Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday Weekly Update 2

Overview

Last post, I mentioned that I had put together a container with Green Onions, Cinnamon Basil, and Sweet Basil for some friends. I was down in DC for birthdays this weekend and the gift went over well. In my personal life, I have been striving to be more "present" in my life meaning to ignore my phone/text/emails/etc when Im with my friends. To focus intensely on whatever Im dealing with at that most. Ironically, by giving up the quest to do five things at once, I have found that Im happier and more productive. This weekend was a big test for me. I watered my plants on Friday and had a friend coming to water to water them on Sunday. In my head, I thought this would be enough, but in my heart, I was a little concerned. Monday night, when I should have been sleeping in DC getting ready to head back on NYC on Tuesday, I looked at the weather report and just about had a nervous breakdown looking at how incredibly hot The City was while I was away. And remember, it is always hotter on the rooftop than the surrounding area.
When I arrived home on Tuesday night, I ran up the stairs to the roof and saw a complex picture (sadly, I was too frantic to think about taking pictures). Oddly, my plants all seemed to have had a growth spurt and to be look super wilted. I broke one of my cardinal rules of only watering in the morning because I was honestly concerned that some plants in the smaller containers would not have made it until the morning. I was able to go to sleep happily listening to a gentle light rain overhead, too. So how did the plants look in the morning, lets see below. (I had the flash off this morning, so the pictures look like I have a lame instagram filter on them, but I dont. Sorry about that.)

Blue Corn, Alaska Peas, and Sugar Snap Peas in DIY Container B

Container last week

3 Stalks are baby Blue Corn all others are either Alaska Peas and Sugar Snap Peas. This week.
So, the corn stalks literally doubled in height and thickness. I am still having the issue of the peas growing faster than the corn, so I cant really train the peas up the corn. This weekend, I will stand up two bamboo stakes on the side and train the peas up them. The giant leaves with rounded edges do not look like peas to me, but I already had enough comedy of errors in the container so they will remain for now. I really hope that they are not squashes. As for the freakish growth spurt, I am not sure if it is the excessive heat, their natural growth cycle, or the fact that the soil was able to dry out completely before watering. I plan to do some experiments in the future.

Sweet Potatoes in DIY Container

 
2 Beauregard Sweet Potatoes and 4 "Purple Passon" Sweet Potatoes

Something is eating my Sweet Potato leaves!
And there is a weird rust coloring around the bites.

This morning, I planted out four of the "Purple Passions" in this container. The two Beauregards that were already there seem to be doing well. Some pest seems to be munching on some of the leaves. I have checked underneath the leaves of all the plants on the roof and havent found the culprit, which means that it is probably a transient pest. I think that means that I shouldnt panic or use a garlic spray for now, but will ask the farm director (who knows just about everything farming) tomorrow at the Bushwick Campus Farm.

Empty DIY Container C - will be used to plant out Purple Passions

5 "Purple Passions" awaiting planting
 On Saturday, Im going to be doing a work day and will be planting out these plants then. I wanted to wait a couple days to see if there was any issue with the ones that were planted out today. If there is, then I will be recruiting one of my expert gardener friends for help. I refuse to lose another group of sweet potatoes!

Sunburst Sunflowers and Butterfly/Hummingbird Mix - DIY Container D

 
5 Sunburst Sunflowers and hummingbird/butterfly mix

The sunflower plants have also had a huge growth spurt. The leaves have an interesting texture. It is kinda softly prickly versus the hard prickles of Borage. Never noticed this on a sunflower plant before. Everything else in here seems to be growing well in here. As opposed to the container below.

Sunburst and Beneficial Bug Attractors in DIY Self-Watering Container 1

  
Three Sunburst Sunflowers surrounded by a Beneficial Bug mix.

A closeup in the container. Many of the Beneficial Bug plants are dying out since the sunflowers are taking over.

In this container, the sunflowers have pretty much taken over. The leaves are so big that they are blocking the smaller plants below. As I have a mild obsession with sunflowers, I am going to allow this to continue and just plant two other containers with the plant mix. Hopefully, the beneficial bugs come soon as something is attacking my sweet potatoes.

Strawberries and German Chamomile

A strawberry!
As I was cutting off the flowers and runners to promote root growth on my two strawberry plants, I expected that this year I would go strawberry-less. It looks like I have a total of five so far, tho. Woohoo! The leaves on one of the plants is a little yellow, but this will hopefully be taken care of with a nice dose of chicken poop tea on Saturday. I will include the how-to then. The German Chamomile still has two plants struggling to come through, but again, I do not care much at this point.

Individual Herb Containers

Lavender A
Lavender B

 
Rosemary

Everything looks good here! Hoo ray for Mediterranean herbs that love the heat and actually do better when they are allowed to dry out before watering.

Mixed French Culinary Herbs

Mild discoloration on leaf.

 
French herb mixture

Things seem to be going well here. Again, it is a group of herbs that love drying out before watering. One of the leaves is a little discolored, which probably means a little Potassium deficiency. On my Saturday workday, I will be using a little chicken poop tea on the plants. This should handle the situation. If not, Ill feed them with a little bone meal.

A Pepper Plant and Marigolds in DIY Self-Watering Container 2

Pepper Plant and Marigolds
 So the pepper plant seems to be doing really well and the Marigolds are starting to bloom. Ill be planting out some Tomatoes this weekend, and I will be digging up two of the Marigolds here and transfer them over to the new container. Given how little space the actual pepper plant is taken up in the container, I think that I might be able to fit two in one container next year. If only it would hurry up and fruit so I can figure out what kind of pepper plant that it is!

Paul Robeson and Brandywine Tomatoes in DIY Self-Watering Container 3 and 4

Paul Robeson Tomato on left and Brandywine on right
The Paul Robeson plant really thrived in the past week, too. Last night, I went through and picked off the flowers and the fruit. I will prune both of these plants on Saturday to allow for better air circulation and hopefully force the plant to get a little bit taller before allowing it to fruit.

Solo Purple Mizuna Plants (3) and Mint Plants (2)

Purple Mizuna plants in the center. Mint top and bottom.
So, Im still figuring out how to get the angles right on the photographs for the blog as you can see. These plants seriously looked completely dead last night. They have been incredibly revived over night. I have the mint nearby to ward off pests as they are still a little weakened.

Kale and Purple Mizuna in DIY Self-Watering Container 3

Jagged edges = Purple Mizuna and Bumpy leaves = Kale
 As you can see here. The Purple Mizuna just grows unbelievably well in the self-watering container. Ill be planting out the other three Purple Mizunas in a container this weekend. I made a salad with the Purple Mizuna on Friday and by Wednesday this is how it looks. What a prolific grower.

Various Plants Awaiting Planters 

Squashes, German Chamomile, Cinnamon Basils, Sunflowers, and more
Basil with some droopy leaves. Just about all the leaves on the roof looked like that last night.
Brandywine awaiting a container this weekend.
Paul Robeson struggling under the heat started shooting out flowers.
Flowers before picking.
All of these bad boys will be planted out this weekend.
Things look like they are going slowly but surely here. Most of these will be planted out during the Saturday workday.

Thats all for this week. Thanks for reading!
- Monti