Now that the weather has dropped into the 40s, it was time for me to start covering up the plants on my fire escape garden. I started to put my plan into action last week, when I used phone books to get the containers off the metal. My next step was to set up a miniature green house for the hanging soda bottle planters. There are two things that I wanted to accomplish – keeping the soil warm and protecting the plant. I made these using materials that I had lying around or were readily available – more soda bottles, old t-shirts...

I finally found a way not only to use phone books, but to use them in your container garden. Since fall has quickly arrived, the weather’s dropped. I’ve been planning to build a hothouse, but don’t think that the weather has dropped to that point yet. As a first step to building one on my fire escape garden, I knew that I wanted to raise the containers off of the cold metal. The initial plan was to fold up cardboard boxes and place them under the containers. That plan changed when I went running the other day. As I...

I’m still figuring out what to do with my cucumber plants because the leaves are yellowing. It’s just over a month since I moved my cucumber plant across the yard. The plant was moved for a few reasons. First being that it was outgrowing the trellis that I built for it and needed more support, so I moved it close to the fence to train it up. The second being that the leaves were yellowing, which I thought was due to sun exposure. The plant is growing along the fence, still bearing fruit and blooming. That’s nice, but...

Now that I have my final fall planting done in my backyard vegetable garden, I’m starting to look back and evaluate my first season of gardening. As I look at my garden, I ask myself…why did I grow radicchio? I can’t complain about the way that it’s growing and would definitely recommend it, which is more than I can say for cauliflower. The problem is that I just haven’t used it at all. So what’s the point of growing something if I’m not going to use it. It’s not that impressive for me to...

With the fall season upon us, I can look back at my initial May planting and say that I’m most disappointed in the cauliflower plant. Of all the plants, it’s the one that has done the least. It’s pretty much done nothing. A few weeks ago, I also said that I wouldn’t recommend growing red peppers in small spaces, but was proven wrong when they started to bloom again. At least that I got some peppers out of those plants though. With the cauliflower, I’ve gotten nothing. Here’s my thoughts on what could...

Now I got my final fall planting done on my fire escape garden. I had a bunch of lettuce leftover from my fall planting in my backyard vegetable garden. Didn’t have much room for any more self watering containers, so I made more hanging planters. This time I used soda bottles, a Dr. Bronner’s gallon container and a coffee container. I have a lot more space on the fire escape than I originally thought. This is definitely good to know for next spring. It’s all part of the learning process, and I see the garden much...

After planting the kale and lettuce the other day, I still had some plants left over to get in the dirt. I built two more self-watering containers, which was enough for two of the kale plants. Still had dandelions and lettuces left and was running out of space. Since the cinder block garden was working out so well, I turned over some more cinder blocks and planted the dandelion in there. That left me with the lettuces. My grandmother had some traditional pots leftover, so I reluctantly put some of the lettuces in them (because we all...

Since I harvested all of my celery last week, I had two containers that were empty. I wound up planting kale and lettuce in those containers. Having the gardening itch and fall already upon us, I had to plant something. In the one container I had a few celery plants. Some of the roots were still in the soil. When planting the kale, I did my best to plant around the roots. The other container that had the celery had a single plant in it, but the root was pretty large. The lettuces were planted around the large root. Not sure if the roots...

There’s a lot out there on the importance of testing the pH balance of your soil in order to grow healthy vegetables. I wasn’t interested in buying some fancy pH test kit or something like that. CleanAirGardening had a post a few weeks ago titled, “Dare you taste your soil?” It was about how they used to test the pH levels of their soil back in the day – by tasting it. I took it as a personal challenge and test tasted my soil. No, I didn’t taste the soil of the cherry tomatoes that I urinated on. The...

I learned a good lesson about planting herbs together in the same container. It’s not best to do so. Similar to planting celery in the same container – nothing horrible will happen, but the herbs won’t grow as well. When I first planted them in my backyard vegetable garden in Brooklyn, the herbs were planted two to a container. It just happened to work out that my grandmother had just enough containers to accommodate that, and I didn’t want to buy any more. So they were planted based on what I thought tasted well...

