1
Preserving Strawberries, Kale and Basil
2
Vertical Growing Green Beans
3
Sugar Snap Pea Update
4
Planting The Tomatoes
5
Meet Steve’s Plants
6
Planting Broccoli + Cauliflower And How To Build Garden Containers
7
All About the Greens
8
Cleaning Up The Strawberries
9
Northeast Gardeniere
10
Planting Green Beans
11
Weekly Garden Round Up
12
Strawberries Showing Signs of Spring
13
Spring Onion Planting
14
Sugar Snap Peas Are Planted!
15
Tomato Seed Planting
16
Start of Garden Season 2013!
17
Presprouting Peas
18
Seedlings Update – 1 Month
19
2013 Garden Has Begun!
20
Garden 2013 Planning

Preserving Strawberries, Kale and Basil

As the garden season takes off, I will be doing a series of posts on how to preserve everything you grow so you can enjoy them now and many months later.   We won’t let any of our hard work that went into planting and caring for these plants go to waste here!

I often say “I garden because I cook”.    My love for being in the kitchen goes hand in hand with getting my nails dirty pushing down seeds.    My fulltime job is being an artist with my partner Matthew, and I would say our “day job” couldn’t be farther away from gardening and cooking.   Did you ever go from shooting a pair of shoes that cost close to your monthly rent, to sprinkling manure over your soil?    But it’s amazing because away from the stressful world of advertising, fashion and due dates, there is the kitchen and garden.    These are the stress-free zones for me.  Sure, there comes stress like weather that can destroy crops, oven temperatures that can burn cookie bottoms – but those are all you, noone is judging.  It’s just you with your apron or garden raincoat on, singing along to a rap tune, cats at your feet, enjoying your time.   One hour we can be in our home, sending over files to complete a job.  But wait, the creative director didn’t like that change, so now redo those last 8 hours you spent cutting it together.  Take a deep breath.  Eat a cookie.  Then go up to the garden.  None of this stress exists there.  You can just sit in your garden, with NYC surrounding you, listen to the hum of police sirens (it turns into a hum after you’ve lived here for a while) and forget about everything else.  I love it.

Here are other reasons why I love bringing these worlds of gardening and cooking together:

-You learn where everything comes from.  Did you know Brussels Sprouts grow the way they do? I didn’t either!    By gardening you see the process from seed to harvest, it often surprises you!
-You respect everything you grow.   Those pumpkins that I grew? They came from me pollinating them for a week straight at 5:30AM in the morning.   Those tomatoes that are beautiful red and perfect?   They stayed alive because you ran out into the pouring rain to make sure their windblocker fabric was up and everything was secure.    Those sugar snap peas?  Do you know how long they take to pick? Oh my!
-You try new vegetables.   I hated lettuce before we had our garden, now I’m like a rabbit where Matthew has to shoo me away.    I never tried radishes before, now I eat them whole.  
-This results into trying new dishes in the kitchen.  Pesto? Never made before, except now I have about 10 different recipes for it with every different plant.   I scour websites and cookbooks looking for new ways to use tomatoes, broccoli, carrots.  Dinner, Lunch, Desserts – I try it all!    The most important part is starting with a base you love.  So grow what you like!  
-Preserve! Preserve! Preserve!   This is the big one for me.  There are a few weeks in July and August that I am spending many hours every single day preserving our tomatoes to last us (forever).  So you just grew those kale plants – but did you have any idea how much kale grows on a plant? Or those edamame plants that I grew last year – did I know that I would get 20 pounds of edamame, all at once?  What are you going to do?  Well you just spent so much time and energy and love on these plants to grow great vegetables so now we’re not going to let it go to waste! Oh no we aren’t!  We are going to preserve it!    Did you know I had to buy my first can of diced tomatoes earlier this month because I had enough saved from last summer’s harvest?  Do you know how awesome of a feeling that is to have fresh vegetables you grew in your freezer all winter long?  Oh it’s snowing out and 3 degrees, let me just grab a extra fresh pack of frozen green beans that I grew a few months back.  *High 5’s*

 I spend quite a bit of time preserving everything we grow, and figuring out new ways to try.  One year I went as crazy as literally not wasting any of the broccoli plants, by finding ways to use the leaves and chop up the stems.    I blanch, I freeze whole, I puree,  I turn into sauces, I chop, I husk, I dry.  I do whatever it takes to preserve everything.   This post will be dedicated to strawberries, kale and basil.    Sometimes in future posts, I will give you another idea for the same vegetable.  There are many ways to preserve each plant, so I want to share some options for whatever is best for you in your kitchen. 🙂

Strawberries
Who doesn’t love strawberries?  And is there anything better than a sweet strawberry picked right off the vine and plopped straight into your mouth?  Oh yum!  But what happens when you are are harvesting pounds of strawberries?  Or what happens when you go the grocery store and find out that they are selling pints of strawberries for 89 cents.  Buy a bunch, we can keep your strawberry love stocked up for months!

We are going to freeze strawberries.   Strawberries keep in a freezer for a long time, I’m talking  a year.  Amazing, right?

What can we do with frozen strawberries? Well I’m glad you asked.
Smoothies!  My favorite.  Throw frozen strawberries in your blender and continue as usual in creating your favorite smoothie.
-Throw them into pies.
-Strawberry jelly!
-Strawberry sauce! Blend them up and pour over ice cream, cakes and waffles.
-Strawberry butter.  Yup,  you heard me right!
-Make strawberry bread.
-Strawberry salad.

Here are your beautiful strawberries.  
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Seriously, aren’t they the most loveliest things in the world?   I hope one day I can be at least 1% cool and classy as strawberries.
Now you want to wash them, wash them real good.
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Then once they are washed, you want to hull them.  Basically you want to rip off their green tops and cores.  You can do this a variety of ways with special tools, or just a knife.  Personally I just use my finger nails to get in there.   Then lay them on a cookie sheet and let freeze.    Once they are frozen, put them into freezer bags.  
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Then when you need some strawberries, take them out of your freezer and bask in the glory of them!  Use them however you want.  I will be making myself one happy strawberry smoothie. 🙂
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Kale
Kale, the winner of everything cool in 2013. Do you hear all the buzz about kale?  What a popular guy.    It seems to be the king of greens!  One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6, 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K.  It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.  Can we say it’s healthy?  


So what to do with kale?  When you’ve eaten your share of fresh raw kale, let’s figure out ways to preserve it, so you can be eating this vegetable powerhouse for months to come!
I like to make kale cubes, which is basically kale all chopped up, frozen into cubes.  It’s all kale, nothing else added in. 

What you can do with those frozen kale cubes?
-Smoothies! Again!  Want a real pick me up?  Throw a kale cube into your next smoothie.  
-Defrost and mix into pasta.  Warm through.  
-Throw a cube or two into any soup or stew.   Just a little bit of frozen kale goes a long way in getting your vitamins in!
-Defrost and mix with meats to make delicious ravioli.
-Defrost and mix with meats to make delicious meatballs!

