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...

I’ve decided to scrap the small plastic greenhouses in my Brooklyn backyard vegetable garden. The past two weeks I’ve had problems with support for them and realized that I should’ve built a larger greenhouse. It’s not that they don’t work because they work fine on my fire escape garden. The problem is that I get to my Grandmother’s only a few days a week, so the plastic stays on them for most of the week. This is causing a lot of condensation and affecting the plants. Some of the kales, lettuces and...

It’s been about a week since I started a worm compost bin in my kitchen. When I checked in on it, the newspaper was very damp and there weren’t many worms in sight. I dug some more and finally found some worms, but they weren’t very lively at all. Not to point fingers (but I will), my roommate threw in some coffee grinds in there without adding additional newspaper to dry it out. The result seems to be a worm bin that is too wet. It’s not leaking or runny and there is no smell though, which is a plus. All didn’t...

There were two of the hanging soda bottle planters that I took down from my fire escape garden. The first one that I removed was because one side of the rope snapped and it was dangling by one side. So I removed it for safety reasons. I didn’t want another soda bottle falling like one did when I did my fall planting. Safety first. The other that was removed was the bottle with the basil. It was apparent weeks ago, when I realized that basil isn’t a cold weather herb, but I was holding on to the fleeting thought that it would...

One of my cauliflower plants is finally starting to head. A few weeks ago, I gave my thoughts on growing cauliflower in containers. I received varied responses as to why they weren’t heading – the weather, not enough nutrients, too many plants in one container and more. Not sure what to do, I let the plants be and didn’t do much to mess with them. Sure enough a little over a month later, one of the plants is starting to head. I’m going to continue to keep the container as is. It wasn’t the first time that...

Last week, I realized that there was a support problem with the small plastic greenhouses in my backyard vegetable garden. The water was gathering in the plastic causing it to fall and crush the plants. This week the problems continue with them in Brooklyn. One of the plastic covers blew completely off and another slipped off a bit. I think there are a few things going wrong with them. The most obvious one is that the rope is loosening up during the week, which is allowing the plastic covering to come off. For the backyard vegetable garden,...

Posted on Nov 11 2009 - 5:40am by Mike Lieberman
#8

When do you plant cucumber plants? Not in July. I can tell you that much. Now that the cold weather has come around and it’s dropped into the 40s some nights, the cucumber plant is sad looking. I’m hoping that the two small pieces of fruit on it will grow some more, but I’ll have to wait and see. Next year, I’ll definitely get the cucumber planted much earlier in the season. Here’s what happened this year and why I planted it so late – I killed the first one and took too long to get the next one planted....

I finally manned up and started the worm compost bin in my kitchen. It’s filled with newspaper, red worms and my food scraps. I’m hoping that in doing this that I’ll be able to use more of my food scraps. I haven’t been able to add too many of my scraps to the aerobic compost bin that I have set up because it’s too small. My hesitation in setting up the worm bin is putting in too much food and having the stink that I did back in the spring. I plan on taking it slow at first and see how the worms handle the...

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,...

Last month, I planted kale and lettuce in the container that I harvested my celery from. At the time, I wasn’t sure if the the kale and lettuces would grow because of the celery root. Little did I realize that after being harvested, the celery would continue to grow. So now the containers have celery growing along with lettuce and kale. I don’t think it’s the optimal growing situation because I already know that celery plants like to grow in their own containers. Much like “Ebony and Ivory” they are living...

Back in August, I shared a story with you about Mariann. She lives in Arizona and was hesitant about starting her own container garden, but did it anyways. Now that she has over two months of experience and experimentation under her belt, she checked back in and shared her progress with me. Below is part of her email: “If you recall when I started I planted by seeds, early girl tomatoes, cucumber, basil and oregano. Of that 1st batch all that survived was the basil and the cucumber plant. I have harvested quite a bit of basil and...

Now that I’m over six months deep into this gardening game ‘m starting to notice a pattern in some of my plants. There is something wrong with their growth. The cauliflower has yet to head and the cucumber leaves are yellowing. Now my spinach plants are starting to show some ill effects as well. They are getting some brownish dots on their leaves. The one commonality between all of these plants is that I did not feed any of them. After I finished my initial planting with soil and compost, I never added more compost and nutrients....

Up until this point I’ve been pretty lucky with the pest problems in either of my gardens. The fire escape garden has a built in defense from pests being on the fourth floor. My backyard vegetable garden doesn’t have that luxury. Back in June there were some small signs of pest problems, but nothing horrible. The containers seemed to be a pest deterrent. I’ve since expanded to more than containers though to cinder block gardening and during my final fall planting used traditional pots. The pests seem to be much more...