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Posted on Mar 26 2010 - 5:54am by Mike Lieberman
#12

Please Note: There will be no posts over the next two weeks, so I can wrap things up here in NY and get settled in LA. I’ll be back to regular posting starting April 12, 2010. Wow, it’s hard to believe that it’s been a year (and a day) since I started writing this blog. March 25, 2009 was my first post when I decided to grow a small window garden. Here I am one year and a day later writing my last post from NYC as I head out to LA in just over a week. During this year I’ve learned a lot and have connected with...

The weather is starting to finally brighten up in NYC, enough for me to start my seeds, but I won’t be doing any fire escape gardening this year because I am moving across the country to Los Angeles. By no means does this mean that I am going to stop gardening. It just means that I won’t be gardening on a fire escape. I’ll be trading it in for a balcony. I’ve proven it possible to grow your own organic produce on a fire escape in NYC. Now I’ll show that you can do the same on a balcony in Los Angeles. Growing...

Since I’m still new to this gardening thing, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my first year. I’ve also had many successes as well, with the most memorable being my first lettuce harvest. For this post, I’d like to share the Top Five Gardening Mistakes that I’ve Made. Life ain’t perfect and neither are my gardens. I know hard to believe. I’ve made these mistakes, learned from them and have become better at gardening (and life) because of it. Putting too many food scraps in the compost bin. This...

Not sure if it’s me or the crowd that I keep, but it seems like a food revolution has started. People are starting to take food back from corporations. This is one of the reasons that I started to garden. I wanted to get back in touch with my food. I feel that America has lost its connection with food for business and corporate reasons. The fact that gardening on my fire escape allows me to harvest my meals so that I can trace my produce from fire escape to table still amazes me. There are no words that can explain the joy that...

I’m sure that most of you think that having a fire escape garden is easy. Well it aint’s. You already know that my fire escape garden is out of my roommate’s room. There is a radiator that is in front of the window that the fire escape is out of. On the radiator is a bunch of stuff that I need to take off each time I want to go out. Then I have to open the gate and the window, which doesn’t freely open. Once the window is open, I can get out onto the fire escape. Not that simple though. The radiator is mad shaky,...

When I asked for help buying vegetable seeds, I got all kinds of advice and suggestions, which are much appreciated. Spinach, chard and all sorts of greens were the most recommended. I don’t really eat that many starchy veggies like carrots and beets, so didn’t want to get those for my fire escape garden. Since I only have three containers for veggies and the hanging soda bottle planters, I really wanted to maximize the space for productivity. I decided to do all greens and lettuces in the containers and ordered some herbs...

The complaint that I often hear about my fire escape garden is that it is a fire hazard and that I’m putting lives at risk. I do respect the fact that it is a fire escape and a means for people to evacuate the building in case of an emergency. This is something that I take seriously because on January 29, 2003, my apartment burned down. This is just one reason...

One misconception about my fire escape garden is that it is outside of the window in my room. Well, it’s not. The fire escape is actually outside of my roommate’s window. So I have to go through his room to get to it. One of the windows in my room is where I initially planned to garden. I even built a window garden, but it gets absolutely no sunlight. Having the fire escape outside of his window puts me at his mercy for taking care of the garden. If he sleeps in late or goes to bed early, I can’t tend to it. I also have...

The kind people at SeedsNow.com have contacted me and offered to help me out with some seed packets to get my garden started. I’ve never started from seed before and I like experimentation (with growing vegetables that is). My plan is to continue the fire escape gardening, backyard vegetable gardening and potentially expand that to the garden beds. I’m leaning towards some of their Seed Banks.  What would you recommend me getting or would like to see me experiment with? ...

It’s time for me to troubleshoot my worm composting problems again. After starting my worm composting bin in my kitchen, they died when I made a composting mistake and drowned them out. This time I kept the bin too dry and the worms died. I brought the container into the worm lady at the Lower East Side Ecology Center in the Union Square Farmers Market. I wanted to see if the bin was the issue. She looked over the bin and said that it looked fine. Her recommendation was to fill up the bin about 3/4 of the way full with shredded...