Kale!  You hearty animal you (not really a animal). 
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I destem it.  I do this with my hands too, I just rip it off.  Maybe I’m the animal here.  Then I rip it into pieces to fit it into my food processor.preserveIMG_2401
A few pulses later and your once entire food process cup hardly has any kale in it.  Kale likes to shrink.  preserveIMG_2403
Then spoon it out and throw in some ice cube trays.
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Fill them up to the top.    A entire bushel of kale filled up one ice cube tray, so pack it down.  Now put into the freezer.
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Once they’re frozen, poke them out with a fork.    I find it works best to let them sit on your counter for a few minutes, then poke them out.  They defrost pretty quickly for you to grab one out of the tray.  From here you can keep them in the tray and use as you want, or throw them in freezer bags.
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Because you packed them in, they stay in cube form nicely.preserveIMG_2475

 

Basil
Who else loves the smell of basil?  I love picking fresh basil and putting it in pasta, and especially on pizza! A slice of margarita pizza with basil is the key to my pizza loving heart.   But what do you do when you have pounds of basil and you can’t eat 8 pizzas a nights (don’t try this, just believe me).  You can dry it!
I love dried herbs.  Almost 80% of the time if a recipe calls for fresh herbs, I will ignore it and use dried herbs.  Why? Because I know the dried herbs are ones I grew, loved and they will taste just as good in the dish!  
What can you do with dried basil?
-Any dish call for fresh basil? You can substitute with dried basil.
-Use in any tomato pasta.
-Sprinkle over each lasagna layer.
-Sprinkle over pizza.
-Use in rices.
-Use in a varieties of stews and soups for extra seasoning.
-Use in pasta salad.
-Sprinkle on garlic bread.

So let’s pick your basil!  What you want to do is wash it, then let dry.  I do this by putting it on paper towel sheets and then help blotting excess water on top.  Let dry completely.
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Then find a space of your home that you want to smell like basil for the next few weeks.  Grab a rubber band and hang on something.  We have screws in the top of our loft that we drilled in just for drying herbs.  This is at the very front entrance of our loft, so as soon as you walk in… it’s fresh city USA.preserveIMG_2412
Then just let dry until they are completely brittle.  If the basil seems “fresh” and flexible they aren’t dry enough.  You basically want them to the point of if you touched a leaf, it would crack.  You can see in the top right of this picture I have some dried oregano ready to go.  
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Then pick the leaves off the plant (do this over a bowl, the leaves are going to fall apart beautifully).  Throw in your food processor and you’re done.  If you don’t have a food processor, just crumble with your fingers.  Now you have dried basil ready for whenever you want!preserveIMG_2467

 

Vertical Growing Green Beans

ZZZzzzZZzZzzz.. That’s how I feel right now.  We’ve been doing so much garden work that my arms are barely able to lift my tea cup up to my mouth.    My arms are itching all the way down to my fingers due to getting some sun (even after making sure to apply a high SPF specially made for us ghostly creatures).   And my mind, well my mind just wants some mashed potatoes and sleep. And ice cream.  

Last Fall during the morning before Hurricane Sandy arrived, we ran up to the roof and quickly ripped out our vertical fences (along with our beautiful Sugar Snaps that were so close to start producing peas *cry cry*).   We did it quickly.  I was crying, both scared from wind and because of having to kill my sugar snap peas.    So with the fences down, we had to re-construct them, but this year we wanted them even stronger.  Instead of just putting up poles and a fence, Matthew created a rectangular structure that supports the fence in multiple spots.  One day in and we can already tell it’s going to withstand wind gusts (we get high ones up on the roof) much better. 

Lots of friends always talk about gardening on their roof, but they aren’t sure how to grow vertically as there’s no natural fence, wall, or tree to help assist plants that want to grow high.  You need to be crafty.  You need to be extra safe, the last thing you want to think about is your structure blowing off the roof.   It’s not that expensive to get some PVC pipe and wire fencing.   

To get a idea of how tall peas and beans can grow in a garden, these fences are 10 feet high from last year where our sugar snaps grew:
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And to get a idea of how windy it can get 6 floors up, this is before Hurricane Sandy hit.

 Crazy, right?

So this year we set out to build a stronger and more secure fencing structure.

Supplies:
6 – 1″ PVC x 10ft
4 – 1″ PVC 90′ Elbows
4 – 1″ PVC Tees
PVC Glue
4 – 2.5″ x 1/4″ Bolts + Lock Nuts
16 – 4″ x 5/16″ Bolts + Lock Nuts
32 5/16″ Washers 
10′ x 4′ Roll of Chicken Wire
8″ Zip Ties

Tools:
drill
screwdriver
ratchet
hacksaw
adjustable wrench
safety glasses

So let’s first by talking about Home Depot.  How do men love that entire place so much? I love the garden section.  I love the appliance section.  I even like the hangers section.  But have you ever been dragged to the piping section? Or worse, much much worse, the screws and nails aisle.  It’s a bunch of guys with giddy stars in their eyes, skipping from screw bin to screw bin, hands full of nuts and bolts.  Matthew has to drag me kicking and screaming down those aisles, which noone seems to notice.  Sometimes I meet eyes with another female and we connect on the bond that we both are thinking of ways to escape.    I’m sure there are females who love the screws and nails aisle, but I’ve yet to meet one.

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We had to buy PVC elbows and tees.  My term for them is usually “the white things we put together”.  I’m very good with building terminology.  Matthew had to strategically put them on the ground like this to plan.  Then he told me to stay there with them while he went to another aisle.  So for the next 10 minutes I stood in front of them, anxiously, while people walked by at the poor girl who felt out of place.  I kept thinking in my head “Please noone ask me what I am guarding on the floor”.  Noone did.  Whew, close one.

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When we got home we put together PVC pipes with the elbows and tees.  These rectangular structures would be the top of the fence.  Having 4 sides will make the fences much more sturdy.

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Eventually the 10 foot tall PVC pipes will be bolted into these tees.

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There’s alot of measuring and mathematics.   Anyone else scared of math?

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And after the math, there’s alot of sawing.

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To attach the PVC pipes we use PVC glue.

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It dries very very quick.  So as soon as you swab it on, you have a few seconds to put your pieces together.

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Ok, great, both were built.  Now we have to make them 10 feet tall.

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The long 10 foot PVC pipes get bolted in.

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You have to use a ratchet for this.   Amount of times I’ve called this tool a hatchet?  Many.  Matthew loves his ratchet.  Every time he uses it he shows me how to use it, forgetting we have done this exercise multiple times.  I let him go through the procedure though, I know he gets a kick out of it.

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Ok, it’s built.  Now we have to flip it upside down.

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I held it into place while Matthew bolted it into the 4×4 wood boxes.  But first, take a picture of me because I feel so strong.

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Bolted in.  Be careful if you have plants growing around this area.

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One in place…

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Both in place.

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Now comes the fencing! To attach this you need zip ties.  Time out:  They have neon rainbow zip ties at Home Depot!  I know, how exciting.  After spending 5 hours in the nuts aisle, Matthew let me talk him into getting colorful zip ties instead of the regular white ones.  I told him I deserved it.

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This part is a 2 person job.  One person holds the wire fence and rolls it out as we go along while the other zip ties it to the PVC pipe.

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You do it in little sections, don’t be afraid to attach too many zip ties.  Get it tight and straight. 

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And you go higher and higher..

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All the way to the top.

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This is a job for people who are brave.  This is not a job for me.  I will stay on the ground and take pictures thank you very much.

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We always grow 2 rows of peas or beans so the fence goes in between them.  That way they can grow up both sides of the fence.

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Then encourage them to grow tall! Once they see the fence in front of them they will get big dreams.  Be prepared! 🙂

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Finally both fences were up.  We were exhausted.  

A few special thanks you:

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Thank you to my almonds and dried pineapple. I wouldn’t have made it through the day without you.

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Thank you to the beautiful NYC sunsets.  It’s pretty special to be putting up a bean fence, look over and see the World Trade Center as the sun goes down.

Sugar Snap Pea Update

Sugar Snap Peas – don’t you love them?  Sugar Snap peas with some noodles easily becomes a favorite lunch or dinner for us in the summer just because there’s nothing than picking your Snap Peas and minutes later crunching away.  

