Guest post by Emira Mears
I’m a pretty big fan of Branch the currently online/soon to also be a physical store in San Francisco that bills itself as a purveyor of Sustainable Design for Living. They have a pretty great gardening section that seems to be a combo of novelty grow-in-one containers and some graceful design pieces like the Perch birdfeeder.
I just received their latest email newsletter and was inexplicably charmed by the very absurd Plant Me Pets. I think it might be the kind of situationist overtones of their “Plant Me” and “I’m the Tomato” badges that really seals the deal for me. I might just need one of these for work to remind me of the dirt waiting for me at home.
Phase 1 of “Project Deck Garden 2006″ was enacted yesterday afternoon. It was inspired by a sunny day and a headache that wouldn’t quit, which not surprisingly, was abated after a few hours in the fresh air. I won’t bore you with the details as Phase 1 involves large helpings of gardening’s lesser joys; clean-up, pot shifting, and organization. Instead I will list the enjoyable activities:
- Planting the “fancy”, or as I like to call them, the ‘Not 99 Cent’ pansies I bought last week. You know you’re shopping at a chi-chi garden store when they give you a paper bag for a couple of pansies.
- I then proceeded to cover the ‘Not 99 Cent’ pansies with several water bottle cloches (I’ve graduated to 4L bottles) as the flowers had all been snatched off. For years I’ve been blaming raccoons and squirrels but it turns out the thieves are my beloved starlings! WHY? Are the generous quantities of seed not enough? Can’t bargain with the birds. And incidentally the pansies do have a nice flavour.
- I planted two kinds of peas: a dwarf variety called ‘Tom Thumb’, and a sugar/snow variety I am trying for the first time called ‘Carouby de Maussane’. I decided on these instead of sweet peas as the flowers are purple and the peas are edible.
- Greens Galore – Mizuna, red mustard, several different lettuces, orach, purslane, and mache. I planted up just about every container that is currently empty, including some that will hold hot weather veggies since I’ve got nearly six weeks before the transplants go in and I will just remove some of the lettuce at that time. I’ve got a lot of seeds to use up. However, I just realized I’m out of arugula seeds! Ack!
- Radish Challenge 2006 – I can’t recall planting radishes this early in previous years which may say a lot about why I have rarely succeded in growing a decent, edible radish. The rooftop deck is windier than a ground floor garden, but it also gets very, very hot. The season is always a bit accelerated up there, resulting in lousy radishes (but early tomatoes!). This year I will grow a decent radish if it kills me. [Shakes fist in air]
- Carrots – I planted just a couple of the ‘Purple Haze’ in the container where the beans will go as an experiment. It really is impossible to think about this variety without singing the song… or imagining dudes with tie-dyed head bands dropping liquid acid onto their eyeballs. Just saying.
And then Davin showed up to help and informed me that in the tradition of bizarre, unexplainable things that happen around the street garden, someone had left a plastic wrapped cauliflower in the garden as a gift. But it seems, in an even stranger twist, that in exchange, they took the large paper bags that were holding the compostables that were waiting to be put out for city collection. Yes, they left the plant bits sitting on the sidewalk, but took the completely dilapitated and unusable bags. Huh? I REALLY have to get on making those signs I’ve been meaning to make since 2000.
Another seed order arrived in the mail from Greta’s Organic Gardens. I need to get on these asap as time is ticking. The bulk of these are tomato varieties I am testing out on the rooftop this year.
- Tomato ‘Golden Delight’
- Tomato ‘Principe Borghese’ – A paste tomato
- Tomato ‘Gold Nugget’
- Tomato ‘Black Seaman’ – An early variety.
- Red Pepper ‘Fatalii’ – I HAD to get them!
- Red lambsquarter
- Shungiku – There was a problem with the order. They accidently sent me hot peppers (a chili) but the replacement is on its way. I won’t use these hot peppers as I have a few other varieties on the go. The first Canadian to ask is welcome to them.
- Purple Millet ‘Purple Majestic’
Can you believe I have one more small order on its way? Yikes. And now I have to get some arugula! Yeah and did I mention the seeds I impulse-bought off a rack last week?
- Nicotiana ‘Indian Peace Pipe’ – These are by far my favourite nicotiana. They are huge (5′ tall) with fragrant, elongated blossoms.
- Marigold ‘Lemon/Tangerine Gem’ blend – I grew these last year and was so impressed, I’ve been promoting these like crazy since. They are incredibly prolific bloomers, the flowers are tiny with lacy foliage. And they really do taste like tangerines and lemons! They did really well in containers on my hot rooftop but keep in mind that the plants get to be quite large and rotund.
- Quinoa ‘Brightest Brilliant Rainbow’ – 2006 seems to be the year of hippie plants. Pretty and edible. I can not resist.
- Nasturtium ‘Mahogany’ – I have tasted enough nasturtiums to know that the red ones have the best flavour.
Guest post by Renee Garner
Most people would agree, gardening is an art form. Artist Paula Hayes takes this statement literally, but intensive devotion elevates her gardening into gallery worthy, fine art. Her delicate glass terrariums depict an idealistic quest most gardeners can relate to, but the interaction of plants to their tiny biosphere evokes a spiritual connection with materials often considered mundane. Hayes lives in New York City and is currently working on her terrariums and many gardens around the United States. Visit her interactive website here and learn more about her and see the progression of her fiber-based work to gardens.
Guest post by Amy Urquhart
I disovered a cool magazine when I was visiting my grandmother a couple of weekends ago. It’s called Birds and Blooms (Beauty in Your Own Backyard). It’s an American publication dedicated to showcasing…well, you guessed it: birds and plants (and butterflies too).
My interest in gardening extends back a few years, but just last year we started putting up bird feeders and buying bird seed and used a field guide to identify the feathered friends in our yard. So I was really happy to find a magazine that combines these two interests in such a natural way.
Guest post by Christina Radisauskas
I work at a university that has finally decided to develop a “sustainability initiative.” Because I am a librarian, I was asked to create a bibliography of resources to enhance our faculty’s understanding of the concept and how they might incorporate it into their departments’ curricula. While I worked on this project, it was difficult for me to keep from looking at all of the gardening-related sites that I kept finding. Of course, there are zillions, but one that I really liked, and have gone back to from time to time, is gardensimply.com. There is plenty to look at there, and it is written with the layperson in mind. The books section is lacking, unfortunately, but overall, I think it is a fun site with a lot of practical advice about things like building compost and worm bins, preparing a new garden, identifying your soil type, etc. My favorite page on this site has got to be the what-to-do-when-in-your-zone. Now, if only I could get myself to remind myself to look at it in time…
While I’m at it, here’s another few sites for wanna-be environmentalists. Ideal Bite is a down-to-earth site containing tips for “greener” living – from shampooing your rugs to using natural lubricants (shhh…) I get their Daily Tips in my email, and quite often I learn something new.
Eartheasy is another site that has tons of suggestions about where to buy natural clothing, how to conserve energy in the kitchen, how to give environmentally friendly gifts, etc. In case you are interested in digging a bit deeper, their suggested reading list is pretty good, too.
Taking the EcoFoot quiz to get an idea of how your lifestyle relates to the natural resources available is eye-opening. I’m embarrassed to say that according to my results, if everybody lived the way I do, we would need 4 earths to sustain us. Eek! I am a gluttonous pig!