Tag Archives: herbs

Finally! Let’s Get Started!

1 Jun

This year was going to get off to a late start no matter what. We’re still waiting on roof and deck repairs (see previous post from February), but now we have a construction start date! Besides that, we had nearly a month of rain and unseasonably cool temps, including a few late frosts into May. Little guys wouldn’t have had a chance.

But, we went from 50ish degrees and raining last Sunday to sunny and nearly 90 last Thursday! I hope the cold is finally behind us. Last week I bought new pots and potting soil. Wound up with a bit of a different plan than I had a few months ago, but I think this will be just fine.

First, I started my seedlings off in March, a bit late, knowing that I’d probably not be able to plant them for a few extra weeks because of the roof construction. Some were in peat pots, some were in plastic pots I’d saved from the past, all into salad containers for ease of movement and watering. I put them on a table in the hallway because that part of the building gets a lot of sun. Peat pots are great because they are super cheap and you can just plant the whole thing when the time comes. The plant’s roots will come right through, so there’s much less of a chance of transplant shock. However, they do dry out much faster than plastic pots. New chocolate mint, too. I saw it while shopping for new pots and I just couldn’t resist. Also, some green onions I got in the grocery store that I resprouted.

Photo May 08, 1 54 41 PM

This year I also used salad containers. Just filled them with potting mix and planted cucumbers in one, Mexican gherkins in another, and basil in the last one. All three types of containers wound up being terrific in the end.

Photo May 21, 8 29 03 PM Photo May 21, 8 29 55 PM

I moved everyone upstairs to the elevator landing for about a week before moving them outside. It was much warmer up there, and I was able to get them right on top of the windows. Then outside for a few days, checking to make sure they were not drying out or limp. Because they are right against the building, they got a good amount of shade, too.

This past weekend was planting time. Each teeny tiny tomato went into a 26 quart pot with two little basils, except for one that got parsley. Not sure if the parsley is going to make it, but if not, I could always put another parsley in there. Right now I have one yellow pear tomato, two red cherries, and two roma plants. I’m considering keeping one of the extra romas I still have for another pot. Really want to make up and then can some paste, ketchup, and tomato sauce this summer.

Photo May 30, 7 06 24 PM Photo May 29, 4 44 54 PM

I also have a new large herb pot with two parsleys, dill, oregano, and thyme. Mint, of course, has its own pot. My mother bought me a gigantic rosemary plant that got its own 26 quart pot, too.

Photo May 30, 7 06 19 PM Photo May 24, 3 30 38 PM Photo May 31, 5 10 56 PM Photo May 24, 6 54 15 PM

 

Into one tank, 7 cucumbers, 3 Mexican gherkins, and two bell peppers. I bought two pieces of lattice trellis things specifically for the climbing things so they don’t have to lay on the fencing anymore. Notice in this photo the tank is not in it’s normal spot! It’s right in front of the entry door for now. Argh. Anyway, the second tank still has some carrots and kale from last year, but I’ll eventually put the rest of the peppers in there, including one hot pepper. Might get a second hot pepper.

Photo May 30, 7 08 29 PM Photo May 30, 7 16 37 PM

Haven’t planted the sweet peas yet. Might do that in the second tank with the peppers.

Now that I have something to write about, I’ll be updating again on a regular basis.

 

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Fall Harvest Update

4 Nov

GREAT SUCCESS!

Radishes, kale, and carrots are happily growing upstairs! A few weeks ago we had a few unseasonably early cold nights, down to the low 30s. It would have been toast for everyone had I not covered up the tank with towels. Plastic would have been better, but I didn’t have any immediately available. One frost would have done it to them, and I know that others lost plants that weren’t covered. So, we continue to grow. Lots of rain a few weeks ago helped out a lot, too. Here are some recent photos of fall growth from the tank. The white bulbs are watermelon radishes, the red are “fire and ice” and are VERY spicy! The purple kale is really good, too.

Photo Oct 27, 5 45 15 PM Photo Oct 27, 5 42 55 PM Photo Oct 21, 4 35 26 PM Photo Oct 21, 4 35 07 PM

 

Photo Nov 04, 12 50 19 PMI moved the pots of herbs to a different part of the roof near the tomatoes. They have several hours of shade every day now, and I think they really like that more than full sun. They have even started to grow back! I think next year I’ll leave them in the same spot. Even herbs that are supposed to enjoy full sun seem to be doing much better.

 

 

Photo Oct 16, 3 59 14 PMI also pulled up the marigolds from the second tank which gave those sad pepper plants the sun they had been deprived of all year. They immediately started to make fruit, so now I have several tiny SPICY hot peppers. One of them I chopped up and have sitting in olive oil, so now I have some flavor to add to my dishes.