 In late March we planted the Sugar Snap Pea seeds – so how are they doing?  Let’s check in!

On April 22 all the Sugar Snaps rose… 
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The problem with this is that they all sprouted.  We plant multiple seeds in each hole just in case one seed doesn’t work out.  But when they all sprout, we have to kill some off.  It’s heart breaking.

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So we go one by one and pick the strongest looking one.  The weaker one gets cut.   I can never do this part. I look away and cry quietly.

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I make Matthew do this.

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And when we have all the Sugar Snap Peas that would have grown big and strong, I bury them. But not before saying a few sad words. And crying more.  I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER.

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By doing this, we assure that the 2 pea plants won’t fight for root space choking themselves out.  Now there is just one per hole, to grow big and strong in their own space.

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Then we put up wire fencing and sticks for the Sugar Snap Peas to grow up.  We do this early because they will begin growing quickly and need something to latch on to.

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We also like to throw some other greens like spinach (pictured middle) and lettuce (pictured center left) in the box.  

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We also will put wind blocker fabric up to  make sure the plants won’t blow over  as they are still in the small stages.

3 weeks later  to the day – May 13!

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Holy Moly! I will give a few minutes to scroll up and compare these 2 pictures.  What a difference 3 weeks makes.

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Their tendrils have latched on and climbed up the fence rather quickly.

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Isn’t it amazing how they climb? We help them out some in the beginning by wrapping them around slightly, but once they found their way they just do it.  

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And they just  keep climbing, hooking, climbing, hooking, twirling, climbing, hooking.  In some order like that.

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Even if they see a piece of rope they will grab on.  They are wild like that.

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As they start to get taller we help support them by wrapping little pieces of Velcro around them.  We tend to to do this with any vertical plant in the garden.  It helps incredibly with wind gusts.

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It’s pretty magical to watch the Sugar Snaps grow.  They are one of my favorites in the garden.  Just don’t tell the green beans, there will be a battle.

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Want another crazy comparison? Go up and look at the spinach previously, now look at it. I know!

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Do the same for the lettuce.  I know!

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So now the Sugar Snaps continue their journey into new great heights.  They will grow further up the trellis where eventually I will have to stand on a crate to reach them.  The next Sugar Snap update hopefully will be full of harvest.. stay tuned!

 

Planting The Tomatoes

About a week and a half ago we transplanted our tomato seedlings to their summertime home, the roof.  Tomatoes for us are the keepers of the garden.  If it’s a good tomato season, then it’s a good garden season.  If there’s tomato issues, then we get sad and cry every single day.    The last few years we’ve had incredible success with the tomatoes, where there is a few weeks in July/August where we are throwing 5-10 pounds of tomatoes in a bowl every single day.  Last year it got so hectic I would sit on the floor, surrounded by my 100 tomatoes just staring at them in panic (and in awe).  With that many tomatoes, I took some time every single day to freeze sauces, diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes and tomato juice.  I would boil, deseed, simmer and bag.  I am proud to say that from the months of July – April we didn’t buy one container of spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, cans of diced or stewed tomatoes.   We just recently finished our last bag of frozen tomato sauce out of the freezer and it was a bit sad (although endearing to see my freezer bottom again).  

With the transplanting of the tomatoes to their containers, the tomatoes truly mark garden season for us.  These guys will hopefully be around until the beginning of Fall, where I will (hopefully) continue to pick them off the vine and throw them straight into my mouth.

Let’s plant some tomatoes!

Here’s how the calendar works with our tomatoes.
March 14tomato seeds are planted inside.  Then they live under a fluorescent bulb setup until they are strong enough to go outside and the weather permits their arrival.
April 19 – the tomatoes are enormous inside.  They are so big they are growing into the light as we can’t make our loft ceiling any taller for them.  It’s been a little too risky to move them directly outside due to the weather temperature changing so sporadically so they are moving under the greenhouse instead…outside but inside.  
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Their roots are expanding every single day.
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I walk by them every single day, touch them and then enjoy the fresh tomato smell that all tomato growers love.
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April 19 – They move into their temporary home, under the greenhouse, where they enjoy steamy days.  Tomatoes love their heat…
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Just wanted to note that after taking this picture, I slid on some dirt, fell on the ground, bruising my hip and right leg, while risking my health to save the life of our camera.  “Don’t look at me, I’m so embarrassed” I whispered to Matthew as he rushed to my side.  Then I cried.  “Dont look at me” I mumbled .   

April 25 – THE DAY IS HERE.
Can I get a drum roll?

(Thank you).
THE TOMATOES WILL MOVE INTO THEIR CONTAINERS.

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Open up the green house, pull the tomatoes out! Say goodbye to living with the cauliflower and broccoli!

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As you can see by their size and roots, they need a larger space asap! They need room to grow, to stretch out their legs and arms and cute little noses.

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Get ready little tomatoes.

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We prepared the containers a few days before.  We make them the exact same way as the broccoli and cauliflower containers.

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By the way, this is a good time to note our A-clamp collection.  This is less than a quarter of them.  How do we get sponsored by A-clamps?

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Get ready.

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We rearrange all the tomatoes, putting all varieties together in separate bins.

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Hello beautiful(s).

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Then one by one we cut holes in the plastic and put the tomatoes in their container.  We plant the tomatoes DEEP.  About half of their stem is already under potting mix in this picture.  This will root them good.

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We do this to every single one.  Hello Hybrid Salsa tomatoes.

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Hello Aroma tomatoes.  How are these different than Roma tomatoes? Well they have a “A” in front of their name, that’s really all I have so far.

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Then there’s two of  my favorites (they’re all my favorite), cherry tomatoes.

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And the big beefs!

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During this time we plant the green peppers too.  They live well with their tomato friends.

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I say it all the time, I know, but green peppers are stress free.  We’ve never had any problem with them.  They just grow big and strong with some water and hugs.

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Then we give every single plant their own cage immediately.  Tomatoes tend to grow pretty quickly and with the wind on the roof, extra support is always helpful. 

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All caged up.

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All tomatoes got their cage? Yup!

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Would you believe we have to put 2 cages on top of each other by the end of the season because they grow that tall?  We start with one then mid season attach another on top. (I squint constantly on the roof,  having blue eyes is rough).  

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To give you a idea, see those super tall green guys in the back with the cages sticking out of?  Yeah that’s our monster tomato plants last year.  They grow big.  

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And the last step… the tomatoes are planted, they have their cages, but they need a little more protection.  The roof gets super windy, I can’t stress how windy it can get (even when there’s not hurricanes named Sandy knocking us down) so we help the tomatoes stay upright and protected  by wrapping the entire tomato structure with wind blocker fabric.  This is also called row cover fabric.  We buy it in a big bolt and it lasts a long time. 

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Then  you hold one side while the other person wraps it around.  This is a 2 person job, especially if it’s windy!  

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Then it gets clamped and it stays up.  We will keep this up on windy days, and bring it down on non windy days.  The fabric is light weight so it doesn’t restrict sunlight too much.

May 6 – The tomatoes have transitioned quite nicely to their new home.  The first few days are always hard as you see them slightly struggle to get used to the direct sun all day long and the wind.
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But then  you see the new green growth on every single plant and take a sigh of relief.  The tomatoes have moved in and made themselves at home. Grow strong little guys! (Soon to be Mr. Big Guys!)

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Looking good peppers!

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This post brought to you by a girl who has to stick her head between fabric to take pictures of her beloved tomatoes and peppers.

Are you growing tomatoes this year?  Did you already plant them? What kind are you growing?

