Truthfully a lot of that last frost and zoning information is a bit over my head. So I had to look it up quickly. According to the book Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Containers, New York City is in Zone 7 and the last frost date is sometime in mid-April. The map and legend were hard to decipher. In the video, I erroneously say Zone 8 and mid-May. Genius idea to color code a map and put similar colors side by side. I also checked out a bunch of sites online and the only one that was somewhat coherent was the What to Plant Now...

Now that I’ve figured out a way to compost in my kitchen without worms, I’ve started to pack as many containers as I can to make compost. I found an empty container of cat litter on the sidewalk that I brought home and filled. I’ve also had my roommate keep his coffee containers and have begun to use them as well. More food scraps were added to the original container, but didn’t want it to get too heavy to shake around. This is why I started new ones. A scoop of old potting soil was added to the bottom of each...

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,...

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...