Saturday, July 24, 2010

Everyone's Got Issues

Seems like everyone has issues these days, including my plants, though I suppose 80% of this blog discusses my plant issues. Something's always going wrong! At least it's still fun and seeing new problems forces me to learn more about gardening in order to try and come up with solutions.

Today, I went up on the roof and the first thing I saw was the shriveled and rotten looking tomatoes on this plant! They look fearsome!
And it's not blossem end rot because it didn't start from the bottoms and in fact, the other tomatoes on the plant are fine.
When I tried picking the branch off the plant, the larger rotten tomato smashed to the ground with a disgusting splat. This came off and upon inspection, a round little hole... Must be some kind of insect! WAH! I bet it's still eating up my tomato from the insides. I guess I'll just hope this doesn't spread. I don't have that many tomatoes!
Another issue I found was that the zucchini and squash I saw last week have shriveled up and died! The yellow squash is a total goner. This zucchini is larger but shriveled. I don't think it will ever look right. My suspicion is inadequate pollination, once again. It was a problem with the watermelons and these related cucurbitae also require large amounts of pollen to grow fruit properly.
After some googling, I have learned that these flowers can be hand-pollinated in the mornings. This yellow squash is probably a goner, as the flower is already dried up and I don't think there are any pollinators around. It's probably not too late for the little one next to it, though. Another issue could be that the plant is stressed from the heat, inadequate nutrients, or other issues and the female flowers are not opening up. I will try to get on the roof early every morning to check the status of the flowers and hand-pollinate if things look right and sexytime. Another alternative I may try later is planting lots of bee-attracting flowers (though that may not help if the bees are too lazy to visit the cucurbits and if the flowers themselves are not opening because they are stressed). I could also start a bee hive, though that seems a little scary!! I wish my neighbor had a bee hive I didn't have to take care of... =) (sorry about the blurry pic. I was standing awkwardly and couldn't see what I was shooting at.)
This blueberry plant is still making tasty berries! The only issue here is not enough berries!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Weedy July, Ground Cherries!

Life didn't used to be so busy =) Now, it's a regular thing to go a month without visiting my garden! Sad! But, thank goodness for automatic watering systems. From far away, the garden looks green and growing!
Close up, though, it's clear that a LOT of the green is grassy weeds. But, the good thing is that most other things are growing despite the weeds, including all of my berry plants! Not a single one died from the drought last time! Here, you can barely make out the basil among the tomatoes and the grass. Grass weeds are the bane of my garden's existence...
But, this tomato plant managed to grow mostly weed free. Pale tomatoes... I wonder what color they'll end up? The options are pink, red and blackish. Maybe these will be pink! They look too pale to be the red ones.
But this plant is also with pale tomatoes! 9 of them, to be exact =)
Strange things have also been growing in the garden. Apparently after a few years of runners and seeds or whatever goes on with the strawberries, they start going feral. Tiny strawberries in the middle of July! I didn't eat this one, but maybe I'll try it tomorrow.
Blueberries in July, too! I did eat this slightly damaged blueberry, the first I've ever tasted from my garden. And let me tell you, it was good...
More to come! I wonder if they are supposed to take this long to ripen.
And remember that strange volunteer I posted about last? Well, it looks like a little tomatillo plant! How odd! Still no idea where it came from. But, some of the husks fell down, meaning their fruit are ripe.
And inside, a yellow fruit! Kind of like a tomato or cherry. When I came down to google, I decided it might be a ground cherry. One has to be careful with nightshade plants as some are poisonous. I ate this one though, and it was good and I'm not dead yet. Not even vomiting.
I'll won't eat them all at once though, because I'm a little nervous...
Also growing well, my squash and zucchini! The watermelons didn't make it and their pots are full of grass weeds, but these look like they're doing fine.
My first yellow straightneck squash. I think the timing is just about perfect as the seed packets usually say 45 days.
My first zucchini ever! I hope it grows nicely =) I want some yellow and green stir fry.
Gardening is good for the soul. I didn't finish cleaning out all the weeds today. Didn't want to get too tired in the heat. I'll do the other half tomorrow and maybe figure out what to plant in the several empty buckets I have at the moment.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Little update, Tomato Attacked!

