The Grow Op – an urban gardening experiment

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.


May 15, 2009, 10:37 am
Filed under: Herbs, Plants | Tags: , , ,

Ok so I will admit it: Some nights, when the weight of the world is too much to bear, I have some trouble sleeping. And when those dark, dark nights come around, and all my problems are a closin’ in, I like to have a little herbal tea to try and get to sleep. But the good stuff usually doesn’t come cheap. So naturally i am going to grow it myself. ‘They’ – and by they I mean SKYNET aka the Internet – tell me chamomile is easy to grow, and can be pretty continuously harvested by popping off the head of the flowers and drying them. This supposedly actually triggers more growth in the plant, and can also allow you to indulge a little childhood rhyming (“Momma had a baby and her HEAD POPPED OFF”)! I have also planted some catnip (yeah, its nice in tea!) but it isnt sprouting,and I begin to lose hope.

Chamomile is a bit of a slow starter. I planted these seeds what seems like a long time ago, and have these sprouts to show for it:

Chamomile Sprouts


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!

April 23, 2009, 12:38 am
Filed under: Herbs, Prep | Tags: , , , ,

Despite my categorical failure to get my sun room cleared out this past weekend, I did make an effort to get something into the ground: Herbs.

My teeny herb garden

As you can see it is in a container, and indoors. I will pass along a warning that I received from my friendly neighbourhood garden store clerk: Herbs don’t tend to do well indoors, with a few exceptions; basil, cilantro and chives. If you know of some others, feel free to discuss in the comments. Apparently this has to due with the relative humidity in the average household – the plants tend to dry out. I have decided to take the risk. I have (from left to right) curry (this might not be edible sadly, but it smells great!), winter savory, oregano, rosemary, and parsley (the space will be for basil, discussed below). I am hoping that consistent fresh air from the window and the occasional spritz of water on the foliage will keep them healthy. If not, i may have to stash them somewhere in my courtyard, guerrilla gardener style! Having herbs in a container should be fine, as long as their is ample drainage.

Dark Opal Basil
The garden store did not have a basil plant started, so i decided to start some from seed. I found a very interesting type of basil called Dark Opal. Basil is very easy to grow from seed (apparently). I have put about 1/2 dozen seeds in a small plant pot about 6mm into the soil. I soaked the soil with water, and now wait for the botanical magic to start! I will post pics once I get some sprouts.

More on curry later.