Pretty much everywhere here in Cali fennel is growing. It’s one of the most invasive weeds in the state. I see it growing in peoples yards, along the sidewalks on trails when hiking. I really don’t think that most people are aware of what it is and that it’s food that they can eat. It’s free food that is growing everywhere. Fennel can be used to make teas, in salads, juices… The other day when I was walking around the hood, I chopped some off a stem from a fennel plant that was growing along the sidewalk....

Now that I have three self-watering containers with vining vegetables – one tomato plant and two cucumber seeds – I need to figure out the best way to trellis them. Since my balcony garden is not huge, I need to utilize the limited space the best way that I can. What I don’t want to happen is the for the plants to grow out of control like my cherry tomatoes did on my balcony last year. I’ve been starting to look around for items that can be reused to help grow the plants upwards instead of outwards. The railing...

Posted on Jul 9 2010 - 3:45am by Mike Lieberman
#19

I’m gonna get philosophical and say that I am not a gardener. I am Mike, and I grow food. Yes, this might seem contradictory considering the site is called Urban Organic Gardener, but I have to use the term gardener because that’s what people associate with what I’m doing. There is nothing wrong with gardening, but it’s just not what I do. To me gardening is what Fern, Teresa, Jenny and Jean Ann do. I gots no beef with gardening and what they are doing. When I think of gardening, I think of pretty landscaping...

Three months after starting my balcony garden, I was able to harvest my first balcony garden salad made up of romaine lettuce and kale. This was a much different experience than when I harvested my first fire escape garden salad in NYC. Last year I was pretty overwhelmed that I was able to trace my produce from fire escape to bowl, but this year I have a different appreciation considering all the problems that I’ve had with the cabbage worms and aphids. As I was picking my lunch from the self-watering containers, I came across a...

The dill seeds were planted sometime in the beginning of June. To make sure that I continually have dill available to be I did some succession planting of more seeds. Succession planting is when you plant seeds in a way that you continually have a fresh crop available. Once one crop is harvested, there is another growing right behind it. This is great for small space gardening. I never did it on my fire escape garden, but am trying it for the first time on my balcony garden. Initially there were two rows of dill seeds planted. Now there...

Most of my planting so far have been of one single herb or veggie in a container. This time I decided to get creative with a herb container idea – I surrounded calendula with basil, cilantro, parsley, and oregano. I know that’s pretty crazy. It’s summer time, and I’m feeling frisky. Chopsticks were also reused as row markers to tell what the hell was planted where. There were four sets of calendula seeds that were planted in the center of the container. To the top of basil about five sets of basil seeds were planted....

One of the reasons that people won’t start growing their own food is that they say that it is too expensive. There are free and cheap resources out there, you just need to seek them out. Here are some ways that you can make gardening cheap, so that you can start to grow your own food. Local Department of Sanitation or Office County Extension They usually have free events or programs throughout the year where you can get free resources such as compost or mulch. This past weekend, I attended an open house held by LA’s Bureau...

I’m using the worm leachate that was produced by the Worm Factory 360 in my garden. The leachate was mixed up with 3 parts water and put into a spray bottle and the plants were sprayed down. Since my kale leaves are yellowing, aphids have infested my purple kale and cabbage worms wiped out the oak greens, I’m hoping that this will help to help both fertilize the plants and to keep the the insects away. The leachate is produced by all of the excess moisture that the worm bin has been drained out of the worm bin. This is different...

I haven’t had the best of luck on my balcony garden. The oak greens were wiped out by cabbage worms and the purple kale had an aphid infestation. Now the leaves on my kale containers are continuing to yellow. From what I’ve heard and read there a bunch of causes for the leaves of kale to yellow. It could be a lack of nitrogen, so I added coffee grinds to help with the yellow leaves. That didn’t work. I’ve also read that it could be because of poor drainage. I stopped watering them for a bit. That didn’t...

A few weeks ago the cabbage worms killed the container that had the oak greens in them. This week an aphid infestation has wiped out the container with the purple kale. The natural garden pest control worked well for a bit, but I couldn’t keep up with them. There were massive gray clumps of them on the plant each time I went out there. When I had my fire escape garden in New York City, I had no insect problems at all. In the two months that I’ve had my balcony garden, the insects have already wiped out two containers. I still...

