Let me start this post by saying that I’ll be taking off for a week and a half. Going on a camping trip to the Grand Canyon and Utah. Try not to miss me too much. Now on to the post… Last week, I harvested my lettuce for the first time and was pretty happy. This week, I might be able to substitute the word “kill” for “harvest”. I think I clipped them too close to the roots and killed them. Dead. Done. No more life. On a good note, I didn’t kill the tomato plant. It actually started to flower...

I spend a lot of time with my Grandmother. One day during the winter we got to talking and I expressed my interest in wanting to grow my own vegetables. She offered up her backyard, which was great. As much as I wanted to utilize it, it wouldn’t have been fair to her because some of the responsibility would be on her shoulders. Door to door Gram is about an hour commute from my Manhattan apartment. So making that trip 3-4 times a week would’ve been a bit much for me. She just turned 90 a few months back, but she’s still...

After not checking in for a week, I was bit nervous in checking in on my vegetable garden in Brooklyn. Luckily with the ridiculous amounts of rain that we’ve been getting, things looked good, but some of the containers showed signs of pest problems. The first problem that I noticed was on the collard greens. Some of the leaves on the left side were a bit chewed through. Most of the bigger leaves were untouched. I didn’t notice any pests on them while I was there. At this point, I’m not seeing this as a huge problem, but...

Last month, I read the book Plenty. There was a passage in it about “food traceability” and how our food travels on the average 1,500 to 2,000 miles from farm to plate. That has stuck with me, well because that number is insane. Besides the distance that it traveled, what about what else went into getting that food to me. How was it treated? Who are the people that worked to get it to me? How were they treated? Even though I didn’t start from seed, I can tell you that I got the planter from Trina at Silver Heights Farm,...

After being away for six days, I was shocked when I returned to see the growth of the lettuces in my containers. It was definitely time for my first harvest. Most of the leaves were at least 6 inches and didn’t want them to get much larger. This brings me one step closer to my goal of getting one salad. Didn’t turn this into a salad because I had already eaten dinner. Made this post abbreviated because still playing catch up from being away. I definitely wanted to get something posted though as it’s pretty damned exciting...

We’ve been through how to build a self watering container, talked about what kind of potting soil to use and how to make it. Now I am going to tell (and show) you how to water them and how to tell it’s filled: On my fire escape garden, I use a funnel and an empty juice bottle. In my Brooklyn garden, I use a hose. Fill with water (not Kool-Aid) through the pipe. Once the reservoir is filled, it will start to come out of the overflow hole that was drilled into the side. ...

Even though I’m out of town, I still wanted to post something for the day. So I decided to take some glamour photos of me and my gardens before I left. Enjoy! ...

After the poor display of the herbs on my fire escape, I was very happy when I checked in on my Brooklyn vegetable garden. Everything looked real good, well except for the cucumber plant or what was the cucumber plant. Peep these photos: I am heading out of town this afternoon and heading to Bonnaroo. I’ll be back on Monday, but I still have posts scheduled for when I am gone. ...

It’s been a rainy week here in Seattle, I mean New York, so I haven’t been paying much mind to the vegetables out on my fire escape. When I finally checked on them, I was happy to see that the lettuces, peppers and tomatoes looked pretty healthy. Then I looked above them and noticed the sad, sad sight of the herb garden I started to grow in the upside down vegetable planters. They looked the opposite of healthy – dead. Here’s what I think contributed to my massacre of the herbs: My surgeon like touch. Much like...

In a previous post, I explained the basic differences between coconut coir and peat moss based potting soils. Now I am going to show you how to make your own potting soil using a peat moss base. Here’s what you need to make your own organic potting soil: Sphagnum peat moss – holds water and air; provides little nutriton Vermiculite – provides minerals (potassium, calcium and magnesium) Garden lime – provides minerals (calcium) and balances acidity of peat moss Compost – provides the lion share of the nutrition...