Meet Steve’s Plants

Peeking is a ongoing series where I peek into other’s gardens and snoop around.   If you’re in the NYC area and have a garden you’d like to share, please email me.  I’d love to see what you are doing and share your garden story!   For more peeking posts click here

Have you ever been to Ohio?  Have you ever met anyone from Ohio?  If you have then you can probably agree that Ohio is home to some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  I know I might be persuaded as my other half and his family is from Ohio and they are some of my favorite people in the world, but let’s look outside of that.  The amount of times I have said “I’ve never met anyone mean from Ohio!” is high.  I say it at least once a month.  I know, there are probably people from Ohio that aren’t that nice but I haven’t met them!   From the grocery employees in the Sparkle grocery store that I was amazed by their ringing out cheerfulness, to every single person who holds the door for me, to the woman who wrote “his and hers” on our Subway sandwich wrappers, to every single Ohio transplant I’ve met in NYC (there’s alot) – I love you all.  You are all the bee’s knees.  

So what does this have to do with the title of this post? Well nothing, except that my friend Steve is from Ohio and I thought this would be a perfect place to dedicate my love to “The Buckeye” state.

I met Steve from Matthew, they have that Ohio brotherhood thing going on.  I quickly found out by word of mouth and seeing pictures online of his large (and growing) collection of plants.  Knowing that I would fall in love with his plants and want to share them with everyone, I innocently invited myself over in a series of emails I sent to him.  Steve kindly (of course) obliged and let me take some pictures and talk to him about his plants.  

One of Steve’s earliest memories of plants starts in Ohio with a strawberry plant at his family’s house.   From there  he moved to Chicago where the collection truly started, a few at first and eventually growing into handfuls of planted pots that now reside in his Brooklyn apartment that lines all free window space.  Sadly none of his plants have human like names (I volunteered a few but Steve seemed disinterested in this idea), but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love them.  When he showed me around the plants introducing me to them, you could tell how excited he was to talk about them and share their stories of where they came from, how some plants have been split into multiple generations, and up keep.  He told me a story of how he left on vacation once with post-it notes on every single plant that had directions for his roommates to water his plants.  When he came back, everything was fine, except one plant that he left with no post-it note.  Noone seemed to notice how it eventually became brown, begging for water and eventually toppling over.  His heart was broken.  But because he has so much love for his plants, he nursed it back to health and even though it’s not growing vertically straight anymore, it’s healthy and green.  

 So let’s meet Steve’s plants.  At the end I included a little questionnaire that I asked him to fill out and pick his favorites.

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When you walk in you are greeted with so many pots of green.  Steve says his favorite plant is the Jade plant in the middle on the black table, which has since been separated into multiple Jade plants throughout his apartment. 

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There is one rack that houses about 20 individual plants.

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A star of this rack is this plant that hangs over the edge with its beautiful “hair”.  

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This is a beautiful hen and chicks plant.  The “hen” is the main plant, and the “chicks” are the offspring.

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Who doesn’t need a refreshing spritz of water?

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This here is the Jade plant that I discussed up above that Steve has nursed back to health.  Doesn’t it look great?

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These are cuttings of his Moses-in-the-Cradle plant that are rooting.  They will be planted into their own pot very soon.

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Steve has a big pot of overflowing basil that any kitchen cook would be uber jealous of.  I smelled this plant about 8 times in my visit.

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This is a baby spider plant that he’s transplanting soon.

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This purple heart plant has a funny story.  Steve was visiting New Orleans where he came across many of these growing throughout the city but didn’t have the heart to sneak one from someone’s garden so instead he found this one growing near a stop sign, where he pulled it out and the took it back with him to New York.  From New Orleans to Brooklyn…

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Now let’s go look at the plants on the other side of the apartment.  Of course there are some plants seated midway as well when you walk through the space.

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The other side of the apartment gets slight dimmer light but is great for these big plants here.

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This is his Dieffenbachia plant, also known as “dumb cane”.  These are great plants to have if you don’t have alot of sunlight as they do well in shade.    I named him “Big Guy”.  Kids and pets should be kept away from this guy though as it is toxic if ingested.  

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This is a Golden Pothos plant that has heart shaped leaves.  These plants can reach up to 7 feet which you can see in this picture it is pretty close to.   Bonus: Golden Pothos is a powerful plant that can improve indoor air quality.

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Don’t give up the plants either! I also love the little ornaments decorated in between the plants such as the set of trains on this mantle or the Model T (under the Ohio flag a few pictures up) – all made by his grandfather!

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This is another Jade plant that came from the original one in the first picture (his favorite plant).  I love seeing generations – great grandpa, grandpa, papa, son, baby, baby baby.. that’s what I would name them.  

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Thanks Steve for taking the time to let me meet your plants and share them with everyone who appreciates brightening your home with green.  It was truly a joyous afternoon to learn all about them.  

 And as a bonus,  I was left in the kitchen alone so I snapped these too:

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This wooden duck that his grandpa made holds a recipe to a broccoli and cheddar dish that  I bet is delicious.

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 Thanks again Steve! Hope you all his enjoyed meeting his plants!

Planting Broccoli + Cauliflower And How To Build Garden Containers

I’m not one to pick favorites in the garden but I will say my heart skips a bit faster when I see a full head of broccoli growing.  Last year we had pretty great success with our broccoli with sizes that I couldn’t even dream of, so this year I’m hoping for the same.  I know, I’m putting pressure on the broccoli, but I’m very supportive too so it works out. 

Last year we had many heads of broccoli, much of when I froze to use in recipes all summer long.   There was a week straight where we were cutting off multiple big heads of broccoli every single day.
Harvested the first broccoli of the year, biggest broccoli we've ever grown! Yay!!
Broccoli – last year.

Cauliflower though, that’s another story.  We’ve never had great success with cauliflower.  In the first few years we grew cauliflower about the size of half dollars.  Then last year, we were growing decent size ones (although still on the smaller size) and both Hurricane Sandy and then a aphid apocalypse hit – both not being kind to the cauliflower.  So this year, if I can be ever so bold I’m hoping for not only big broccoli again, but I’m hoping for some big cauliflower heads too! I’d love to snack on them,  steam them, eat them raw, melt cheese on top, hug them and whisper sweet nothings.  Please cauliflower, please!
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Cauliflower – last year.

So a few weeks ago, on April 6 we transplanted the broccoli and cauliflower seedlings to the roof where they have been living under a green house since.  Doing the containers for these plants really feels like the start of the gardening season because it really is about the garden basics of building the containers, turning soil, planting.  Once the containers are built then they are recycled throughout the rest of the year with other plants depending on the season.  It’s a process that leaves us a bit tired and needing a nap afterwards, but we cant nap because we’re too excited.  

 The rest of this post is very picture heavy with how we prepare the containers, and some progress shots up to yesterday!

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The plants don’t get transplanted until the greenhouse is built as they will live under this for a few weeks.  It’s been up and down in the weather here with some nights going below freezing, so it’s very important they have a warm home.   In early March we endured the chilly weather and put the green house up and replaced the plastic.  

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Then all the containers get removed from under the tarps where they sat all winter.  In the last few years we have collected many containers!  Hint: If you’re in a city, look for them outside on the curb on trash nights, it can save you lots of money!  Just make sure they aren’t cracked.

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Get your muscles ready because this is the hard part.  All the containers need to be emptied so you can flip the potting mix, give it nutrients and set up the pipes.  All of our containers are sub-irrigated so they get watered through a feed tube which them waters the plants from the bottom.  We use 2 types of pipes depending on what we have available, they both work equally well.  In the box above we use corrugated piping.

