I harvested my first batch of ‘Purple Plum’ radishes this evening from the rooftop garden. I’m growing them in an old wine crate alongside greens.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember exactly what I planted since I wrote on the tags with non-permanant ink and it washed off after the first rain (I have several different lettuce and greens seed packets so it’s not easy to identify). However, I can say for certain that the radishes (back row) are ‘Purple Plum’, the front row is orach (not yet germinated), and there are ‘Rouge d’ Hiver’, and ‘Oakleaf’ lettuce seedlings in there.
Two sets of lettuce seeds sown at the same time; the first grown under a plastic take-out container “cloche”, the second grown without.
Here it is with the cloche on.
Guest post by Amy Urquhart
“Invasive” does, in fact mean, well, “invasive”. I’m always curious when I buy a new plant labelled as invasive, just how invasive can it be, really? That one little starter plant can’t really get to be that big in one season, can it?
Besides the usual mints, balms and the like, I give you the official 2006 list:
Plants In My Garden That Have Proved Just How Invasive They Can Be
Catnip - this is literally a shrub now, after starting it from seed just last spring. It has made many little catnip babies all around the base, too.
Monarda - my mother in law gave me some of this last year. Now I know why. It’s very beautiful, though, and in a contained area so it should be kept in check. I moved the clump to another place, and where it once sat, this year, it sprang from the earth again. I must have left a little piece of root behind.
Raspberries - also from my mother in law. We got three canes from her last year. Here’s the result so far.
Cherry Bells Campanula - These have taken over the entire small bed the first plant went into mid-way through last summer. The most prolific self-sower I’ve had yet.
I keep hearing that fancy, mega-expensive containers are one of the current trends in gardening this year. To which I reply with a big fat WHATEVER. You can keep your fancy-schmancy urns and leave all of that quality junk for me.
I found this discarded orange crate while walking through one of Toronto’s “nicer” neighbourhoods. Crates are just tall enough to accomodate leafy greens or herbs with shallow root systems. I decided to fill this one up with a crop of mache. Mache is the de rigour green of the uppercrust and a good choice if growing lettuce feels like a waste of time and space. The succulent leaves make a delicious salad (especially good with figs and blue cheese) but fetches a hefty sum at your typical Whole Foods.
Little work is required to prep your crate for growing. The bottom of mine had large spaces between slats and required some kind of coverage to hold soil in. Alternatively, crates with solid bottoms will require drainage holes to let water out. I laid an average-sized plastic shopping bag inside the crate and cut a bunch of small holes with a pair of scissors to make drainage. The key here is making a vessel that will hold soil, but adding drainage back so your seedlings aren’t swimming during a heavy rainfall.
Next, I filled up the crate with good quality container soil. A cheap container plus cheap soil, equals too much cheap! When it comes to container soil you get what you pay for. Your best bet is usually with the mid-ranged priced soils. Avoid the Miracle Grow stuff if you can. Fill your container to the top and tamp it in with your hands. You want to remove the air pockets and make a respectably flat surface. Don’t go crazy with it — a level is not required.
Once you’ve got your soil in place, cut around the edges with the scissors to remove the excess plastic bag. Pour a handful of seed into your hand and spread it thinly, and evenly across the soil surface. Don’t worry if you have too many seeds as you can remove excess plants later. Add another 1/4″ of soil on top of the seeds and water everything in well.
Leafy greens prefer cool weather and shadier spots. Plants will bolt in hot weather which means that they quickly go to seed and become bitter. How much sun is too much depends on your conditions and the time of year. Mine are currently placed in a sunny spot on my rooftop deck because the daytime temperatures are in the light sweater to spring jacket plus long sleeve shirt range. I will move it to a shady spot when the heat picks up. Water your container everyday. Soon you will see little tiny plants emerging. Here are what mine looked like today 15 days after sowing. Mache can take as much as 20 days to emerge from below the soil so don’t give up if yours take their sweet time. Be patient!
Other suggestions for your crate:
- Rouge d’hiver lettuce
- Red orach
- Kale (grown as baby kale only)
- Thyme – lemon, lavender, orange, silver…
The one-stop crack distribution depo of the Canadian gardening world recently opened a store in downtown Toronto, and… ummm… I have been there twice in two days. I want to state for the record that prior to this I have never purchased a Lee Valley product, somehow managing to walk past the booths at garden shows and peruse the catalogue with barely a gleam in my eye. But something about stepping into the store where catalogue shopping meets department store released a deep-rooted nostalgia for the long retired Canadian institution Consumers Distributing.
I need an intervention.
And it doesn’t stop with me. I went in on the first day for a peek and came home with almost $100 worth of miscellaneous gardening implements — this coming from the person who preaches gardening on a dime. Then I went home and glanced through the catalogue on my own time, realizing that it was necessary that I go back for at least one additional item. This time I brought Davin along with me who was immediately taken in by all the fancy wood turning blocks, safety goggles, various glues, and build-it kits. He can’t shut up about the massive selection of fancy door locks. Because really all our apartment requires are a few new/old skeleton key locks to launch it out of its current bad 80′s renovation pickle.
Here’s a few of the items I bought. I plan to review these when I finish testing them.
- Windowsill Seed Starter - I pay $20 for styrofoam so you don’t have to. The first problem I noticed was no tagging system. I fixed that by fashioning tiny tags that don’t interfer with the dome using toothpicks, sticker paper, and an indelible marker. So far I don’t mind it as it fits perfectly on my narrow windowsill and I haven’t had to even think about watering for days. However, seedlings are only just starting to emerge and my suspicion is that the real challenge will come as they near transplant size.
- Rootrainers – Interesting idea but I can’t test it since it did not come with a bottom tray and the sizing is awkward. I’ll have to wait until it warms up to try this one outside.
- Quick Row Covers – Right out of the box I can tell you these things stink. My community garden plot is too tiny for the traditionally-sized row covers so these are a lame compromise.
- Upside-Down Planter – I have attempted this feat on a few occassions with a found bucket but I can’t get it to work out. My last bucket broke and smashed to the ground only minutes after hanging it. I’ll let you know how the pre-fab product works out. I suspect it will be a success, but it makes me feel like a failure to cough up $20 for plastic, foam, and tenting material.