Tag Archives: garden

  • How to Grow Herbs and Veggies on your Fire Escape

    Got a green thumb, but no space to build a garden?

    If you live in an urban setting, this just might be the case. With little to no yard space to build a garden plot, you may think your dreams of growing your own fresh herbs and veggies are lost. However, you may have some unconsidered real estate perfect for a garden: your fire escape.

    How to Grow Herbs and Veggies on your Fire Escape

    You can easily grow your own vegetables and herbs on your fire escape. However, you’ll want to research the fire codes and laws in your city to make sure it’s legal to make a fire escape garden before you start. But even if your fire escape is off limits (or you don’t have a fire escape at all), these tips apply to window box gardens as well, so read on!

    Here are 6 easy steps to creating your own fire escape, container, or window box garden.

    1.  Assess your sunlight and select plants accordingly. Most veggies need at least six hours in the sun to grow well, although many herbs can make do with less. As the position of the sun changes over the summer, you may need to move some of the plants around to make sure they are catching the sun.

    2. Select your plants. Pick veggies and herbs that you actually know you’ll eat. But keep in mind that some plants, like peppers and tomatoes, start small but end up really big. If you don’t have a way to stake them up or contain them a bit, consider planting something else. Herbs are great plants for beginners, as are lettuces. You may wish to buy them already started from a nursery to increase your harvest time.  Also, it can be tempting to get a little too much stuff at the nursery where everything looks so perfect and lovely. Keep your space in mind, and know that each plant will need adequate space within a container to grow well. Over-crowded plants don’t grow as well.

    3. Get your gear. Pick a container that will drain well and be big enough for the plants you want to grow. Regular pots will work, or empty two liter bottles. I also love this idea of growing things in a repurposed shoe organizer:

     How to Grow Herbs and Veggies on your Fire Escape

    You will also want to get enough potting soil for your containers. Make sure you get potting soil, not garden soil. Potting soil is specially blended to help retain the correct amount of moisture needed for plant growth in a container. If you use garden soil in a potted plant, the soil may retain more moisture than the plant needs.  You’ll also want a trowel, a water can (though a pitcher will do), and fertilizer (organic or non-organic, according to your preference).

    4. Plant once it’s warm enough in your region. Wait until after the last frost to begin your outdoor container garden. A good source to check is the farmer’s almanac, or the local cooperative extension office. And even though we are at the beginning of the summer, it’s not too late to start planting most veggies and herbs.  In fact, some plants do well later in the summer, like kale and chard, which continue to grow even when cool weather returns.

    5. Water your plants consistently. Potted plants tend to dry out more rapidly, especially on hot fire escapes. Each day, check if your plants need to be watered by putting your finger about an inch into the soil. If it’s not damp, it’s time to water. You also don’t want to overdo it. Water until soil is damp all the way through, but not soaked.

    6. Add fertilizer every few weeks to keep your soil healthy. Watering the plants can flush most of the nutrients out of the soil, especially in small containers. Fertilizing will ensure a better crop.

    So go beautify your fire escape with some edible greens and enjoy!

    To learn more about fire escape and container gardening, check out these articles:

    Veggies on the Fire Escape: Small-Space Gardening

    Thinking Outside the Planter Box

     

    What are your tips for starting a container or fire escape garden?

    -Corinda

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysanders/how-to-grow-herbs-on-your-fire-escape

    http://www.pinterest.com/naomirachel/fire-escape-garden/

    http://www.barreaucharbonnet.com/30502/382068/design/volet-vgtal

    http://stopmakingbadchoices.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/my-nyc-fire-escape-garden/

    Posted In: Gardening, Insight, Uncategorized Tagged With: growing herbs, growing vegetables, fire escape gardening, container gardening, fire escape, gardening, garden

  • What's Bugging your Garden?

    Has something like this ever happened to you? It’s a lovely spring morning, dew on the grass, and wispy clouds scattering before the breeze. You step outside to breathe it all in, and just as you’re admiring the new little green buds on your strawberries, you see them. Bite marks on the leaves! (frightening minor chord!)

