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Grow Some Tasty Grass For Your Bunny

26 Mar

Want to make your buns super happy? Grow some fresh grass at home in under a week!

Equipment:

– Wheatgrass. (Buy in bulk for best price, usually under $2/pound. Look for hard winter wheat or wheat berries.)
– Clean containers of the same size that will stack into one another, plus one extra. (I like round plastic takeout style containers because they’re easy to clean and move around.)
– Potting mix. (Nothing special. Just a handful or two per container.)
– Heavy plastic. (Thickness of a ziplock bag, think. Anything will work, recycle if you can!)
– Water & love

1) Soak about 1/2 cup of wheatgrass overnight. This will wind up making about 2-3 containers worth, depending on the size of your container. I started with (L-R) buckwheat, wheatgrass, and barley. (We’ll ignore the barley and buckwheat for now. I don’t think the buckwheat sprouted properly, but the stuff I used was VERY old.)

2) The next day, prepare your containers. I added about 3/4″ of potting mix to the clean containers, and then pressed it down using the other container. This part is important! You want to create a good base for your roots. (Wheatgrass doesn’t actually need a growing medium, but it takes way longer without.)

3) Sprinkle your soaked seeds over the prepared potting mix so you don’t see any mix, but try to get just a single layer. Water each container so the mix is saturated.

4) Cut a piece of plastic wide enough to cover your container, with an additional 1″-2″ all the way around. Place a piece of plastic on top of each layer of seeds, and put another container on top. Don’t stack more than three containers. The final layer should be an empty container with a gentle weight, like a jar.

4) No need to water, and no peeking! (Well, maybe just this once.) The seeds will germinate very quickly in the dark. Left photos are the day after planting, right is two days after planting, and time to move to the next step.
5) Unstack and put the containers in a box that you can easily close. I always throw a towel on top to keep the top and sides of the box closed. You want to block out as much light as possible. Leave the plastic lightly on top of the containers. Remove the plastic after the second day to avoid mold.

6) In about two days, you’ll have yellow grass about 3″-4″ tall. Take it out, put it in the sun (or even just indoor light), and it will continue to turn green and grow. Water just a bit every day from now on.

7) Once the grass has reached 5″-6″ in another day, you’re ready to serve! Total time: 6-7 days.

8) You can let him or her nibble on their own, or trim it and serve. Buns will eat down to the white part, where it will naturally regrow. You can get two good grow cycles, maaaaaybe three. Growth does slow down after the second trim, so I usually just toss the whole thing into the compost and start over. If you want to trim it yourself, cut at that same point.

Indoor update!

11 Mar

Since losing my garden last year, I’ve focused a lot more on indoor plants. This winter, however, I wanted to start some miniature tomato and pepper plants. I bought some grow lights and made this little set up. They were inexpensive and super easy to set up. I’ll probably move them around in a bit. They are connected to a timer, so I don’t have to remember to turn them on an off every day. 

 

The plants seem to LOVE the lights. I have to work on transplanting them all to larger containers. I’ll take care of that this weekend. The yellow fly tape is TERRIFIC. The fungus gnats are annoying, but they’re not interested in anything besides the plants.

I started everything from seed in late Jan. (I always mark dates on the tags when I start.) Here I have micro tom tomatoes from Baker Creek, several kinds of purple and green basil, parsley, hot jigsaw peppers, and hot Peruvian aji peppers, and some dwarf sweet alyssum. The wheatgrass in the corner is for my bunny, Miss Elliott Hopsalot. I have a lot of that lining the windowsill, too.

Some of the basil will be donated to the Central Library’s Plot Against Hunger garden to go into the tanks in a few weeks. 

New year, new garden

3 Jun

Sad news to report, my garden friends.

In January, my condo board declared that I had to get rid of the marvelous tanks that brought greenery, vegetables, and enjoyment to the rooftop for years. Why? A bunch of weak reasonings, including weight (they had no idea how much the tanks weighed, plus they’re 1/3 styrofoam, remember, so they weigh less than 25 lbs psf fully loaded), “visuals” (I was told that people didn’t like them, except for all of my neighbors and the half-dozen realtors who included photos of the garden in condo listings since 2011), and basically that I don’t share, which was news to my neighbors who had been picking tomatoes, beans, herbs, and onions as they desire since I started.

Needless to say, I was crushed. But rather than fight what we were sure would be a losing battle, I decided to donate the tanks to the Arlington Food Assistance Center to be used to grow food for Plot Against Hunger. We moved the tanks in early March, and they are now happily growing food outside the Arlington Central Library.

I still have a garden, though it’s much smaller. The usual suspects, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, parsnips, kale, herbs, etc. This year I also have a number of hot peppers so I can make some sort of hot sauce. I’m also pleased to report that the asparagus we planted last year (that I had to remove from a tank and transplant) is doing really well! I’m hoping that by next year, I’ll be able to pick a few pieces.

More to update soon, including my presentation to members of the Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture earlier this spring.

About Those Cucamelons…

24 Sep

Part of my hand is famous! My 3 seconds of fame.

I’ve tried to grow cucamelons/Mexican gherkins for a few years after a friend told me about them and we traded seeds. They are the size of grapes, look like watermelons, and taste like lemony cucumbers. But, they did’t grow. Lots of buds, but they never took off. I was so bummed!

Then, we gleaned a ton of them earlier this past July at Baywater Farms on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, so that was pretty cool.

 

I was so jealous…of this 150 year old organic farm in an idyllic setting. Well, I was more frustrated that mine wouldn’t grow! Just LOOK at them!

My plants must have heard my quiet cries and hopes for their future, so they decided to get crackin’ and start producing. All of a sudden, I saw about a dozen little gherkins on the one plant that was going crazy on the roof. I thought late August was a bit late for them, but it was still pretty hot out, so if they’re happy, I’m happy.

