When I started my balcony garden this year, I changed up how I was making the self-watering containers. Last year I used vinyl tile to separate the reservoir from the plant and soil. It worked well and served it’s purpose, but I learned my lesson when breaking them down. The containers froze up, and I had to wait three months until I was able to break them down. As I was breaking them down, I noticed that the weight of some of the soil and plants was causing the tile to break. This caused the plants to become to wet and not allow...

Two more self-watering containers were made and put out on the balcony garden. I started seeds in each of them. After some discussion about if it was better to start seeds indoors or by direct sowing, I decided it was best to start the carrot and mesclun seeds by directly planting them into the containers. When I started to plant the carrot seeds, I noticed that the package said, “Packaged for 2009.” It’s now mid 2010. I still planted the seeds and will see what happens. The mesclun seeds were dated for 2010, so I’m...

While hiking in the LA mountains this weekend with my girlfriend (roommate), I was noticing the vegetation on the side of the trails. It got me thinking about something that I read by Fern Richardson of Life On The Balcony about growing aloe indoors over the winter. She mentioned that you can cut off the “pups”, replant them and grow a whole new aloe plant. I assume that a “pup” is an aloe leaf that’s cut off from the plant. As we were hiking, I pulled the leaf off of an aloe plant to plant on my balcony garden....

Posted on Apr 30 2010 - 3:54am by Mike Lieberman
#3

I’m going to start selling organic gardening supplies through a company called OpenSky. Why would I start a gardening supply store since most of the projects that I do are DIY projects? Yes, I make my own self-watering containers, hanging planters using soda bottles and even my own compost bin. Not everyone is into making their own, and I’m cool with that. Lately people have been asking me about products and what I’d recommend. I haven’t had any recommendations because I haven’t used any products. This will...

Now that I have the balcony garden set up and am gonna be starting the vegetable seeds, I needed a new project. Since my new roommate, Anita, likes flowers, I decided to get her flowers. I bought seeds from Botanical Interests to start growing flowers instead of buying them. After reading an article in Green Lifestyle Magazine about the flower industry and how most flowers imported into the United States come to us via the exploitation of women workers, I started to see flowers in a whole new light. This was an industry that I didn’t...

The last time I checked in on the Urban Kinder-Garden, the class was watering their garden and it looked great. A few weeks ago the class harvested their first salad that they were able to enjoy. Since that time, the garden has taken a turn for the worse. Some of the plants have bolted, some have been infested by pests and some have just died. In taking a look at the garden, I think this could be due to a few different things. Firs, some of the plants seem to be infested with little white bugs that look like aphids. They are on the underside...

Now that I have my LA balcony garden started, I want to work on starting some seeds. There are about 12 packets or so that I’d like to get started of lettuces, kale, beets, carrots, tomatoes and some herbs. Since the weather is warm here in LA, I’m wondering whether it will be better to direct sow the seeds into the containers or to still start them indoors? I have accumulated toilet paper rolls, newspaper, plastic strawberry containers and some other things to use to start seeds indoors. The past few nights it’s reached...

Posted on Apr 21 2010 - 3:03am by Mike Lieberman
#22

I got my first set of planting done on my LA balcony garden. The day started with building five self-watering containers. This year I built them using two containers, instead of one container and some tiling. I planned on building six of them, but the last pairing of containers were mismatched and wouldn’t work. To start, I planted Kale, Purple Kale, Romaine Lettuce and Oak Greens. There is still plenty of space and need to pick up more containers, plants and get my seeds started as well. It’s definitely a good start of things...

Now that I’ve arrived in Los Angeles, along with my worms, I’m starting to get the hand of this worm composting thing. The Worm Factory 360 is definitely performing much better than the bins that I had built and killed all my worms with. Though in checking in on them, I’ve noticed that there are little white dots on the food scraps. There seems to be insects, but could possibly be mold as well. I tried to take a decent pic of it above and capture it on video, but they are mad small and hard to get into focus. I assume...