Learned my first lesson about planting celery during my first harvest. It’s definitely best to plant a celery plant per container. When I first planted the celery in my backyard vegetable garden, I planted in two containers. The first container had one plant in it and the second had several. I harvested them the other day and it’s apparent that celery plants like to be on their own. The one that was solo was much thicker and deeper color. The celery that was packed in was, um, pathetic. Ok, not pathetic just inferior. You...

There’s been a lot about urine in the news lately. Juan Manuel Marquez was saying that he was drinking his own urine leading up to his fight with Floyd Mayweather. As fascinating as that story is, the story that piqued my interest even more was the one about urinating on your tomatoes and how it can help to give you fruits four times larger. I decided to give it a go and urinated on my cherry tomato plant on my fire escape garden. Don’t worry before I started, I looked and gave a yell so no one got hit with some unexpected...

A few weeks ago I said that I wouldn’t recommend growing red peppers in small spaces because they weren’t productive. I might’ve spoken too soon because they are starting to bloom again and are showing a lot of buds. I’m wondering if I should’ve harvested the others earlier, which would’ve allowed these to come through. It’s started to get cold here fast with it reaching the low 70s during the day and 50s at night. That’s making me wonder if the peppers will be able to survive in this cold...

Photos from the week: It’s been a while since I gave an overview on both of the urban gardens, so thought now was a good time. I’ll start with my backyard vegetable garden in Brooklyn. Changed the layout due to my Grandmother’s excessive sprinkler use. Harvested my first cucumbers. Got two of them. Planted some kales and more arugula. Sweet pepper plant is starting to fruit more. On my fire escape vegetable garden: The cherry tomato plant continues to grow, but still producing. Harvested about a half dozen more...

Received an email from another reader, Annie from Washington DC, that wanted to start her own urban garden. She had the space on her deck that got plenty of sun. Her concern was that it was too late in the season. She had a few questions and concerns, but just told her to stop worrying and to start growing her vegetable garden. So I challenged her to get it done. Since she’s not one to back down from a challenge, she showed me up and planted some herbs and vegetables on her deck. A few days later, I got an email from her with the...

Posted on Sep 14 2009 - 3:45am by Mike Lieberman
#7

At the advice of Trina from Silver Height Farm where I buy my plants from, she recommended the Pablo Head Lettuce. I bought a 6-cell pack and got them all in there. Each cell contained a few plants that I separated out. They were planted about 3-4 inches apart. When planting these I noticed that the soil was pretty shallow, maybe 2-3 inches at some points. This could be a reason why the onions didn’t get to be very large. At other spots the soil was about 4-6 inches. Either way, it should be good for the lettuce. I’m hoping...

Three cucumbers have started to come through on my cucumber plant, so I needed to relocate it to another part of the garden for better support. I moved it closer to the fence where I was able to train it up with some string. I was pretty happy to see the cucumbers since the leaves at the bottom have been drying out and dying. They were picked off and the cucumber trellis that I made was readjusted and tightened. After the trellis was tightened, the plant had to be propped back up on it and secured to the fence. Now I’m hoping that...

Now that I’m a bit more comfortable with this urban gardening, I’m starting to see things a bit differently. I look at things and think, “how can I use that to plant something?” In walking around my neighborhood, the East Village, I saw something that really struck my eye. It was a cinder block turned on it’s side with some plants in it. Cinder blocks wouldn’t work on my fire escape garden, but definitely would work in my backyard garden, especially since my grandmother already has cinderblocks. They...

Three months after starting my fire escape garden, I was finally able to harvest my red peppers. I harvested a grand total of two red peppers with the possibility of some more. Yes, it was rewarding and felt great to put them in my salad, but I was hoping for more. If you are gardening in a small space and looking for productivity, I wouldn’t recommend planting red peppers. I’d either experiment with something else or plant something that is productive like lettuces or greens. For those of you with more space to grow, then...

The stories about the tomato blight are all over the news, including this op-ed piece in the New York Times, “You Say Tomato, I Say Agricultural Disaster.” To my understanding it is an airborne fungus that wipes out tomato and potato crops. This year it’s affecting tomatoes hard. From what I’ve read, the way it started this is year can be traced to the big businesses such as K-Mart, Wal-Mart and Home Depot. They buy their plants from industrial farms down South, which had the outbreak. These plants were then shipped...