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Or you can use PVC piping cut up.  Just make sure you always leave a hole for the watering feed tube.

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When starting the containers, add a little bit of potting mix at the bottom and add water.  Pat this soil down so it becomes firm with the piping.  This is starting the wicking process which will continue to water your plants throughout the season.

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Keeping add potting mix to all the containers.  Reminder, if you are using containers, use potting mix!  Potting mix is officially one of my best friends.

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Add Perlite to all your containers and mix it around with the potting mix.  Perlite allows drainage and access for the water to move around in.  

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Keeping doing this until all your boxes are filled.

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Then give them all one last sprinkle of water on top.  You want that potting mix wet (not soaked though).

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Now you want to give your containers some food for those vegetables to eat later on.  We like this plant food, it’s worked well for us.

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Just dig into the edges of the box with your gloved hand, sprinkle plant food and then cover it up.  Your plants will love you for this!

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Now it’s plastic time.  What? Ok, so you built these amazing containers! But you want to keep the moisture IN the containers.  And let me tell you if you are growing on a roof and it’s getting beamed by the sun, you are going to need all the moisture you can get because everything will dry out very quickly.  So we cover every single container up with plastic.  

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Rip a hole in the plastic for the feed tube, then tape the plastic on.   Make sure you use tape that can endure all weather conditions.

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Do this for all the containers.  If you have 2 people, that’s best case scenario as one person can hold the plastic while the other one tapes it.  At least once Matthew accidentally tapes my hand to a container.  

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One more thing before you add your plants – first water your containers.  You want to drill a hole into every single box – this hole should reside at the top of the inside of the pipes.  When the containers are watered, these pipes will fill up with water to the top, touch your soil and continue the wicking process.When water comes out, the plant has enough water.  This way you always know the plant isn’t under or over watered. Now fill up every single box until water comes out of the water drainage hole.  

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 This box was watered, it’s coming out, so it has enough water.  Note: Move shoe out of the way so foot does not get soaked – ooops.

Now finally – we can transplant the broccoli and cauliflower!

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These are the broccoli and cauliflower seedlings.  The seeds were planted January 12 and this picture was taken April 6 so they were growing inside for almost 3 months.  There are 24 plants in all – 12 broccoli, 12 cauliflower.

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Can we talk about how big their roots became in those 3 months?

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Each container gets 4 plants so we evenly distribute the broccoli to all grow together and the cauliflower to grow together.

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6 containers x 4 plants = 24 in all.

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I’m always in awe of the beauty of the seedlings.

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I love them so much.

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Then one by one, we make holes in the plastic and the seedling gets transplanted inside.  Pat it down, make it a nice home in that potting mix.

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I gave this one a nice little pat and told it that I loved it very  much.

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Every single one was planted.  But it was still March so they needed protection.  The greenhouse goes on…

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Tip:  It gets cold at night so if you fill up old bottles with water – the water heats up the in the green house, causing the temperature to rise in the greenhouse.  If you ever open your greenhouse during the afternoon and feel one of these bottles you’ll be surprised by how warm it is.  

And then you cover them up, tuck them in and wish them well.  Now the exciting part that causes me high anxiety.. the waiting!
But what I love even more, tracking their progress!

A few days later we see they have transitioned nicely to their new containers.
These were taken April 8 – 2 days after transplanting.
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Then a week after transplanting on April 13, we are noticing them grow in size..
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Then it really starts to get wild/exciting/makes me want to dance. 
This was taken yesterday – April 22, 16 days after transplanting.
~SWOOOOOOOONS~
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Check out that growth! I love you guys.  Every single one of you 24 beautiful plants.  You make my day!

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I love you beautiful.

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I love every single one of you!

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Keep growing big and strong.  You make one girl very happy. 

 

 

All About the Greens

There’s been some progress in the garden this week with some of our favorite greens.   There’s broccoli (my loves), cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, lettuce, onions, spinach and sugar snap peas.  That’s alot of great green!  So here’s a quick  update on some of the plants…

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One of the spinach plants needed to be transplanted as it was growing too big inside.  So we took it out to plant it in the sugar snap pea box…

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You dig a little hole..

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Shake it out of it’s container it grew in, then put it on the hole you dug.  Then pat it down.

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Now it’s all planted!

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A few days later and it’s transitioned quite nicely.  Eventually there will be 2 more spinach plants that will join this guy.

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Right now though the spinach is surrounded by sugar snap peas.  They all place nice together though.

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Speaking of the sugar snap peas.  This was them just a week ago, slowly coming up here or there..

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And this is them now.. every single one came up.  We will have to weed them out later this week.

Some other before/afters:

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This is the Brussels Sprouts last week.

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This is them now!

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This is the kale last week..

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This is the kale now!

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This was the lettuce last week..

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This is the lettuce now!

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So as you can see, more green is showing up! Check out those onions in the middle, we spotted some mini bulbs growing under the soil today!

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We also got the older Rhododendron plant a little brother… 

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This one is white and pink in color, I spotted some pink already trying to peek out today.  I love Rhododendrons, I want a entire section in the garden full of them.

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So now we just wait and continue to give all the plants sunny Spring days… (hi helicopter)

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And water to keep them growing!

I love watching the progress of all our plants, it’s really special to see them so small in this stage and then compare them in a month. I can’t wait!

Cleaning Up The Strawberries

A few days ago it was 70 degrees so I made my way up to the roof with my phone full of music, a banana, a water bottle and a goal to clean up the strawberries.  A banana was eaten, water was drank, I danced to music (sorry to all spectators) and the strawberries were cleaned up.  

Strawberries tend to get in the Spring spirit rather quickly.  In the winter time their leaves turn brown and crisp and they stay like this for the first few weeks of Spring.  You start to worry about them.  It happens every year.  Then suddenly you spot a few green leaves.  Thea a few days later, some more.  A week later, each bucket has green shining from it.   A few days more and you let out a sigh of relief, they are ok.  The strawberries are tough guys, they can take care of themselves for the most part.  They just like to arrive to the party fashionably late, all dressed in beautiful red (Game of Thrones fans, I just thought of Melisandre while writing that, I pictured the strawberries in red flowing robes).  

To get a idea of how quickly they change..

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This was taken April 8.
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And this one April 13.
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And this one April  17.

So as you can see there was alot of new green, but there was also old brown leaves.  And green/brown is too camouflage for the strawberries so I needed to give them a makeover.

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These were my beauty tools.

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You need to be careful when cutting the old brown leaves and stems as sometimes there is a fresh new stem in there sometimes hiding.  If I cut any green, I would have cried. I thought about it about 24 times while I was cutting.

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Look at how pretty that first bucket looks!  Looking good strawberries.  Now a bunch more buckets to go..

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These buckets here were full of lots of new green growth so I had to be extra careful and not cut as much off. 

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A crate became full of winter leaves…

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All to make way for spring beauty!

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Looking good strawberries!

Finally, after I had to stretch my  back multiple times and thought I might need a back brace, the strawberries were done and all cleaned up.
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Now we just wait for the first signs of strawberry flowers… and then the excitement really begins! 

 

Northeast Gardeniere

Last year I begun collaborating with Home Depot and Miracle Gro to be their Northeast Gardeniere.  The Gardenieres are described on their website as “A group of hand-picked green thumbs led by gardening master, William Moss. They’re passionate, real-life gardening personalities with real-world experience when it comes to growing anything, most anywhere.”  A film crew came out to visit our roof and we made some fun videos that hopefully gave helpful tips on how urban gardening can be easy (and cheap!).   This year I will be working with them again and in the next few weeks we’ll be filming more videos both on the roof, as well as I will be visiting some other locations to help share the garden vegetable love.