Posted on Apr 16 2010 - 3:49am by Mike Lieberman
#11

When I decided to move to Los Angeles, one of my concerns was figuring out the best way to ship my worms. Well, I figured it out and the worms safely made it. I had a pound of worms and filled up 4 plastic containers that were checked along with my luggage. Here’s how I packaged and shipped them: Lined the bottom of a large coffee container with shredded newspaper. Piled worms and whatever else was in the bin in the container on top of the newspaper. Added food scraps on top and covered with a sheet of moist newspaper. Put lid...

I’ve arrived safe and sound in Los Angeles. Now I have lots to do to get my balcony garden set-up. It’s a much bigger space than the fire escape garden that I had in New York. I’m working with a 13×4 space, plus some areas for possible hanging planters. Not sure if I’ll be able to use the soda bottles though. I’m going to find out where I can get 5-gallon containers so that I can make the self-watering containers. I brought all of the copper pipe for the containers with me. I’ll likely hit up the...

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...

I asked my Grandmother what her thoughts on me moving out to LA were. She is not one to hold back what’s on her mind. Before answering the question, she wanted to make sure that she was camera ready and asked if her hair was combed and looked decent. Then she chimed in with, “I don’t like to see you go, but if you think you are going to be happy there, I will be glad for that.” She then got distracted by some “shmutz” that was on the floor that had to be picked up at that exact moment. After she remembered...

I began the first part of moving the Worm Factory and the worms with me to LA when I moved them to my Grandmother’s. They will be stored there until I move out to LA. In order to make sure that the bin didn’t break open in the car ride to my Grandmother’s, the working tray cover was duct taped to bin and the bin was duct tape to the base. This is to ensure that the lid remains on keeping the worms in the tray. They’ll be stored in my Grandmother’s basement until I leave. By that time, I’ll have to figure...

I learned another lesson when making an outdoor compost bin – don’t start it in the middle of the winter. Yea that seems to be pretty obvious and common sense now, but it wasn’t two months ago when I started. Due to the freezing weather, I haven’t been able to turn the compost at all because, well, it’s been frozen. That makes it kind of hard to turn. Now that I’m moving out to LA, I’ll need to get rid of this compost. I’ll likely just dump it on the garden beds like I did the rest of the...

Now that the weather has warmed up a bit and the containers aren’t frozen, I was able to finish breaking down the self watering containers in Brooklyn. Since I’m moving out to LA, there is no need for me to put the remaining soil and plants into the outdoor compost bin. The soil was just tossed into the gardening beds that I had planned on using. My guess is that it’s likely the most healthy and nutrient dense thing that’s been put in those beds in years. My Grandmother’s gardener is supposed to be coming...

Now that I’ll be moving my garden and life out to LA, I think that I’ve gotten this worm composting thing down. It’s been almost a week since I’ve started using The Worm Factory 360 and it’s the most lively that any of my worms have been. That’s not saying much because my worms have mostly wound up dead after a few days. The fact that the worms are doing well is all peaches and cream, but I need to figure out how to get the worms out there as well. Getting the bin out there will be easy enough, but...

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...

So I’m giving the worm composting another shot after several unsuccessful attempts at it. The woman at the Lower East Side Ecology Center who sells me the worms was hesitant to sell me another pound because I’ve killed so many. I let her know about the new bin and she seemed genuinely concerned about my previous experiences. We chatted a bit more, sold me the worms and said to stop by in a few weeks and she’ll give me some more. Very nice and thoughtful of her. I got back home and set the Worm Factory up. It’s...

The fine people at Natures Footprint Inc heard about my worm killing ways and were concerned. They contacted me and thought that it could be the bin that I was using. Of course they did because they make worm bins. They offered to send me a Worm Factory 360 to try out. I willingly agreed. It arrived in the mail last week and is quite the beast. I need to read the instructions on how to use and set up. What I’m nervous about is ordering another pound of worms. The lady from the Lower East Side Ecology Center, where I buy my worms...