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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...

The other day on my fire escape garden, I got my mini greenhouses for my hanging soda bottle planters up. Now I finally got the greenhouses built for the self watering containers as well. The total cost to build the greenhouse was $0 since I used all materials that I had lying around my apartment. I was also able to cover two of the containers with one bag. The tomato plant was left uncovered because I don’t have a bag nearly large enough to cover that beast. Of course now that they are set up, the weather during the day is starting...

Now that the weather has dropped into the 40s, it was time for me to start covering up the plants on my fire escape garden. I started to put my plan into action last week, when I used phone books to get the containers off the metal. My next step was to set up a miniature green house for the hanging soda bottle planters. There are two things that I wanted to accomplish – keeping the soil warm and protecting the plant. I made these using materials that I had lying around or were readily available – more soda bottles, old t-shirts...

I finally found a way not only to use phone books, but to use them in your container garden. Since fall has quickly arrived, the weather’s dropped. I’ve been planning to build a hothouse, but don’t think that the weather has dropped to that point yet. As a first step to building one on my fire escape garden, I knew that I wanted to raise the containers off of the cold metal. The initial plan was to fold up cardboard boxes and place them under the containers. That plan changed when I went running the other day. As I...

Now I got my final fall planting done on my fire escape garden. I had a bunch of lettuce leftover from my fall planting in my backyard vegetable garden. Didn’t have much room for any more self watering containers, so I made more hanging planters. This time I used soda bottles, a Dr. Bronner’s gallon container and a coffee container. I have a lot more space on the fire escape than I originally thought. This is definitely good to know for next spring. It’s all part of the learning process, and I see the garden much...

There’s a lot out there on the importance of testing the pH balance of your soil in order to grow healthy vegetables. I wasn’t interested in buying some fancy pH test kit or something like that. CleanAirGardening had a post a few weeks ago titled, “Dare you taste your soil?” It was about how they used to test the pH levels of their soil back in the day – by tasting it. I took it as a personal challenge and test tasted my soil. No, I didn’t taste the soil of the cherry tomatoes that I urinated on. The...

Learned my first lesson about planting celery during my first harvest. It’s definitely best to plant a celery plant per container. When I first planted the celery in my backyard vegetable garden, I planted in two containers. The first container had one plant in it and the second had several. I harvested them the other day and it’s apparent that celery plants like to be on their own. The one that was solo was much thicker and deeper color. The celery that was packed in was, um, pathetic. Ok, not pathetic just inferior. You...

There’s been a lot about urine in the news lately. Juan Manuel Marquez was saying that he was drinking his own urine leading up to his fight with Floyd Mayweather. As fascinating as that story is, the story that piqued my interest even more was the one about urinating on your tomatoes and how it can help to give you fruits four times larger. I decided to give it a go and urinated on my cherry tomato plant on my fire escape garden. Don’t worry before I started, I looked and gave a yell so no one got hit with some unexpected...

A few weeks ago I said that I wouldn’t recommend growing red peppers in small spaces because they weren’t productive. I might’ve spoken too soon because they are starting to bloom again and are showing a lot of buds. I’m wondering if I should’ve harvested the others earlier, which would’ve allowed these to come through. It’s started to get cold here fast with it reaching the low 70s during the day and 50s at night. That’s making me wonder if the peppers will be able to survive in this cold...

Photos from the week: It’s been a while since I gave an overview on both of the urban gardens, so thought now was a good time. I’ll start with my backyard vegetable garden in Brooklyn. Changed the layout due to my Grandmother’s excessive sprinkler use. Harvested my first cucumbers. Got two of them. Planted some kales and more arugula. Sweet pepper plant is starting to fruit more. On my fire escape vegetable garden: The cherry tomato plant continues to grow, but still producing. Harvested about a half dozen more...

Now that I’m a bit more comfortable with this urban gardening, I’m starting to see things a bit differently. I look at things and think, “how can I use that to plant something?” In walking around my neighborhood, the East Village, I saw something that really struck my eye. It was a cinder block turned on it’s side with some plants in it. Cinder blocks wouldn’t work on my fire escape garden, but definitely would work in my backyard garden, especially since my grandmother already has cinderblocks. They...

Three months after starting my fire escape garden, I was finally able to harvest my red peppers. I harvested a grand total of two red peppers with the possibility of some more. Yes, it was rewarding and felt great to put them in my salad, but I was hoping for more. If you are gardening in a small space and looking for productivity, I wouldn’t recommend planting red peppers. I’d either experiment with something else or plant something that is productive like lettuces or greens. For those of you with more space to grow, then...

The stories about the tomato blight are all over the news, including this op-ed piece in the New York Times, “You Say Tomato, I Say Agricultural Disaster.” To my understanding it is an airborne fungus that wipes out tomato and potato crops. This year it’s affecting tomatoes hard. From what I’ve read, the way it started this is year can be traced to the big businesses such as K-Mart, Wal-Mart and Home Depot. They buy their plants from industrial farms down South, which had the outbreak. These plants were then shipped...

I’m back “home” in Philly this week visiting friends that I haven’t seen in a while. My old roommate and I got to talking about the gardening thing. He dropped a comment saying that I should read some books on gardening and stop with all the experimentation. If I were to do that, then I’d still be reading books, get overwhelmed with unnecessary info and likely get frustrated and just give up. Which is I’m sure has happened to some of you if you’ve even gotten that far. What did people do hundreds...

When I first started to plan my fire escape garden I thought that cherry tomatoes would work perfectly. Cherry tomatoes are small, so the plant would be small as well. Now that summer weather has finally hit the NY and the plant is starting to grow, it’s gotten to be pretty tall. It’s about a half of a foot taller than me and I’m a giant. I’ve had to get creative with the way that I’ve been supporting them. I am not sure if it’s the kind that I’m growing, Anna Aasa, or it’s just the nature...

I won’t be posting this week because I’m going to be working on redoing the site to be more user friendly. I’ll resume back to regular posting next week. I know it will be rough for you during this time, not knowing how my lettuce are doing or if my cucumber plant is blooming. Just deal with it. I’ll holla atcha next week. I ...

The idea of the hanging garden planter using a soda bottle came after my unsuccessful attempts at upside down vegetable gardening. One of my readers, Craig Stanton, left a comment saying that I should put the cap back on and grow the vegetables out of the top. That seems so obvious, but I didn’t think of it at all and they’re also easy to make. These hanging garden planters are a great low cost way to start your own home vegetable garden. You can hang them in a window, on your balcony or anywhere that gets sunlight. I was...

I planted some kale and swiss chard out on my fire escape because there is no doubt that my lettuce died and weren’t growing any more. Before I planted the kale and chard, I had to prepare the soil in the self watering container first. The dead remains of the lettuce were removed and some of my indoor compost was added to the soil and mixed in. Even though I only bought one cell of each, there were many plants in the cells. There were about 3-4 plants in each. I separated them out, but still bunched them together when planting....

It’s been a bit over a week since I planted my upside down herb garden on my fire escape again. I planted them in soda bottles that were recycled into the upside down planters. The results are the same though. Death. So unless I am doing something horribly wrong, I wouldn’t recommend building and using this contraption to grow your herbs. The first time I planted them, the herbs died quickly as well. It could’ve been because the soil was too heavy or because of my not so gentle hands. So I decided it was time to give...