    This is the time of year I’m so happy to be outside with my hands dirty. But it’s also the time of year my deep loathing for all things creepy-crawly takes on a life of its own. (Interestingly, it’s the only time of year I’m brave or deranged enough to kill insects with my bare hands—something that would make me curl up into a ball and cry during any other season.) Yes, I’m on a rampage. And I have a good reason to be.

    Up in my little corner of the country, the garden pest du jour is this nasty piece of work: The western tent caterpillar.

     

    What's Bugging Your Garden?

    The western tent caterpillar, or Malacosoma californicum, breeds in staggering numbers, can reduce a tree to bare branches, and will insult your mother while doing it. Okay, maybe not, but they’re certainly making life miserable for gardeners this year, as you can tell from this headline from a local publication: “Growers at war with intense caterpillar infestation.”

    While I battle these loathsome larvae for territorial rights to my potato patch, other gardeners across the country are facing different foes. Aphids, slugs, locusts—they all go on our bad list when it comes time to try and coax tender little vegetables out of the ground. While your first impulse might be similar to mine—grab a garden hoe and show no mercy—as ever, our best weapon is good information.

    If you’re not sure which garden pests to anticipate this season, check out this super useful chart of Worst Garden Pests by Region, from Mother Earth News. Alternately, if you’ve found a culprit, but can’t put a name to the face, both the National Gardening Association’s Pest Control Library and the University of California’s online pest management program have lists with mug shots to help identify common pests.

    Fortunately, there are clear-headed people out there with your garden’s best interest in mind. For some great ideas on organic pest control (so, my garden hoe method doesn’t count as organic?) check out the very practical survey results in this article, “Organic Pest Control: What Works, What Doesn’t.”  Also, go back to our insight article from earlier this year, “Why Won’t My Garden Grow? 5 Mistakes You May Be Making,” to see what other factors, besides multi-legged monsters, might be keeping your garden from being its best self.

     

    I’m fairly serious about the garden hoe thing.

    What are your (better) ideas for keeping the bugs at bay this growing season?

    -Stacey

     

    Photo Courtesy of Texas A&M University

    https://insects.tamu.edu/extension/publications/epubs/e-218.cfm

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: gardening, garden

  • Reduce, Reuse, Retrash

     Reduce, Reuse, Re-trash

    Spring is here, and summer is just around the corner, which means garage sale season! Up in my neck of the woods, as soon as we get two sunny Saturdays in a row, the signs start popping up like daffodils at every intersection. And while I’m an acknowledged sucker for old suitcases and cheap art, my mission this year is to work on our outside space—specifically to gussy up the garden a bit.

    Which is why I was stoked to find this article from Mother Nature Network: “10 Beautifully Useful Things Made From ‘Useless’ Trash.” Okay, a few of them are a little mod, even for me, and the jury’s still out on that bracelet. But the old window as a cold frame is unequivocally genius, and I’m having visions of a softly lit garden party with those bottle lanterns

    The subject of the article is one Nathan Devine, an artist, designer, and dumpster diver from Australia. Devine runs a website called Retrash.com and will publish a book of the same name later this year, full of ideas for everything from bird houses to jewelry. And not only does this fire the imagination, when perusing retirees’ driveways for fabulous old junk—it makes me re-evaluate my approach to spring cleaning! I could haul that broken kids’ dresser down to the dump, or I could plant my herbs in it. Hmmm…

    Do you remember our post from last year, “Thinking Outside the (Planter) Box”? I’ll be checking there for some tips on the kinds of materials and containers that work best for growing food, before heading out on my secondhand-treasure-hunting expeditions this summer. Maybe I’ll post pictures of the good stuff I collect and re-use, and I’d definitely love to see yours!

     

    --Stacey

     

    Photo Courtesy of Mother Nature Network

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: garden tips, gardening, garden

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