I'll start with the bad news first. It seems like every year, I lose one of the tomato plants early, or at least it gets severely damaged, and thus stunted. Also, it's always in the same pot. I'll call this the bad luck pot from now on.... This year, it seems like a hungry pigeon decided it wanted to chomp the tips of each branch off. =( This will mean even later tomatoes from this plant.
Luckily, I still have 2 healthy tomato plants. I have no clue which variety each is any more. Good job documenting, Laura...
Strange things grow in the garden when you let them. This looks like some kind of squash or nightshade plant. It already has flowers growing from the center. There is another one of these growing in another pot and I don't know where they came from. I figure I'll let them grow and see if they make any tasty fruits.
The squash seeds I planted last week have sprouted.
Watermelon seed is juuuust starting to sprout.
And, the lilies are blooming =)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Note to self: June 5 is TOO LATE for setting up the water system

I had a visitor with me today, the first time on the roof since April 24th, and because there was a witness to the devastation in the garden, I feel it would be dishonest not to blog about it, too. My laziness caused this!! A pot of very dead raspberries.
There were a lot more casualties than that and some more that are on the fence and may still pull through. But as always, there are surprising survivors. A few of those peas I planted back in April grew all by themselves and had some peas the perfect size for picking =)
One of my blueberry bushes could be a goner... One suffered some damage, but is still alive. This one is still healthy with a few berries growing, but they're not blue yet =)
More small pea plants. Maybe with water and some more time they'll grow, but I'm not sure. We'll see. I also planted some swiss chard seeds in here, which should be grown and ready to pick by the time the pea plants are definitely expired.
This pot of had some pea plants and another plant, which could be a weed or perhaps a volunteer squash plant? I'm not sure, so I left it. We'll see what it grows into.
My visitor helped me clean up the dead and get new things planted. The empty buckets near the front are planted with zucchini, yellow squash, and watermelons. I planted some yellow and hot pink swiss chard. I'll be excited to eat those =)
I snipped the lower leaves and branches from my tomato seedlings and planted them low in the buckets with some egg shells and good compost that's been collecting in a bucket on my fire escape =) All 3 seedlings look pretty happy now, even if planted late. I'm optimistic I'll have some tasty tomatoes in August. I planted some basil seeds along with the tomatoes, too.
It seems like I let my garden fall into a disastrous state every year, but it's always ok to plant more and keep going! Starting over on some things isn't the end of the world =)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Welcome Apartment Therapy Readers!!

I've followed Apartment Therapy off and on for a while now, mostly for inspiration on how to redecorate my apartment =) Imagine my shock when I found a comment from a reader who said they found this blog through Apartment Therapy! At first I thought it must be a mistake, but here I am #10 on a top #10 NY Gardening Blogs list! Admittedly, they've chided me for not posting of late... Eek! Duly noted and repentant. I'm quite proud to be the only one listed in Manhattan, though =)
I haven't been on the roof in a while, but that's the plan this weekend. I'm preparing for disaster, though, as it's been quite hot and I haven't watered at all. We'll see what survives and what doesn't! I'll leave you with an update on my tomato seedlings, though. They've been growing happily on my window sill, but desperately need to be planted out! They're already developing flower buds.
Thanks for visiting! Please do come again!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Early Surprises, New Experiments

This is going to be a little out of order, but I couldn't really contain my excitement over the surprises I found on the roof today! The late afternoon light, was also delightful for pictures =) Blueberries laden with flowers:
Window boxes abloom with ground covers I stole from my mom last year!
Despite neglect and a fence falling on them, the Loch Ness Blackberries monster on.
Strawberries already getting bigger! I can't believe they're so early!
Lettuce I never planted! This garden just doesn't let me kill it =)
Back indoors, my tomato seedlings are growing on. Imagining sun-ripened juicy goodness, now...
My experiment of splitting the herbs and growing some in pots to be transplanted to the roof appears to be a success as far as everything surviving the split. Things are looking good!
The thyme is growing in wild little bushes, a little basil seed I thought had failed decided to sprout up after all! The afternoon sun makes everything in my apartment a little golden =)
A new experiment this year is the use of rooting hormone. I've always been curious about the stuff, and never really knew what form it would take. My friend at work and I were trading plant cuttings and she mentioned having some extra, so she gave me some in a little pharmacy bottle. Now it looks like I have illicit drugs...
Anyway, I think you just dip the ends of a cutting in the stuff and plant it. Above is a sprig of oregano and below, some rosemary.
I started some snow peas the other day and these might actually be a little rotten because I left them in water too long before planting them. I brought them up on the roof and used the soil inoculant (mycorrhizal fungi for proper nitrogen fixation in the pea roots. Peas are legumes!) again. We'll see if they grow!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Finally Sowing

