are doing ok on my living room window sill, and will soon migrate to the sun room. I added an Italian Basil plant, which is doing tremendously well, as Basil apparently is known for. It still makes me feel successful, though. The only plant that seems to be struggling a little is the Rosemary – it tends to dry out, As I was warned it might. I hope that the move to the much more humid sun room will fix this.

Dark Opal Basil: I originally was going to plant this with the other herbs, but changed my mind for several reasons. First, I wanted to grow a more traditional strain of basil. Second, the Dark Opal is a beautiful plant, and will look beautiful fully developed in its own pot – and it could probably live anywhere in the house, including the kitchen. I also had so many healthy sprouts that I had to split a bunch out of the seedling container I had. I now have about 6 Dark Opal plants, which I plan to give away as a cheap gift idea to my more culinary or botanical friends*.

“The Big Bite” Tomatoes: I inverted two tomato plants in buckets last week (there is a protracted demo in my David Suzuki Video). They are doing ok for now – I think they are still adjusting to their new alternative lifestyle. They are growing in some weird directions right now, but they seem to be growing – and that is whats important!

Stay tuned for the new additions…

*If you receive a basil plant from me as a gift, they are not cheap at all and exact a steep emotional cost to give away, as they are like my little baby children



Curry Plant
April 25, 2009, 12:39 am
Filed under: Herbs, Information | Tags: , ,

I did a little research on my curry plant (aka helichrysum italicum). Here is a pretty comprehensive writeup.

When I bought it I was already aware that curry powder wasn’t from an individual plant, but thought this might be an ingredient. It smells EXACTLY like curry. At some later date perhaps I will experiment with creating an essential oil. Thats what this adventure is all about!