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...

After you are done with your coconut, hollow it out out and use it to plant vegetables with shallow roots in them such as lettuces and other greens. Much like the toilet paper roll seed starter pots, these are the great price of free. What you’ll need to get your coconut shell container made: Coconut shell Potting mix Seeds Spray bottle filled with water Drill with 1/4″ bit How to make a coconut shell container: Drill 2-3holes in the bottom of the shell. Drill from the inside of the shell. Fill up with potting mix. ...

I was tending to the balcony garden, taking care of the self-watering containers and spraying down the seeds when I noticed a big bit hole taken out of a romaine lettuce leaf. When I took a closer look at the leaves, I saw a little green critter on the back of a leaf. Pretty sure it was a cabbage worm that was going to town and munching on my stuff. It took a few attempts to get him (of course it’s a him, right?) off of the plant. A knife was used to get him off the leaf and he fell into the container. I was having a bit of trouble...

Now that I have some seeds directly sown and another seed experiment going on, I am trying to figure out which tomato seeds to start for my balcony garden. I have 7 packets that I received for free from WinterSown.org. You just need to fill out the form, send them a SASE and they’ll send you free seeds. Nice. I learned on my fire escape that just because they are cherry tomatoes doesn’t mean it’s going to be a small plant. I don’t want to have a tomato tree on the balcony, but would like to grow some tomatoes. A...

Posted on May 10 2010 - 3:32am by Mike Lieberman
#9

Last week I direct sowed carrots and mesclun lettuce into containers on my balcony garden. I’m not seeing anything coming up on them yet. This week, I’m experimenting with starting seeds indoors and outdoors to see which light works better. I don’t have any self-watering containers to direct sow into, but I have seeds. So why not get some started? For this test, I’m starting a leaf lettuce blend, basil and also some of the flower seeds that I’m going to grow – sunflower and calendula. I made seed starter...

When I started my balcony garden this year, I changed up how I was making the self-watering containers. Last year I used vinyl tile to separate the reservoir from the plant and soil. It worked well and served it’s purpose, but I learned my lesson when breaking them down. The containers froze up, and I had to wait three months until I was able to break them down. As I was breaking them down, I noticed that the weight of some of the soil and plants was causing the tile to break. This caused the plants to become to wet and not allow...

Two more self-watering containers were made and put out on the balcony garden. I started seeds in each of them. After some discussion about if it was better to start seeds indoors or by direct sowing, I decided it was best to start the carrot and mesclun seeds by directly planting them into the containers. When I started to plant the carrot seeds, I noticed that the package said, “Packaged for 2009.” It’s now mid 2010. I still planted the seeds and will see what happens. The mesclun seeds were dated for 2010, so I’m...

While hiking in the LA mountains this weekend with my girlfriend (roommate), I was noticing the vegetation on the side of the trails. It got me thinking about something that I read by Fern Richardson of Life On The Balcony about growing aloe indoors over the winter. She mentioned that you can cut off the “pups”, replant them and grow a whole new aloe plant. I assume that a “pup” is an aloe leaf that’s cut off from the plant. As we were hiking, I pulled the leaf off of an aloe plant to plant on my balcony garden....

Posted on Apr 30 2010 - 3:54am by Mike Lieberman
#3

I’m going to start selling organic gardening supplies through a company called OpenSky. Why would I start a gardening supply store since most of the projects that I do are DIY projects? Yes, I make my own self-watering containers, hanging planters using soda bottles and even my own compost bin. Not everyone is into making their own, and I’m cool with...

Now that I have the balcony garden set up and am gonna be starting the vegetable seeds, I needed a new project. Since my new roommate, Anita, likes flowers, I decided to get her flowers. I bought seeds from Botanical Interests to start growing flowers instead of buying them. After reading an article in Green Lifestyle Magazine about the flower industry and how most flowers imported into the United States come to us via the exploitation of women workers, I started to see flowers in a whole new light. This was an industry that I didn’t...

The last time I checked in on the Urban Kinder-Garden, the class was watering their garden and it looked great. A few weeks ago the class harvested their first salad that they were able to enjoy. Since that time, the garden has taken a turn for the worse. Some of the plants have bolted, some have been infested by pests and some have just died. In taking a look at the garden, I think this could be due to a few different things. Firs, some of the plants seem to be infested with little white bugs that look like aphids. They are on the underside...

Now that I have my LA balcony garden started, I want to work on starting some seeds. There are about 12 packets or so that I’d like to get started of lettuces, kale, beets, carrots, tomatoes and some herbs. Since the weather is warm here in LA, I’m wondering whether it will be better to direct sow the seeds into the containers or to still start them indoors? I have accumulated toilet paper rolls, newspaper, plastic strawberry containers and some other things to use to start seeds indoors. The past few nights it’s reached...

Posted on Apr 21 2010 - 3:03am by Mike Lieberman
#22

I got my first set of planting done on my LA balcony garden. The day started with building five self-watering containers. This year I built them using two containers, instead of one container and some tiling. I planned on building six of them, but the last pairing of containers were mismatched and wouldn’t work. To start, I planted Kale, Purple Kale, Romaine Lettuce and Oak Greens. There is still plenty of space and need to pick up more containers, plants and get my seeds started as well. It’s definitely a good start of things...

Now that I’ve arrived in Los Angeles, along with my worms, I’m starting to get the hand of this worm composting thing. The Worm Factory 360 is definitely performing much better than the bins that I had built and killed all my worms with. Though in checking in on them, I’ve noticed that there are little white dots on the food scraps. There seems to be insects, but could possibly be mold as well. I tried to take a decent pic of it above and capture it on video, but they are mad small and hard to get into focus. I assume...