Leaving my plants for 3 months means relying on nature to take care of them as best she can, and when indoors, relying on family. Guess who did a better job? Before I left, my thyme and rosemary were thriving indoors and I had a bumper crop of window basil. I came home to find them all crispy. Somehow, it seems to happen every year, whether my fault or my parents'. So, Friday, I headed to Union Square Green Market and picked up some herbs from the same seller I trust every year. 3 pots for $5, but I guess earlier in the season some types sell for a premium so this thyme was 2 pots for $5. I have lemon thyme to the left and silver thyme to the right. I split a small piece off of both plants in order to keep some inside. I kept the larger portions buried in small containers to make it easier to remove them when it's warm enough to plant out on the roof.
Here from left to right, I have italian oregano, rosemary, and spearmint (3 for $5). I did the same splitting thing to the mint. The oregano and rosemary will have to be propagated by cutting later. Usually, I'm growing basil as well, but I'm all out of seeds. I tried to save seed last year, but it appears that all of those seeds are duds. Maybe indoor basil doesn't pollinate itself very well, even though it loves to send up flowers.
And, finally, I sowed my tomatoes to the left, lettuce bottom right, and spinach top right. When I'm not growing my own salads, I get 1lb containers of baby spinach from whole foods and I realized they might be perfect for starting small seedlings. They seal completely, so I can leave them on the fire escape when they sprout, without fearing that the street exhaust will get all over them, though I'll have to remember to open them every day for some air exchange. I got the container for tomatoes from a package of kiwis my family bought from Costco. Perfectly, it has 6 separate pits for the different plants and plenty of headroom for early growth. I've grown 3 varieties, Black Krim (my favorite from last time), Bloody Butcher (because again I have no Stupice seeds) and Pearly Pink (an intriguing new variety from my tomato seed archive).
When I accumulate more containers, I'll start some arugula. Normally around this time of year, I also start my sugar ann snap peas, but I'm all out of seeds and if I were to wait any longer, they'd be too late. Instead, I do have several new varieties of beets I'll grow this year. More to come on those in a future post =)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring means back to the weirdest gardening there is

Before getting to the garden part, I thought I'd share just how ODD gardening on a Manhattan rooftop can truly be. I came out of my roof hatch to find 2 full pairs of one-piece booted coveralls, covered in mud, right by the hatch. As if there is a pool of red mud somewhere nearby my building? (definitely NOT). Is there some fishing stream I just never knew about? Perhaps they came from a portal to another dimension... my roof has a wormhole!!! Or maybe New Yorkers are just plain freaky.
There isn't a ton going on in the garden, but that's to be expected. The blueberries are covered in flowers, but with my blueberry luck, I won't get a single berry. I think the problem last year was poor pollination due to inadequate pollinators in early spring.
The window boxes have really come into their own, though it's hard to tell here. But, almost every inch of soil is grown over with something I planted on purpose! There are lots of low growing, creeping ground covers that should flower throughout the spring and summer. A lot of my lavendar plants didn't make it, but the 2 that did look strong and I'll try dividing them at some point.
Next to some creeping phlox, this little low-grower will soon send little 6" stalks into the air, topped with small pink flower balls.
The branch of juniper I chopped from my mom's plant and abused heartily before planting seems to have made it. There are a bunch of brown parts, but these are definitely new buds of growth.
More to come as the season goes on. I'm already behind schedules compared to the last time I planted tomatoes! Being a lawyer makes me a lousier gardener, but I'll keep trying.