 

 

 

 

Photo Oct 27, 6 50 59 PMSpeaking of cooking….I sauteed the kale and radish greens with a bit of the garlic and spicy pepper. A squeeze of lemon juice and some freshly grated parm and it made a great addition to spaghetti! I’m really enjoying the fresh greens. The carrots aren’t growing as fast as I thought they would, but I’ve been feeding them to Dolley. I have heard no objections.

 

 

 

Oh, and I’ve been pickling the radishes, of course.Photo Oct 27, 10 08 33 PM

Of Pickles and Preservation

8 Jul

Good news, bad news.

First, the bad news, because it’s quick. Pepper plants never really took off. All three look scrawny, never settled in. Leaves are still green, but they just didn’t grow. Yeah, that scrawny thing in the middle is a pepper…that should have fruit on it by now. Because it didn’t grow, everything else around it had a chance to get big. Debating pulling them now.

Photo Jul 02, 4 14 17 PM

Now, the good news. I have lots of cucumbers, herbs, and onions! I actually discovered a few cucumbers today that I hadn’t seen before. I picked 7 of them last week, and I’ll probably get another 5 or 6 again this weekend. Might have been a few too many at once, sooooo……

IT’S PICKLE TIME!!!!

Photo Jun 26, 1 17 25 PM Photo Jul 01, 9 32 25 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the pickle recipe I put together after reading some others online:

1 1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegarPhoto Jun 26, 2 26 03 PM
1 T kosher or sea salt
1 T sugar (2 T if you like sweeter pickles)
1 tsp whole peppercorns
2 tsp dill, dried (or 1 T fresh, chopped)
3 cucumbers, 5″ to 6″ long, sliced into 1/4″ chips
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, chopped

Microwave water and vinegar until hot, not necessary to boil. Add salt and sugar and stir until dissolved. Add peppercorns and dill. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Layer cucumber slices and garlic in a sterilized 1 quart jar. Pour in brine mixture and tap the jar or gently stir with a skewer to remove most of the air bubbles. Seal the jar and refrigerate.

Pickles will be ready after 24 hours, but are tastiest after at least a week. This batch is two weeks now and is really good.
Photo Jun 26, 2 34 14 PM
Another fun preservation method, and possibly my favorite, is dehydration.

I planted the roots of organic green onions I had purchased from the grocery store, and a few weeks later I had huge green onions. One even split into two! I chopped those up into rounds and used the screens that fit on the trays to prevent smaller leaves from falling through. I set my dehydrator to 135 degrees, and after a few hours, I had dried onions that I can use for anything! Dip, soup, bread. Whatever.

Photo Jun 28, 8 42 50 PM Photo Jun 30, 3 07 34 PM

 

 

Photo Jul 01, 3 45 19 PM Photo Jun 30, 2 59 16 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also made kale chips in the dehydrator. First time I’ve used it for kale. In the past I’ve made them in the oven, but it’s super hot out now IN JULY, so dehydrator it was. Am I growing kale on the roof? No, no I’m not. Kale has come in my CSA box from Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Virginia for the past month, and I finally got tired of it. Plus, chips last longer and are fun to eat! After cleaning them very well, I spun them dry and added some extra virgin olive oil. Then I spread them out on the trays and sprinkled on some sea salt. Wound up about 10 hours at 125, which I thought was a long time. Next time I’ll put it up higher. I did rotate the trays after a few hours.

Photo Jul 02, 9 59 47 PM

I’ve also been drying herbs. They take a few hours on about 110-120. Sage, rosemary, basil in this batch and yes, I did dry them all together. Used the screens here as well. Worked nicely. I’ve also dried mint and oregano.

Photo Jun 30, 3 02 57 PM (1)

New Homes for Little Plants!

8 May

Plants have been moving into their new homes over the past week or so.

I finally moved the parsley and basil into the pot with some other herbs. They seem to be loving it!  I saw that the cotton flannel I put in the bottom of the pots to prevent dirt from falling through was starting to disintegrate, and some roots were able to pop through. Very happy there. Also helped keep everything together.

Photo May 03, 3 36 16 PM   Photo May 03, 3 30 57 PM

Here they are, all together.

Photo May 05, 5 24 51 PM

Baby cucumbers moved into their tank, too. Only four of the six survived, so I’m starting two more inside. I hope they’ll be able to move out in about two weeks. That will also help me stagger the harvest a bit.

Photo May 04, 4 25 25 PM   Photo May 04, 7 49 52 PM

All six tomatoes are doing very well! Three red cherry plants, three yellow pear. They are now living outside all the time, except when it’s really windy. The peat pots are very light. Also I am watering them twice a day because they dry out super fast. I still need to drill drainage holes in the white 5 gallon buckets that I now use for water so I can put the tomatoes into them. I think being in the smaller containers will also help them retain a bit more water. We’ll see. I bought potting soil and garden soil. I’ll do a mix of that for them.