Here are the videos we filmed.  You can also see me on the Home Depot website here.   It’s a dream to be on the Home Depot website as the store is like my 2nd home, and conveniently only 2 blocks away!  

Some people have mentioned that they have seen me on Hulu and on TV in Gardeniere commercials.  I’m sorry for interrupting your show, think of it as a great time to grab a snack together!  Also sorry for some (many) of my cheesy moments, it’s just how I am

Happy Gardening!

Here are some behind the scenes pictures from the filming:

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Here’s some of the crew on the roof.  Our vegetables behaved their very best that day.   It does look like it’s going to pour though..

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The strawberries were a little shy, but eventually they loved the spotlight.  

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I work bright green socks..

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So they could match my bright green broccoli and kale.

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I believe Matthew took this picture, he snuck up to the other roof.

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I can’t wait to show you some more videos as the season continues.
Is there anything you think I should film – tips, how-tos? Let me know in the comments please.

 

Planting Green Beans

This year we are flipping our boxes around a little bit.  In the past we have grown 2 boxes of sugar snap peas and 1 box of some type of variety of pole bean, but this year we are growing 2 boxes of pole green beans and 1 box of sugar snap peas which will grow up the trellis.  Did that confuse you?  

So with the sugar snap peas all planted (and all have sprouted!) we moved on to planting the green beans.  We’ve had pretty good success with pole beans as we support them with built in box trelis or wire fencing.   I know some of you probably grow bush beans but we’ve always found that pole beans grow better for us. 

This year we are trying 2 types of green beans:
Kentucky Wonder (description found online: Kentucky Wonder is a wonderful heirloom variety with good old-fashioned taste. Pioneers depended on the harvest from this 6-8 foot tall variety, and generations of children have snapped the flat, straight, 6-8 inch long, silvery green pods. Many remember Grandma serving the freshly steamed tender pods, so full of that rich beany flavor.)
Blue Lake (description found online: This vigorous 7 foot tall variety made Oregon’s Willamette Valley famous in the 60s and 70s for canning beans. The smooth, 6-7 inch, dark green pods have a canning jar straight, round shape. Harvested at their peak, you’ll find them tender, meaty, and full of hearty, fresh bean flavor.)

We get very excited for bean and pea season here.  Afternoon summer lunches are filled with fresh beans and a little pasta.  For dinner they get eaten fresh, stir fries, casseroles.  And snacks – green beans with a little sea salt on – does it get any better?

 So let’s plant some green beans..

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The box above and below are the boxes we are planting the green beans in.  They are 4×4 wood boxes.

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We dug out trenches near where the beans will grow because we wanted to give the soil a energy boost!

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Worm castings – mmmm! Your soil will love you if you can give it some of this!

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Then we just fill in each trench with the castings.

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And the other trench.

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Then we cover the castings up, pat it all down.  Good now your soil is feeling revitalized!

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Poke holes in the ground where you’re going to plant your beans.  We do 2 rows of 7 holes – which means every box will have 14 green bean plants.  

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A fence will eventually go up between the row of plants for them to climb up.  We won’t put the fence in until all the plants have risen to the surface so we can see them.

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These are the 2 types we’re trying.  I got them at the Home Depot.  The variety of pole beans isn’t as wide as bush beans.  I wish we could have found some wax pole beans – maybe in the Fall I will special order them.

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Kentucky Wonder beans are brown.

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We always plant 2 to be safe.

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Here’s the Blue Lake beans.  They’re nice white in color.

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Again, 2 per hole.  Usually they both come up, and then we have to pick favorites and yank one out. I usually cry. 

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This year we used this pea booster on the sugar snaps so we’re doing it again on the beans.

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You sprinkle a little bit in each hole..

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Enough is sprinkled so you cover up the beans.

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Then you’re going to cover up the  beans, and pat down the soil.  Pat  it down so they’re all tucked in.

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Then comes your plants favorite drink – water.  Get them nice and wet.  

Now we wait…

Are you growing any beans this year?  

Weekly Garden Round Up

This week it ranged in the 40’s and 50’s, and next week it’s set to have multiple days in the 70’s.  I guess Spring is officially saying hello to us as it’s been acting like a tease.  Last year at this time we already had some hot days where we could plant in shorts, but so far this year I haven’t had a day in the garden yet where I haven’t complained about being cold.

Many of the plants are on their own in the garden and don’t need much help in the early stages.  They’re in green houses, doing what I imagine (and hope) is having lazy days and throwing dance parties at night.  I still have hope one night I will catch the broccoli under the green house lit up with some strobes, hearing some music while the cauliflower yells to “turn it up”.  I have a garden imagination.

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This is said green house where parties could happen at night.  Right now is that awkward period of watching the seedlings grow, wondering when you should move on with the next plants, but mostly just idling walking around the garden hoping that something sprouts.

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Which is what happened when we checked out the sugar snap peas yesterday.  Every single day for the past week we have raced across the roof to see who can spot the first pea.  Usually it’s noone and we leave the roof disappointed, but yesterday – there were cheers!   The first (and a few others who did not get this photo op) have emerged from the soil.  I checked again today and not many more have appeared, so hoping by the week’s end we’ll have a full house in the sugar snap pea box.

Inside the loft we have been helping the tomato seedlings grow strong.  I have to say the seedlings are looking the best they ever have this year.  Every single seed came up and they’re growing at a pace where the tomato leaves are tangled up in the base of  the cage of the growing light.  A few days ago we had to pick favorites and weed them out.  We always grow 2 seeds per cell incase one doesn’t grow but this year every single one grew.

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This is the part that I can’t do and make Matthew. I feel like I’m picking a favorite child.   You go through the plants and find which one looks most healthy, and cut the other one.  This way the tomato plant now has the entire cell to grow and isn’t sharing space.  They can let their roots spread out now, get a little more comfortable.

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What you’re left with is a little sad bouquet of tomatoes that hoped to grow strong, but weren’t chosen.  I can’t make this sound happier, I’m sorry, it hurts me.

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Here’s the 10 tomato plants that have made it.  Congratulations!

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We are growing 2 beef tomato plants, 2 cherry tomato plants and 6 plants of roma varieties.

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We also have a lonely spinach plant which will eventually be transplanted to the roof.  I planted another seed to give it a soul mate.

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The ones in the back are green pepper plants.  We usually grow 2 of them and I swear (I say it every year) green pepper plants are the least hassle plants.  You just grow them and leave them be.  They are magical.  Up front we have some basil which will be transplanted to grow downstairs in our hydroponic system.

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This year we are growing our herbs downstairs.  I meant to take a picture of Cilantro, Oregano and Basil but I got a little Oregano crazy I guess.  We decided to plant it in the loft instead of the garden as it’s easier access to pick herbs for dinner that way, plus I love the way it grows in our Window system.  I’ll be sure to make a post on that later on…

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So now the tomatoes will continue to grow downstairs for a few more weeks until they move to the roof.  We’ll just keep giving them water and I will sing them to sleep every night.

Hope your preparations for your garden are going well.
Treat those tomatoes nice.  They deserve it.

 

Strawberries Showing Signs of Spring

Although some people cover their strawberries up in the winter, we don’t.  We don’t feel like it affects the berries either way so we just let them be their natural selves and collect the snow on top of them.
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Here’s all the strawberry buckets now with their crisp leaves.  Each bucket has 3-4 strawberry plants, aged from 1 year to 3 years.  There’s about 40 strawberry plants here total.
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We started to see signs of green spring in the younger plants…
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And then finally some green in the older plants this past week.
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Hopefully I will have some plump berries in my hands in a few months.  They truly are the sweetest strawberries I have tasted!
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If are you thinking about growing strawberries, I would definitely recommend trying the bucket method.  We’ve had great results.  I talk more about growing strawberries in this video (starts around 0:35).

