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...

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...

The composting mistake that I made is pretty simple – I killed my worms. Shortly after starting my worm compost bin, I had to dry it out because it was too wet from all the coffee grinds. That didn’t work and the worms were all dead. So I properly buried their remains along with the newspaper bedding at the local community compost. That didn’t stop me from starting a new worm bin. Why would I let it? I made a mistake, learned from it and now I’m one step closer to success. I cleaned out the old bin, put a fresh...

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...

The second day of the Urban-Kinder Garden Workshop with Miss Avalos’ class was the real fun because I got to work with the kids on planting everything. No offense to the parents, I totally enjoyed my day with them making the containers too. We started the morning off by going over the vegetables that we were going to be planting and talking about the various parts of the plant. The class was most fascinated with the roots. I then showed them the worms that we were going to use for the compost bin, which got the biggest response....

For the first day of the Urban Kinder-Garden Workshop at Kester Ave Elementary School, I worked with the parents and relatives of some of the students to build the self watering containers for the garden. We also discussed the environmental impacts of gardening and building the containers. Since we’d be growing our own produce, it cuts out the travel and oil costs associated with the food. I mentioned to them that on average food travels from farm to table about 1,500 to 2,000 miles. For someone like me, who lives in New York City,...

I’m on the left coast this week conducting an Urban Kinder-Garden Workshop with Miss Avalos’ Kindergarten class at Kester Ave Elementary School in Sherman Oaks, CA. Miss Avalos is tying the garden into the curriculum for her students. Art The first part of the project was having her student paint the containers, which helps them to express themselves creatively. Science and Language Arts “One of the cool things is that it also teaches about seasons and weather,” said Miss Avalos. “We are getting everything...