Photo May 06, 6 44 11 PM   Photo May 04, 4 14 08 PM

Dumped one bucket of compost onto the tanks last week before I put the cucumbers in, so I was able to start a new batch of compost. It’s already looking REALLY good, lots of creatures flying around and eating all the whatever. Very active.

Photo May 02, 7 33 19 PM

Finally, visitors. Apparently we have wasps up there, but Farmer Russell assures me they’re beneficial. I promise to stay out of their way. So far I’ve just seen one at a time and they don’t seem to be interested in me at all. I’ve checked the whole roof for nests, so we’re clear there. Plus, they’re gone by the evening.

Photo May 07, 11 08 06 AM   Photo May 03, 3 25 13 PM

A Slow Start to 2015

29 Apr

We’ve had a few nights in the 40s in the past week, so I’m glad I haven’t put anything out yet in the garden.

However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been preparing behind the scenes. I started some seedlings inside a few weeks ago, and they’re actually looking fairly decent. I know I said I wouldn’t have tomatoes this year, but I’ve decided I’ll put them in the buckets and not the tanks. One plant per. I have 6 little tomato seedlings now, three yellow pears and three red cherries. I also started 6 cucumbers, but only four are looking good. I’ve been taking them outside during the day and they sleep inside. I hope to have them all planted in about two weeks.

Photo Apr 28, 1 34 07 PM I decided to put a bunch of herbs into the huge pot I used have only for rosemary. Now rosemary, tarragon, and sage are sharing a space. I will eventually add in the parsley I started several months ago, and possibly the basil. They are now living in the hallway, getting direct sunlight every day.

Photo Apr 20, 4 01 18 PMPhoto Apr 19, 4 05 07 PM

ShmErin got a huge dumpster full of mulch from the City of Alexandria. Wound up being a liiiiiittle bit more than she had anticipated! I took some to beef up the tanks. I’m going to add the compost on to it this weekend, too.

Photo Apr 19, 3 58 23 PMPhoto Apr 19, 3 58 26 PM

Finally, my neighbors and I bought some new solar LEDs. I put them up last night all along the fence. They look great.

Photo Apr 28, 9 25 45 PM

More Window Sill Lovelies

6 Apr

I think we’re past the point of freezing, but who knows. We had a frost in May last year. I’m going to mix my new compost into the tanks this weekend and do some seeding. I’ll start with radishes, cucumbers, and carrots. I don’t think I’m going to go for tomatoes this year, as they require a lot more water than I think I can handle.

But good news! ShmErin will be joining us on the blog! She and her fiance moved in to an adorable 90+ year old house and they are working on their yard. She will be chronicling here.

Until then, here is my window sill garden! Basil and parsley are the same from TWO MONTHS AGO. They haven’t gotten much larger, but they’re still happy. In the middle is the celery. I soaked the root end of a left over bunch of celery and it started to grow new leaves in a few days, then eventually some little roots. Yesterday I potted it. We’ll see how it does.

Window sill garden

Window sill garden

Here is the new celery…

Photo Apr 05, 11 39 05 AM Photo Apr 05, 11 36 49 AM

Garden Catch Up On A Rainy Fall Day

17 Nov

It’s cold and rainy out today. I’m going to think happy garden thoughts so my feet will warm up.

2014 was a mildly upsetting year up on the roof, though that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything! Over the next few weeks I’ll post by general topic instead of a play-by-play.

First, a catch up.

IMG_4947

Herbs. Dead rosemary, returning chives, returning thyme.

All in all, my “harvest” was much smaller than in years past. We had some gross cold, cold weather that actually killed my rosemary plant. It had been doing really well over the years, and I had given it a much larger pot. I thought it was pretty hardy. I heard that lots of other folks lost their rosemary. The rest of my herbs came back, though. Chives, thyme, and oregano all came back in their pots. I planted new parsley in a pot, and then both green and purple basil in one of the tanks from seed. They wound up doing well. I still have not replaced the rosemary. Debating what to do there, if I should try some indoor herb gardening this year. I brought one plant inside last week but I don’t know if I want to make a whole indoor garden out of it.

IMG_4948

Tank 1, cucumber seed, bean seedling, tank 2.

Then we had a bit of a cold snap in May that killed off several seedlings I had started indoors and had replanted outside. I started beans inside. They died, so I wound up planting them a second time. Here are my tanks and some wee baby seeds. The tank on the top wound up with cucumbers, beans, and beets. The one on the bottom had the same as last year, two tomato plants, variety of carrots, and the aforementioned green and purple basils. I planed fewer carrots than last year, and I think they grew much better because of it.

I decided to tackle my problems with water this year. I built (what I thought would be) a great rain barrel! You’ll have to wait for my next post for my great 2014 water adventure.

The highlight of this year was certainly my composting abilities. I had two buckets that did really well. I’ll save that for another post as well.

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