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!

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