After checking in with Miss Avalos and the Urban Kinder-Garden, the kids showed me how they watered and tended to their garden. Before they watered the garden, they filled me in on what’s been going down with the garden since I last saw them. “Some of the plants died, but we got more in and they are still growing,” one student told me. That comment was followed up with, “The plants are pretty.” And, “The plants are super big.” When Miss Avalos asked her class if they thought that they are going...

It’s been just over two months since I set up the Urban Kinder-Garden with Miss Avalos’ class at Kester Ave Elementary, so I took a visit to check in. Shortly after the garden was set up, the students went on winter break. Some of the students families took the containers home to care for them. Unfortunately, there were some casualties and not all of the plants returned. Miss Avalos and the students replaced the plants with some new ones, including kale and parsley. Each week, Miss Avalos has a table assigned to taking care...

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...

I started a kitchen compost bin since I’m done with worm composting. Gabriel Withington (@IntegroDesign) gave me a great idea. He said to compost in buckets similar to the the aerobic compost bin that I built. The main difference is that there is no need to drill holes to aerate the compost. If you leave enough room, you can shake it up to aerate. If it gets too moist, drain off the liquid and use as fertilizer. Brilliant! Here’s what I put in the bin in order: Fresh compost (b) Old potting soil (b) Shredded newspaper...

Posted on Feb 8 2010 - 6:01am by Mike Lieberman
#22

I can honestly say that I am done with worm composting after killing my third set of worms. This isn’t much of a surprise since they were literally crawling out of the bin a few days back. My first set of worms I killed because they were too damp. The second batch were too dry and this batch…obviously I have no clue because I keep killing them. So I’ll leave it at three pounds of dead worms and likely start more aerobic compost bins in my kitchen. I’m sure that there are some worms somewhere thanking whoever worms...

I must be making a name in the worm community and not a good one. When I checked on my latest batch of worms some of them crawled out of the bin. The ones that escaped didn’t last long and were dead under the kitchen sink. Since I started this third bin, I moved it under the kitchen sink to protect them from the light. I also noticed that some of the worms were crawling to the top of the bin, but the lid was on. Fresh bedding was added because I didn’t want to make the same mistake as before and have too moist of a bedding. The...

Now that I’ve gotten some advice on planning for the garden beds in my Grandmother’s backyard, I made a call to obtain some horse manure. I definitely want to add things to the soil to mineralize and amend it. One reason that I want to do this is because Brooklyn soil is known for being flat out nasty and on the border of toxic. The other reason that I want to is because I’ve seen the crap that my Grandmother has put in her soil and I wouldn’t want it anywhere near my stuff. The 60+ years of what’s been put...

This spring season, I plan to use some of the garden beds in the backyard vegetable garden at my Grandmother’s. I got her approval and documented in the video below, but I’m sure that she’ll still have some complaints about it. There are four beds that measure approximately 4×2, 4×6 (which has a little bit of moss growing on it), 4×4 and 4×4. I’ve seen some of the stuff that my Grandmother has put in her soil, so I’d definitely like to mineralize and amend it. The plan that I had was to...

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? ...

Andrew Odom (@AndrewOdom) is one of my imaginary friends that I met on Twitter. He lives and gardens down south in Georgia. He built an almost recycled hoop house for his garden for under $30. I’m jealous. Since the small plastic greenhouses that I made failed, this is something that I will definitely consider for my backyard vegetable garden in Brooklyn next winter. Curious as to what went into the construction of Andrew’s and the results, I asked him a few questions that he kindly answered. Where’d you get the idea...

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...

Posted on Jan 18 2010 - 10:37am by Mike Lieberman
#18

I decided to make an undercover outdoor compost bin at my grandmother’s for my backyard vegetable garden in Brooklyn. Why is it undercover? It is because my Grandmother would flip out if she knew I was composting in her backyard? Why would she flip out? I dunno. She’s 90 and does that kind of thing. We are talking about the woman who freaked out when I brought my first harvest into her house. Making this outdoor compost bin was very similar to the aerobic compost bin in my kitchen. This bin also had no cost in putting together...

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 winter container gardening ended in December, so I started to break down the self watering containers at my Grandmother’s. Once the sun went down the cold became freezing and I had to stop. When I woke up the next morning to finish breaking down the containers, they were frozen solid. All of the soil that I had been storing in the wheelbarrow was frozen as well. Unfortunately, I can’t do much until the soil defrosts, which I don’t see happening in the next few weeks. So I’ll have to wait to break down the rest. There...

Since my backyard vegetable garden died, I needed to clean it up as the first step for getting ready for the spring season. The first step was to breakdown the self-watering containers. Here is how I did that in my Brooklyn garden: Tilted the container so that the water drained out of the drainage hole. I leaned the container up against a fence for a few minutes. Laid a sheet on the floor to capture the soil. Cut the remaining plant down at the soil line and put into the compost. Turned the container on it’s side and gently...

I’ve heard from many people that seaweed is supposed to be real good for your plants and compost. It’s said to be high in all kinds of nutrients and minerals. So I decided to head out to the beaches in Brooklyn on a fine winter day and hunt for some seaweed. No better time than the present huh? And yes Brooklyn has beaches. Before I headed to the beaches I hit up the Canarsie Pier. I hoped that I’d be able to find some that people fishing tossed away. There was none to be found though. The first beach that I went to was...

My winter container gardening has already ended on my fire escape. It’s also ended for my backyard vegetable garden in Brooklyn as well. This can be attributed to a few things. The first being my neglect. I didn’t go to my Grandmother’s for two weeks to tend to the plants. I’m sure that the snow and cold weather also contributed to the plants dying. Now that they are dead, I’ll have to look back on how the vegetable performed, what my mistakes were and how I can improve for the 2010 season. The next step...

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...