Since my fire escape garden died after the snow storm in December, I needed to break it down. Breaking these down were definitely easier than breaking down the ones at my Grandmother’s. Yes these froze up as well, but I was able to bring them indoors to defrost for a day. Some of the dead plants that were above the soil line weren’t completely frozen. I was able to trim those off and toss into my indoor aerobic compost bin. The rest I had to wait to defrost. I put them in my room next to the heater. For those of you that have...

My fire escape container garden did not make it through the first big snowfall of the season. Once the snow cleared up a little, and I was able to check things out. The small plastic greenhouse was sunken in because of the snow. When I took the cover off, the red peppers and kales were dead. Luckily I was able to get one last harvest out of the kale a few weeks back. Unfortunately, I hesitated on the cherry tomatoes and they died. The tops of the miniature greenhouses were nearly all blown off and one of the hanging soda bottle planters...

With this being my last post of the year, I wanted to share with you my favorite moments from UrbanOrganicGardener. This might seem a bit self-serving, but when I first set out and started this project my goal was to get just one salad. It’s turned into a bit more than that. I’ve been able to get that salad (and many more), but I’ve also been able to connect personally with many of you and that’s really been the best part. So I’ll close out this year with some of my faves: Like I said my goal was to get one...

The kale has been doing well on my fire escape garden. With the weather dropping into the 20s, I decided it was time to harvest and eat it because that’s what it’s there for. In harvesting my lettuce, I learned that you should pick the outer most leaves. Otherwise the plant will bolt. Personally, I don’t want it to bolt and want it to keep producing more food for me. After I picked me some kale salad for lunch, I put the small plastic greenhouse back over it. The question that I have no is will it continue to grow in...

Here we are three months after I urinated on my tomato plants. If you recall, I did this because it’s supposed to make them grow larger. Did it work? It’s hard to say, but the plant is still fruiting and blossoming. So they didn’t necessarily grow larger, but it could’ve helped to extend their lives. Can that be attributed to my magical urine? I’m not really sure because I think that started to tinkle on them too late in the season. There are a million and five factors that effect the health of the plant like...

This is the first check in of my fire escape garden since returning from my Urban Kinder-Garden Workshop in Los Angeles. The weather has dropped into the 40s here and 30s at night, but the kale plants are thriving in this cold weather. Once I removed the small plastic greenhouse from them, they still look healthy and to be growing. The container with the red peppers in it didn’t look as well. I think it might be on it’s way out. I was able to pick one small pepper from it, but the leaves were looking all kinds of wilted. Going...

Before I left for my Urban Kinder-Garden Workshop in Los Angeles, I scrapped the small plastic greenhouses in my backyard vegetable garden. Now that I’m back, December gardening is upon us. So far the garden is holding up better than I thought it would. This proves that the self-watering containers are pretty low maintenance because I didn’t check on them in two weeks and everything didn’t die. Here’s a quick summary of how the plants are holding up. The kale plants are looking good and don’t show signs of...

There were two of the hanging soda bottle planters that I took down from my fire escape garden. The first one that I removed was because one side of the rope snapped and it was dangling by one side. So I removed it for safety reasons. I didn’t want another soda bottle falling like one did when I did my fall planting. Safety first. The other that was removed was the bottle with the basil. It was apparent weeks ago, when I realized that basil isn’t a cold weather herb, but I was holding on to the fleeting thought that it would...

I set up the small plastic greenhouses last week on my fire escape and backyard vegetable gardens. When I had set them up on my fire escape, I tied some strings up at the top to support the weight of the plastic and debris that fell on it. I didn’t do the same with the ones in the backyard. So after a few days of rain and me not being there to drain off the water, the weight of the water fell onto the plants causing them to flatten out a bit. There is no excuse for that happening except my laziness. I drained the water off the plastic,...

Is there a saying that a plant takes after it’s owner? Well if not, I think someone should start that saying because my basil plant definitely takes after me. The basil plant, much like myself, has severely wilted and not sure if it’s going to be spring back to life. I’m thinking that I should’ve put the miniature greenhouse on it sooner. I’m not totally giving up on because my pepper plants already proved me wrong when I talked smack on them. Let me focus on the positive of the basil plant – I was...