Nearly all of my urban gardens have self-watering containers in them. They work great on a balcony, fire escape or any other space that doesn’t have soil. If you’re still trying to figure out what you can grow in small/medium sized container, check out this site for a list of plants and seeds that grow well in containers. Self-watering containers are...

I am going away on vacation and this will be my last post until August 30, 2010. Please do your best to get by without me. I have been thinking about changing the focus of this blog to include more about the importance of growing your own food. For the past year plus this blog has been about growing your own food and how to do so, which it still will include. I want to write and discuss more about the importance of growing our own food, what’s involved in it, the growing, harvesting, sharing, preparing and still focus on the how...

One of the questions that people frequently ask me is revolved around the health concerns of growing in the plastic containers. Is it safe to grow in plastic containers? Is it leaching harmful toxins into the soil, water, plants and eventually my body. I honestly have no clue, nor do I claim to. I think there is a valid concern in those beliefs and generally avoid...

Now that I’ve remembered to amend the soil in my container garden, I’m going to be running a side-by-side test of soil amendments. Here is the test that I’m going to run. I have two cucumber containers on my balcony garden. In one of them, I have amended the soil with straight compost. The other container I have watered with the cow manure tea that I brewed up. The plant that I used the cow manure tea already started out slightly smaller than the other, but I want to test and see if the manure tea help to promote better...

I am making cow manure tea to use as a soil amendment in my container garden. I’m brewing cow manure tea from Authentic Haven Brand. The brewing process will take 1-3 days to complete. You’ll need the following: One five-gallon container filled with water Bag of cow manure tea bag Towel or cloth to keep the bugs out You just need to drop the tea bag into the bucket of water and let it steep for 1-3 days until it looks golden brown. Put a cloth over the top of it if you are keeping it outside to keep the bugs out. For...

One of the mistakes that I made last year was not feeding my plants and amending the soil in my container garden. When you first plant the potting soil that you use should likely have all the compost, nutrients and minerals for the plant to initially survive, but over time the plant will use these up and they will deplete. If you were growing in the ground, the soil would likely take care of itself with the worms and everything that’s going on underground. I was a having a discussion with someone the other day about this and it...

Thanks to everyone who submitted a comment to enter for a chance to win 6 packets of seeds courtesy of Botanical Interests. There were 61 comments submitted. To select the winner, I used Random.org to randomly select a number between 1-61. The number generated was 21. Counting from the top the 21st comment was from….Snow. Not sure if it’s the 90s white reggae artist from Toronto because if it is that would be awesome. The comment that Snow left was , “I love my urban veggie and herb container garden! I encourage everyone...

When you started to plant your mesclun seeds, you likely just threw some seeds in your container and watered them to see what would grow. I know that’s what I did. Now that they’ve started to grow, you’ll need to thin out your mesclun plants to allow the strongest ones to survive and produce more. Yes, the container might look pretty with the purples and greens, but this is about growing food, not about looking pretty. All you’ll need is a pair of scissors (or your bare hands). Go through the container and pick...

In order to keep your tomato plant thriving and producing more food, you’ll need to train it upwards in addition to removing the suckers. The purpose of training your tomato plant is to keep the plant from getting to heavy and falling over. As it begins to blossom and fruit, it will start to slouch. To keep it from doing so, you’ll need to train it upwards. In a small space there are a few ways that you can do this. Regardless of which way you choose, you’ll just need some rope/string and some scissors. On my balcony...

Once your tomato plant starts to grow, you will want to prune it to remove the suckers. They will start to grow regardless of how you take care of your plant. You might notice them as your plant is growing, but think nothing of them. Suckers won’t harm your tomato plant, but will prevent it from producing more fruit. A sucker is off-shoot growth that grows where the stem and a branch of the tomato plant meet. It doesn’t serve much of a purpose. If you pick them off it will help encourage more growth because the plant can...

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...