Spring Onion Planting

Today we did alot of work in the garden which I will break up into separate posts.  This one will be dedicated to the enemy I love, onions.  What does this mean? I don’t eat onions – I cry if they are in my food. I am that person who takes very long in line because I request everything be made without onions, and if they ignore my request, then I will send it back.  I will pick the onions out of salsa even if it means it will take 20 minutes and everyone will be done eating already.  I don’t like the smell of onions, I pout and moan when I have to make something with onions for Matthew.  But with that said, I am the garden mother of these onions so I cherish and worship them.  No, I won’t eat them, but I want them to grow big and strong.    Even though it’s the one thing in the garden that I will not eat, somehow I am always stuck sorting and planting them every year.  Matthew calls me the “onion whisperer” because he says I am good at the meticulous job of picking all the onion seedlings apart.  Man, I hate that job.  It’s the worst.  And let me tell you something, even if they are onion babies right now, they smell of onions.  I totally overreact too. I will sit on the ground with those onion seedlings, crying, pretending I can’t breathe, holding my nose (which really makes it worse because I have onions on my fingers). It’s tough work, but it’s all for the love of one of my children, the onions.
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First, let’s look at the box where all the new onions will be planted in.  These onions off to the left have been there for a few months over winter, and they look like they are bouncing back so we are going to leave them and see.
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Speaking of onions that made it over winter – will you check out this box of onions that are looking amazing? Matthew had fears they wouldn’t survive, but I told him to keep some hope in these onions, and look at them! Look at them!
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No bulbs were spotted (yet) but they are looking strong.  They’re all about 1 foot high.  When they get bulbs I am going to do the happy onion dance.  They deserve it.
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Back to the onions we planted today.  Here are all our onion seedlings.  Each little soil cup has a bunch of onion seedlings in it – anywhere from 5 to 8.
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Then comes the fun (not fun at all) part of sorting these onion seedlings out, one at a time.  While holding each one delicately you try to untangle all the roots.
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This take some time, but I have worked out a system of shaking them so they come loose pretty quickly.  Onion whisperer I am.
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The seedlings already have pretty intense roots going on.  Each seedling grew into a big onion last year and produced a bulb larger than a baseball.  Matthew said they were delicious. We are hoping for similar results this year!
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So now they’re all planted. There’s 38 onions here, not counting the ones in another box.  We’ll check back on them in a few months…

Sugar Snap Peas Are Planted!

The sugar snap peas are this years first plants to be covered up by soil in the garden.  Yesterday, while shivering in the cold sunlight, we took our pre-sprouted peas and planted them.  It is still cold out, so even though growth might be slow in the beginning for them to emerge, hopefully we will see them big and strong soon.
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This year we are changing things up and are growing them not up the fence, but instead around our gazebo like trellis.
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Here are the peas that we pre-sprouted.
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Nature, isn’t it amazing?  If you haven’t tried presprouting, give it a shot.
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Holes are made with our fingers, then peas are inserted in.
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This year we are trying this pea booster – hopefully it works well.
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So that gets sprinkled in each hole…
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Then we do a little song and dance involving lots of cheering and the words “love” and “grow big” before covering them up with soil.
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Then we get some water that was collected from the rain.. Can I tell you how freezing I am in this picture? My hands felt as red as the water container.
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Then each pea spot gets watered.

Now we wait… hope to see you soon sugar snap peas!

Tomato Seed Planting

Last year we planted the tomatoes and green peppers seeds on March 1.  This year we planted them March 14 (yesterday).  Time is running by quickly here at the moment, and thankfully we realized this 2 weeks late and not 1 month, 2 weeks late.  So yesterday we got out the supplies and planted our tomatoes for the year.  You know the usual characters:
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There’s the roma, sweet aroma, beef, cherry tomatoes.  Then there’s the green bell peppers.
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See the container to the left? ?That’s Burpee’s eco friendly self watering cell seed starting system.  It’s magical. We thought it might have been a gimmick when we bought the bigger cell version for our other seedlings, but those seedlings in it have grown so much bigger than the other seeds not in a self watering system. If you can find this, get it.  It’s great.
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Beautiful soil, get your hands dirty.  I love the feeling.
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I know I say it ALL the time, but these 2 little sees will turn into full blown tomato plants. It amazes me every single time.
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We also are getting the sugar snap peas ready by presprouting them inside.  This always works better for us than planting them directly in the soil as we are never quite sure if they all are growing to sprout or not, and if they don’t you are left with a few that need to be replanted.  With presprouting, you are guaranteed to know they all will grow into plants.   I did a post on presprouting sugar snap peas if you want to read it.
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I would like to give a shot out to my gardening helper, Xanadu Pluto, who climbed into the seed starter box…
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But realized she couldn’t fit all the way and just stayed like this. No shame.  <3

Start of Garden Season 2013!

Today felt like the official start of the garden season.  It was 50 degrees out, we were shoveling soil, taking care of seedlings, building boxes.  I was complaining that my  back hurt.  It’s just like old times, meaning every single year we’ve had our rooftop garden.   Our main goal today was to get the greenhouses rebuilt and if time permitted build a new box to replace one that was falling apart. Not only did we get all that done, but we were able to remove the soil from all the boxes to turn it over and feed it compost.  Woo!  I won’t be able to move tomorrow.
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It was sunny and nice out today.  Since there is so  much empty space on our roof we are able to have lots of room to build.
Garden 2013: commence greenhouse rebuild
First up was the long greenhouse that had some holes in the plastic, so the plastic was ripped off.
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And then replaced.
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Woo! I’m excited too. Greenhouse is built.  The broccoli and cauliflower will probably hang out in here soon enough.
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Then it was the smaller greenhouse.  In this picture it’s off to the left and it was destroyed by the wind.  It had a few holes in it, then suddenly the wind just ripped it apart.
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So we covered that up with some new plastic..
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Then it was all set to protect when the seedlings go under it…
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Speaking of seedlings.  Say hello to them! I will do another post focused on them. :D)
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Then it was time to replace this box.  This has been with us since the beginning of the garden and it’s seen it’s last days.
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So I hulked up and shoveled all the soil out of this box.  My heavens, there is alot of soil in one box!
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Box is now all empty.. time to take it apart.
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Before we put the new box down we built we put sponges down.  This will protect the roof so the wood won’t lay on it.
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New box all filled back up now! High 5. I’m exhausted.
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Then we had to empty every single box to turn over the soil.  This is such hard work.  I almost took a nap.
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This is Mr. Pumpkin who has been with us since October.  He’s finally saying goodbye and needs to be released back into the soil.  We will miss you Pumpkin man who has brought me so much joy every single day seeing him in the kitchen
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So I did the sad honors of cutting him open so we could compost him.
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Isn’t the inside of a pumpkin amazing?
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While Matthew was smashing the pumpkin up I pretended to be the pumpkin and said things in my pumpkin voice such as “Oh don’t hurt me”, “OOO that feels good”, “hehehe that tickles”.  I amuse myself.
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I saved some pumpkins from him.  I will try to grow these.  I like keeping it in the family if possible.
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Then we brought over the compost that has been working it’s magic all winter.
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Oh delicious compost soil that the garden loves.  This will cause big strong plants!
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We worked hard this afternoon.  So hard that by 5PM I already had my Fuel Points goal!
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Excited for the new year of growing..  Happy gardening!

