Sunday, March 27, 2011

Strawberry Tower

I've been ridiculously productive today. Aside from cleaning up a ton in my apartment, I also planted up this experimental strawberry tower. The spacing isn't really ideal, as the space around the edge of each pot might be too small... but the idea is that the strawberries will grow out of that space, sort of like a strawberry pot. Here's to hoping. I transplanted some of my existing strawberries into the top container.
In other news, I also added some arugula, spinach and lettuce seeds to the hydroponic setup. Hope they sprout and that none of the plants drown. As of today, they were still alive. Haha! Also, I think all of my seeds from the seed experiments have failed to sprout. More to get rid of, more space for new seeds? =D

Saturday, March 26, 2011

New Experiments in the Garden

Today was a busy gardening day! Or at least, labor intensive, as I lugged a large bag of mulch, some bone meal and a bundle of bamboo sticks home from Saifee Hardware on 7th street. I have a push cart I can use for these things, but I didn't expect to get such a large bag of mulch. Unfortunately, when I got to the store I found they didn't have any smaller bags, so it was time to show my commitment to this roof garden =) I'll be sore tomorrow.

Here, you can see the snow peas I planted out on Thursday morning. The seedlings I had in the start tray didn't seem to grow any in the last week, possibly because the tray was dry and I couldn't tell. I'll have to watch more closely next time. You can also see the mulch and the bamboo sticks I brought home today. On the mulch, I'm finally taking my own advice! The bamboo will provide support for the peas as they grow taller. They send out twining tendrils that search for objects to climb.
Because I'm trying to grow more large plants and permanent plants in my pots, I've felt that growing leafy greens in my 5 gallon pots isn't the best use of space/soil. I've seen people grow leafy greens successfully in hydroponic setups. Specifically, the NY Sunworks Science Barge showed me that you can grow bok choi floating on tank full of tilapia fish. So, I decided to run a hydroponics experiment on my leafy greens. Those lettuce and spinach plants from last week, plus a canary yellow swiss chard that overwintered in a pot, were all transplanted into small peat pots of perlite in this (really ghetto) hydroponics setup. I've filled this pan with a mixture of water from my aquarium and from a bucket of compost that filled with water over the winter. The green line in the upper right is an air tube connected to a small aquarium air pump in my apartment. I ran the air tube up through a sky light and onto the roof. The peat pots of perlite sit in a piece of styrofoam that floats on top of the water. Perlite is generally recommended as a good hydroponics medium because it provides good moisture retention and air flow. Here's to hoping this experiment works =)
Thursday morning, I also planted this Anne Raspberry plant, which should yield sweet yellow raspberries. It's hardy to zone 3, which is better than the other two raspberry plants I had planted, which I believe are both now dead. We'll see if the Tulameen raspberry manages to come back, but it's looking pretty dead right now.
The blue potatoes I ordered arrived last week and have been sitting on my windowsill to sprout. In case you didn't know what a potato sprout looks like, here it is. I was pleasantly surprised to find that blue potatoes have dark blue sprouts, too! Not so with the white potatoes I have sprouting in the background, which are growing a normal green.
Today, I potted up the Stupice tomatoes, as well. They were a little spindly, but I buried them "up to their necks", as more roots will grow from the stem that has been buried. This will make for a stronger plant when these are ready to go outside. =) I think they're looking lovely.
Busy spring time in this Manhattan roof garden!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Earliest seedlings ever!

I've got my earliest seedlings ever and I'm proud =) They're looking luscious and have been spending time on my fire escape under the clear plastic lid of this starter tray. Here are some snow peas, which are looking fairly happy.
Some lettuce seedlings, the most organized looking lettuce I've ever had.
And some spinach seedlings. I love how they look like rabbit ears =)
I didn't have a 100% success rate starting my seeds, maybe because the seedlings were attacked by fungus or something. These few plants may not be enough to sustain me, but they will do for now. Everybody always says you should plant in succession anyway =)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Seed Experiment Continued

Well, the last seed experiment definitely failed. After 9 days, not a single seed had sprouted and some were getting moldy. So, I call it a success! Now I can get rid of all of those packets =)
And, here is seed experiment #2, in which we have 2 types of beans that were also from those really old seed packets, but I read that beans and peas stay good for decades, so I had more hope for these. Also here are several chinese vegetable seeds collected by my family over the years, some from our own garden. So, starting from the small dark seeds at 1 o'clock:
1) supposedly Brassica Juncea (chinese mustard greens) which came in some kind of store-bought packet
2) Garden Bean (Burpee Stringless Green Pod, whatever that means)
3) some kind of seed we collected at home, larger than the mustard greens, maybe Gai Lan
4) Blue Lake white-seeded beans (pole, green snap)
5) small seeds we collected at home that look just like the Brassica Juncea, but might be Choy Sum
6) Possibly winter melon seeds that came in a small brown envelope stamped in Chinese. I'll have to check again with my mom to see what it says.

And so, the experiment continues! If some of these sprout, I might have to find a place to plant them! They're all things I would be interested in eating. =)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Seed Experiment

So, I was inspired by this NYTimes article on seeds from your kitchen, to just do an experiment on some seeds I happen to have. They're not exactly from my kitchen, but they were IN my mom's kitchen for about 15 years. All of the seeds on this plate date from 1996-1999. I wanted to see if any of them are still good, as I am pretty sure the scallion seeds from this batch that I tried to grow a couple weeks ago are no good.
From 12 o'clock, going clockwise in alphabetical order, I have Beets (Early Wonder), Cantaloupe, Carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Dipper Gourd, Easter Egg Blend Radish, Endive, Lemon Cucumber, Lettuce, Onions, Parsnips, Squash (Early Summer Crookneck), Swiss Chard, Tomatillos, Watermelon (Sugar Bowl), Zucchini.

Let's see if any of them sprout! I won't be surprised if many do not, but then I can just throw that seed packet away and stop letting it take up space =) And if some sprout, I can plant them or at least know that the seeds will work. =)