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...

It’s been a about a week since the last layer of food scraps were added to my < a href="/category/composting/indoor/">indoor compost bin, so I figured it was time to give it a turn. To turn it I use a broomstick to poke around and loosen everything up, then I take a small shovel to mix it. It’s been taking me about 10 minutes each time I turn it. It’s pretty full at this point. The last batch that I put on was a lot on top of what was already there, but no smell and nothing seems to be going wrong. It just takes a while...

After days of back and forth, I decided to go with copper pipe instead of the vinyl tubing in the self watering containers. Wasn’t very clear on the benefits of one over the other because read lots of pros and cons on each of them. For using copper pipe, came across a few articles that spoke about leaching into water. Came across the same articles for vinyl tubing. Since I was going with the vinyl tiles for the insert, I felt better about choosing the copper pipe. In shopping around for the pipe, the ranges varied greatly from $25...

Here’s a video tour of the layout of the planned vegetable garden in my Grandmother’s Brooklyn backyard. ...

Instead of buying one of them fancy upside hanging planters, I decided to reuse 2 liter soda bottles. Finding them was actually much easier and cleaner than expected. ...

by jamieleto After securing the garden space in Staten Island and sleeping on it the past few days, I came up with a plan to make this more affordable and environmentally friendly. I did as much research as I could into what would be the most affordable, environmentally sound and healthy way to do this project. The first thing that I looked into was which plastics are food safe and environmentally safe? The numbers on the bottom of the containers surely mean something. Sure enough they do. Then came across another site, which spoke about...

I took my first crack at making the insert for the self watering container today. The hardest part was cutting a square into circles that would fit snuggly into the bucket. Yes, I just said snuggly. Tools that I needed: Razor blade Scissor Pen Thumbtack Rope or string Something to measure water Materials: 5-gallon bucket Coin cup to use as my wicking basket 1 12″x12″ vinyl tile Drill with 1/4″ bit Steps in making the insert: Put the cup in the container and fill with water. Stop when the water reached the top of the...

So in a matter of two days I’ve greatly expanded this project from a small garden on my fire escape in Manhattan to a large garden in Brooklyn and my parents in Staten Island. That’s a lot for someone who has zero experience in this, but that’s how I do. When I get involved in something I go full steam ahead. Now that I have all of these spots, the costs drastically increased. I need to let this sink in, figure out what I am going to grow and how. Also going to take another read through the book and catalog to see...