Presprouting Peas

Presprouting is great to do for peas.  By doing this you’re promised that your seeds won’t rot before they sprout under the soil (due to cold temperatures).  It also guarantees that you won’t be wasting your time planting some seeds that might not even sprout at all causing you to wait and fall back in the garden season schedule.

Directions:
Take your pea seeds and dip them in some water to get them wet.
Then take a paper towel and wet it.  Put your peas in the middle of the paper towel and wrap up, like a envelope.
Put in a plastic bag with the top corner vented a little bit.
Leave sit for a few days, soon enough they will sprout. 🙂

Here they are dry:
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In the moist paper towel all wrapped up:
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Sealed up for a few days:
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When you take them out, magic!
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They sprouted!

Then plant them as you regularly would.

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Seedlings Update – 1 Month

So it has been a full month since many of the Spring seeds were planted.  How are they doing? Well I’m glad you asked.  I have been waiting to do a post on this.  I have been very anxious.  I would like to post every time they grow a centimeter but I know that probably isn’t very exciting to you.  So I wanted a whole month.  I really keep things riveting here!   Here they are today…!
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But let’s go on a journey.. back to January 2013 to watch the progress… On January 15, the first one decided to pop up and greet us: WP_20130115_009
Then on January 16, more of it’s friends came out to play..
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On January 24, we had alot of growth action that already happened in the 12 days since they were planted:
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Then on January 28, the onions decided to start growing quick.
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Check out this amazing guy, isn’t he beautiful? It’s New Zealand spinach.
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Then on February 6, we had to pick favorites.  This is always so hard.  I don’t do it, I make Matthew while I sob loudly on the floor yelling “IT ISNT FAIR”. WP_20130206_051
Check out the broccoli roots! They are already growing out of their cups…
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And this is yesterday.  Hey  spinach and kale – how are you guys doing? Kale, man I’m excited to see you!
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Onions, I won’t eat you, but I’m very happy to see you looking so well.
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Everyone this is cauliflower.  Cauliflower this is everyone.  Say hello!
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Broccoli – you beautiful people.
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So everything came up….. so now we just keep watering and giving hugs.
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This was taken a few minutes ago.  I almost fell off a chair, but I’m ok. The onions and cauliflower are so big they are in the light.  Good luck guys.  Also note the fan to the right that we put up in mid January.  This keeps it windy so they aren’t shocked when they hit the roof.  It also makes them very strong as they are growing wind muscles (my term, not technical).
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How’s your seedlings?

2013 Garden Has Begun!

The subject is very exciting – the 2013 garden has begun! Seeds have been planted for broccoli, cauliflower, onions, kale, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, brussels sprouts tonight.
Broccoli – 8 plants, hopefully as lovely as last year,  stay away aphids.
Cauliflower – 8 plants (2 different kinds – hybrid, giant of naples), hopefully as delicious as last year, stay away aphids.
Onions – hopefully as lovely as last year, this was matthews pride and joy last year.
Kale – hopefully will be monsters like last year, stay away white flies.
Spinach – i lied in this post, we are growing it again this year.  we have 2 different kinds – hybrid, new zealand.
Cabbage – never grew, please be successful so I can make halupkies.
Lettuce – never grew from seed, please be successful.
Brussels sprouts – never grew, please be successful because I  love you so much
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So there it is – what the Spring garden looks like so far.  Sugar snap peas and carrots will be planted directly into the soil on the roof sometime in late February, early March.  Whew!  Lots of greens, very excited.
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I know I say it every year but it always amazes me that this little seed can turn into this big guy. Man, nature is amazing, I can’t even understand how it does what it does.  Thank you life. Thank you world.  Thank you to the plant gods that I love dearly and sing and dance to in the garden circling our plants, showering them with love and hopeful dreams of becoming big and strong.  I respect you nature.  You are A+ in my book. I give you so little and you give me so much.  Please love me back.
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This is seedling box 1 of 2.  There’s alot of things going on.  I graphed everything out and wrote everything down but somehow a cabbage will get mixed up in the lettuce section and cause me anxiety for a week.  It always happens. I swear they come to life at night and move around.
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Shout out to the best helpers in the world too, Brother Bear and Xanadu Pluto.  Xanadu just wanted a pencil I was writing with while Brother wanted every single seed packet.  We could not find the cauliflower seed pack anywhere, turns out Brother Bear laid on it and it was completely hidden under his belly.  He was also very fascinated with the Brussels sprouts.  What a guy.
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This year we also got a new grow light system going on.   This used to be the old set up.  It was one small 24×12 shelf with 3 6500 CFL bulbs.
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This is the new system.  It’s a 48×12 shelf with 4 4ft 6500 fluorescent bulbs.   We looked at premade kits on all the garden websites but they are so overpriced.  $200 for 2 bulbs and a light fixture? You out of your mind. So we went to Home Depot and bought our own supplies.  This setup cost about $70.  *High Five*

Have you started anything with your Spring Garden yet?  While at Home Depot we were overly excited to see they have a full selection of seeds, trays and supplies all ready to go.  Last year I don’t think they got their seeds until March.  I hope I had something to do with it as I constantly went there every single day pleading for potting mix. The garden section manager eventually just gave me his business card so I could call him for updates.  I felt both cool and pathetic.
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Happy garden planning!

Garden 2013 Planning

You know why I love having a garden? Because it’s January, feels like 22 degrees out and I can look in my freezer, grab some frozen soy beans I preserved a few months ago and have fresh edamame in a few minutes. It feels like summer now! Minus the 3 pairs of socks I have on and that I’m sitting in front of a heater.
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In just a few weeks the 2013 garden will be started.  We will start plotting the outline, and then seeds will be started inside.  This year we’re going to move some of the boxes around, try a few new vegetables, not grow some and continue to glare at the person who constantly shuts off our hose in the laundry room.

Here is a table on what we’re hoping to grow this year..
Yes Will Grow: The usuals, vegetables we have grown before.
New First Time: New vegetables we want to try growing.
No Won’t Grow: Grew them, but decided not to this year.

YES Will Grow NEW First Time NO Won’t Grow
Broccoli Brussels Sprouts Red Beans
Cauliflower Lettuce Spinach (maybe)
Onions Pickling Cucumbers Potatoes (maybe)
Kale Flowers
Sugar Snap Peas
Carrots
Tomatoes
Green Peppers
Corn
Green Beans
Pumpkins
Watermelon
Soy Beans
Strawberries

The yes column is pretty self explanatory.    These are the usual cast of characters and have grown successfully on the roof.
New this year we’d like to try Brussels Sprouts, lettuce and pickling cucumbers from seed.  Last year we had lettuce but it wasn’t from seed.  Also, we had success last year with regular cucumbers but I want pickling cukes so we will try Kirby cucumbers. I’m obsessed with Brussels Sprouts so that is understandable.
There are a few plants that we have grown but most likely won’t grow this year.  The red beans grew amazing and looked like tentacles, but we would rather green beans.  The spinach was successful as well but besides cupcakes we really don’t eat it.  Lastly, our luck with potatoes has been good and bad.  Some years they grow great, some years the heat kills them.  For the amount of soil they need, and how cheap they are to actually buy in the store (compared to the price of seed potatoes) it might be most economical to just not grow them this year (even though this breaks my heart).  Also this year I really don’t want to grow flowers unless they’re Rhododendrons or varieties like this.  Growing flowers just doesn’t excite me as much as growing a pumpkin.

What’s your garden look like for 2013?

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