 

I shared my gardening joy on Instagram and was contacted by a producer for Thrillist who was doing a story on these little guys. She wanted a video of me cutting into one of my darlings. I contrasted it with what is actually a teeny tiny watermelon in the background.

My hands are famous. This 33 second video, of which you see my hands and vegetables for all of 3 seconds, makes us famous. Roof Garden Gal has reached the big time! I’ll try not to let it go to my head.

It’s 2018 and RGG is on Instagram

4 May

My garden is on Instagram now as @roofgardengal. I apologize for neglecting the detail here on the blog, but I post a lot more over there now. I’ll have to remember to do both! I’ve made some fun updates upstairs this season already, despite the late and stupid cold that didn’t seem to go away, so here’s the first update.

New tank!
We put a third 100 gallon tank upstairs so I can get rid of some of the smaller pots that crack after just one season. Plastic AND terracotta do this, by the way. I was just done with it, and the tanks are easier to water. I also think it looks nicer than having a bunch of pots. Tomatoes, some herbs, and onions will still have their own pots, though.

I started a bunch of seeds inside, but they were pretty slow to take, and many seedlings died. Today I have three tomatoes, two cucumbers, two Mexican gherkins, two peppers, and a bunch of herbs waiting for some consistent weather to go outside. They’re all still pretty small, but I think we’ll be fine. One of the tomatoes looks a little sickly, though. Have to keep an eye on that one. We also had a garlic clove that somehow hid out on the counter. It started to sprout, so I decided to plant it. So far it’s looking good.  I will plant beans this weekend.

This week, I thought I’d start to harden off some of the seedlings. I tried to make little protective covers from 1 gallon containers with the bottoms cut off, but it got too hot out. Everyone went back inside. It’s supposed to cool down next week, so I’ll try again.

The new tank has radishes, golden beets, carrots, and parsnips.
 

We also tried asparagus this year. It takes a few seasons to get established, and I don’t think it’s going to happen, sadly. But aren’t they cute?

Summer’s Here…With Cucumbers

28 Jun

Bla bla bla…started tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peppers, herbs from seed. Planted them. You know the drill. I added a whole bag of organic soil to each tank, and topped off all of the tomato pots. Everyone got food when planted, and tomatoes got a ton of crushed and powdered egg shells. The calcium will hopefully avoid the blossom end rot that I’d dealt with in the past.

One thing I did this year is use plastic containers for pots before ultimately tossing them in the recycling bin.They were great. I used quart yogurt containers, pint sized coconut creamer containers, and cut milk containers in half, drilling holes in all of them. They were large enough that I didn’t have to rush to plant. I’ll do it again next year.

 

Now, we harvest!

Earlier this month I went away for two weeks, and my neighbors watched and watered the garden. They got lucky, as we had the perfect combination of rain and warm weather. Their job was easy, and I came back to GIGANTIC cucumber plants in both tanks! I planted regular cuces and lemon cucumbers, the later being part of a seed trade I did with a friend in the winter. The lemon ones look like lemons but taste normal.

I’ve been picking them for about a week now. I learned that bitter cucumbers are thought to come from irregular watering, which makes sense for me. The difficulty I have with water on the roof sometimes leads to a day or so of improper watering, but I’ve tried to keep up with it this year. Still, the first few green cuces were a bit bitter. Peeling them worked, so I’m not terribly worried. The lemon cucumbers were better though. Taste just like any other cucumber.

Tomorrow…two cucumber recipes!

Adventures in Wheatgrass

16 Jan

A few years ago I experimented with photo-nov-09-5-59-37-pmsprouts. Here is my chia seed sprouting experiment. I also eventually tried mung beans, adzuki beans, and something else I can’t remember. I wanted to try again with wheatgrass this past fall, mostly for snacks for my bunny friends. It’s supposed to be super healthy, but sprouted wheatgrass makes a nice, fresh treat for buns and cats.

I started with hard red wheat berries. Got them from the bulk bin at MOM’s, but I think most grocery stores have at least packaged wheat berry seeds. In bulk it was around $2.49 a pound. I got about 1/2 pound to start with. In a glass jar, cover seeds with water overnight. I used the ring of the canning jar lid and a piece of polyester batting so air can flow and water can easily come out. Drain the seeds, and lay the jar on its side. Rinse the seeds daily for a day or two. This is about 1/2 cup of dry seeds.

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When they begin to sprout, spread them on a 1/4″ layer of potting soil in a shallow container, basically in a single layer, but it doesn’t have to be exact. (Next time I’m going to try hemp fiber or burlap fabric, just enough for the roots to take hold.) I used the bottom of two take out containers. Then slide the containers into a paper bag or cover with a towel until the grass reaches about 2 1/2″ to 3″ or so, maybe two or three days. You don’t want them to get any light. Keep the soil barely wet the whole time.

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When you hit about 3″, put your grass on a sunny window, and it will turn green and grow another inch or two within a few days. Harvest by cutting where the white turns green, and you’ll be able to cut a second time in about four or five days.

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To use, offer to your favorite bunny or cat friend. Dogs might like it too? I don’t know.photo-nov-10-5-09-58-pm For human use, put it through a juicer and drink. I didn’t want to do that, as my juicer is heavy and a pain to clean, so I just cut a portion (about 1″ x 1″ square) and snipped it into small pieces. Into my Magic Bullet blender with the flat blade and some water, and blend, blend, blend! As soon as you think you’re done, blend for another few seconds. When you have green water and green mash, strain into a glass and press the pulp to get out all of the liquid.

Now, I’m going to be honest with you….it tastes like salad, but in a really weird way.

Happy wheatgrassing!

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