This whole experience is all new to me, especially the part about actually planting. Here’s five things I learned about how to plant vegetables in a self watering container: Be gentle. Pop the vegetable out of it’s cell. Push it from the bottom and gently pull out. There are many plants in a cell. A lot of the cells contain multiple plants, so you have to thumb around the soil line to see the separation of the plants. Pry apart with thumbs. Use your thumb to gently pry them apart. You’ll wind up breaking up some of...

It’s one full week since I’ve planted my vegetable gardens on my fire escape and in Brooklyn. Here’s an update on how things are progressing. Before I do that, I wanted to let you know that I decided not to garden at my parents in Staten Island and to move those containers to Brooklyn. Logistically, it makes more sense that way. My Fire Escape Vegetable Garden The tomato plant started to bloom a bit and was picked. It was picked so that the plant can focus on growing as opposed to blooming at this point. The pepper plant...

After using all of the indoor compost to plant on my fire escape, I started a second batch. This went much smoother and I expect it to continue that way. Here are some of the lessons that I learned from my first go around: Don’t put too many greens in the compost When putting in the newspaper make sure it’s not in chunks. Separate the pieces. Don’t fill it up too much. It’ll make turning a chore With that in mind, I set up my indoor kitchen compost. Put down a layer of newspaper. Topped it with some soil. Covered...

First off, from what I can tell there is no difference between potting soil, potting mix and transplant mix. It’s all the same thing just different names. The reason that you want to use potting soil is that it allows for aeration and water to flow. If you use traditional soil in a self watering container, the roots would get too compact and not be able to grow. That’s no bueno. Of course it isn’t that simple, there are different kinds of potting soil. There is one that is peat moss based and one that is coconut coir...

After two long, but fun, days and some rain I set up my vegetable garden in my grandmother’s backyard in Brooklyn this past weekend. All said and done I planted in 16 containers and 5 herb planters. The vegetables I planted were – buttercrunch lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, crisphead lettuce, cucumbers, escarole, onions, radicchio, romaine lettuce, sorrel, stinging nettles, swiss chard, sweet red pepper and wild leaf lettuce. The herbs that were basil, chocolate mint, dill, oregano, parsley, rosemary,...

I set up my vegetable garden on my fire escape this afternoon with 3 buckets and 5 upside down herb planters. One bucket has Mottistone Crisphead lettuce, Parris Island Romaine lettuce and Anna Aasa tomato. Another has Mottistone lettuce, Parris Island Romaine lettuce and Buttercrunch. The third bucket has Jimmy Nardello’s sweet pepper and Chile Releno. The herbs that I planted were parsley, basil, sage, oregano and dill. Check this video tour of the set-up: ...

After getting the news yesterday that the vegetable gardening season already started and some plants should already be out, I need to get moving quicker. I went out to visit the ‘rents place today in Staten Island to make all of the self-watering containers at their crib. All of the materials were there, so it was just a matter of putting everything together. At their spot, I have am going to have two containers and two buckets set up. Each container took about a half hour to put together regardless of the size. There are two...

I took a trip to the Farmers Market at Union Square today to find out when it’s ok to start putting the containers out and how many plants go in each bucket. Yes, it would make sense if I had all of the containers and buckets ready, but I have just about zero complete. Still want to know how much of and what can be grown. Went straight to the Silver Heights Farm stand and spoke to Trina, who was helpful. Much to my shock she told me that it is the season for vegetable gardening. The containers should be out now because there are...

It’s been two days since I attempted to get rid of the smell of the indoor compost pile. There is no more leakage out of the bottom and the smell gone. The takeaway from this is not to take it easy on the food scraps. Now I can take that and use it when building and maintaining my home composting bins at my parents and grandmothers. They’d be less willing to deal with the smell than my roommate. ...

On Tuesday when I turned the compost all was well and there was no smell. Two days later not so much. It stank and it stank bad. The batteries on my video camera died, so there is no video, but that has nothing to do with the smell. I had a feeling that the last pile of composting greens were too much. Just got too over zealous. Instead of scrapping the bin all together, I am attempting to remedy the situation. The bin was leaking through the holes in the bottom and the smell was awful. My plan was to remove a lot of what was in the...