I’m not really into gardening books because in my opinion most are boring and don’t hold my interest. This made me a bit hesitant to read Grocery Gardening by Jean Ann Van Krevelen (@JeanAnnVK) since she is a friend of mine. My beef with most gardening books is that they are usually written for people that are already into gardening and over the heads of people who are mildly interested. This book is written for someone who is curious about growing their own food or seeking out fresh locally grown sources. You aren’t...

Here’s another creative gardening idea for those of you with limited space. It’s a self-watering container made out of a 2 liter soda bottle. This self-watering container is made out of a soda bottle, an old t-shirt (or cotton string) and some newspaper. That’s it. Hard to get much cheaper than that. I had seen the idea on Instructables a while back and have been wanting to do it since. These are just another option for you to start growing your own food besides the coconut shells, hanging soda bottle planters, cinder...

It hasn’t been a great week for my balcony garden. First the oak green leaf container was infested with little black eggs that I later learned was cabbage worm crap. Now my tomato seeds that were doing so well have all died. I had each of them planted in a plastic strawberry container. Last weekend I went away from Friday to Sunday. When I left on Friday morning, the seeds were doing well. Three of the four seed starter pots were about 2-3 inches and had some leaves. Before leaving, I watered them and decided to leave them outside....

The green oak lettuce on my balcony garden has not been doing well at all. When checking out the containers the other day, I took a closer look at it and noticed little black egg looking things that were accumulated at the bottom of the leaves. I have no clue what they are, but can only describe them as caviar looking. They didn’t budge when I poked the with a stick and there were dozens of them lining the leaves around the soil line. I have no clue what they are and if they eventually grow into anything. My assumption is that these...

I knew that in coming to LA that I would be able to have the balcony garden and was hoping to expand beyond container gardening into actual soil and land. Luckily, I’ve been able to get access to a huge (at least it’s huge to me) amount of backyard space thanks to David, a friend of Anita. He has offered up his backyard in Reseda to start gardening and growing food in. David ain’t my Gram, but his backyard is definitely bigger than hers. As of right now the space is completely overridden with weeds. When I checked it...

One of the best parts about making self-watering containers for your garden is that it’s cheap. Most of the supplies needed are either already laying around the house or you can easily get in your neighborhood. The best part is that you can grow a ton of different herbs and vegetables in containers just like this. Here is a list of seeds that grow well using...

Yes it might sound obvious, but when you start your seeds make sure that you have a container to transplant them into. I didn’t and had a tray of dead seedlings. This could very well be one of the biggest gardening mistakes that I’ve made. Last week the seedlings were slanting a bit. This week they are all dead. A few of the pots were popped open and the roots appeared to be a bit compact causing their demise. The toilet paper roll seed starter pots are so shallow and don’t allow for much root expansion. There is about...

I had my first problems with garden insects a few weeks ago. I wound up wrestling cabbage worms and fighting aphids. Since then, it got me thinking…What would Mr. Miyagi do when faced with cabbage worms and aphids? It came to me. Mr. Miyagi would use natural garden pest control, so would I. I’ve been using chopsticks to pick the cabbage worms off the purple kale and toss them off of my balcony garden. The damage that’s been done is pretty serious. They’ve managed to chew up most of the leaves. The kale is looking...

The leaves around the base of my kale and lettuce plants are yellowing around the base. I’ve used coffee grinds as a fertilizer to help with this issue. I think two of the main culprits causing the yellowing leaves could be lack of drainage for the soil or nutrients. I don’t think it’s drainage because there are plenty of drainage holes drilled at the bottom of the self-watering containers. That leaves me with lack of nutrients as the reason. Coffee grinds are a simple and cheap way to provide the plant with the nutrition...

Posted on May 19 2010 - 3:41am by Mike Lieberman
#17

It’s been a little over a week since I started the experiment with planting the same set of seeds indoors and outdoors to see which would do better. There were two sets of four different kinds of seeds that were planted in toilet paper roll seed starter pots. They were leaf lettuce, basil, sunflowers and calendula. At this point, the seeds that were started indoors are performing a million times better. A million times in the sense that they’ve actually sprouted as opposed to the ones outdoors that have nothing to show. The...