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

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

CSAWK1

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



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

Harvest

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
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

HotPepper
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…

*ahem*

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

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.



“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.



“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.