Tuesday, April 28, 2009
We discussed the possibility that some of our Phase Two plants may not make it. So, each container garden location now has a stockpile of seedlings to plant in case some of the original plants do not make it. Below, you can see the seedlings in waiting, including the cherry tomatoes (which made a fantastic and full recover from their run-in with death a couple weeks ago), cukes, and tomatoes. They will replace any lost life or will be added to our garden as we obtain additional space. With all the seedlings out of my office (aka the green house), I have room to start the new batches of seeds. Radishes, spinach, and chard will make nice additions but I may also start some new lettuce (just in case our Phase Two has to be re-planted due to the unexpected 90 degree weather).
Walking onto Common Good City Farm is remarkably akin to stepping into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Room, a World of Pure Imagination. Workers are scattered about like Oompa Loompas- digging, watering, wheelbarrowing around the small tract of land. They toil quietly and diligently, while we visitors watch in silent wonder, so as not to break their concentration.
In addition to these industrious Oompa-Loompa types, looking around we realize that everything we see-- and everything that we don’t see yet, but will inevitably sprout within the next several weeks-- EVERYTHING is edible! And while the trees here probably won’t grow jelly apples, the bushes likely won’t sprout lollipops, and the mushrooms certainly won’t be spurting whipped cream any time soon- the creations dotting the outfield of the Common Good Farm are fairly remarkable.
Common Good City Farm is self-defined as “an urban farm and education center, growing food for low-income residents in Washington, DC and providing educational opportunities for all people.” They offer classes of all types and sizes with the goal of mixing expert gardeners with low income urbanites.
Monday, April 27, 2009
On another, happier, note we may be planting the tomatoes and more cukes on the patio today. It is going to be awesome! Also, I will also be starting some new seeds today for the highly anticipated additions to the container garden (spinach, radishes, and chard).
Enjoy the weather and stay clear of the pig flu...
Friday, April 24, 2009
- Swiss Chard
Although the packets said that they should not be started inside, I think I may try anyway. As the weather continues to get warmer, it may be possible to begin starting seeds outside as well. Another idea to consider, we will have to get a schedule together to continuously plant seedlings so that we have lots of veggies as the spring and summer continue on. Our planting and harvesting should flow in a continuous cycle.
I am looking forward to getting these yummy plants started on Sunday. But now, it is time to start the festivities for Foxfield Races....
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
As you can see (to the right), we are nervous new mothers and had to move all the plants inside for fear of the cold. Katherine promised to move them outside tomorrow morning before work.
Tomorrow, the seedlings will move outside and after that, we will see what happens next...
Monday, April 20, 2009
I noticed that the dead seedlings are in the same type of container, while the surviving seedlings are in plastic containers. I don't know if this is at the root of the issue. But, hopefully, we will plant this week and try again with the cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and lettuce.
Friday, April 17, 2009
- Family Urban Gardening: The Best Vegetables to Grow in D.C presented by the Historical Society of Washington (HSW), DC Urban Gardeners, and Washington Gardener Magazine. 4/18/2009 from 1:00 - 2:30pm (http://www.historydc.org/calendar/view.asp?ID=246)
- Container Gardening presented by Common Good City Farm, information available at: http://commongoodcityfarm.org/growinggardens
Look for other ways to celebrate Earth Day (April 22) here: http://www.earthday.net/
Whatever you are doing this weekend, enjoy some of this wonderful weather. I think this weekend is going to be a great start to the new season, and I'm looking forward to the next steps in our gardening adventure.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
As in the case of my cilantro, a seedling can be infected after it sprouts or even after it appears well-developed, resulting in the plant mysteriously thinning right where it touches the ground, until its stem at that point rots and it falls over.
eHow offers the following advice:
- Use quality, sterile potting soil to start your seedlings. Select a neutral pH potting soil, since acid soils are ideal for fungus growth.
- Before planting, make sure the seed-starting flat has been well watered.
- Sow seeds thinly. Crowded seedlings do not dry quickly after watering, resulting in humid, moist conditions - the perfect environment for fungus spores to germinate.
- Sprinkle a thin layer of sand or perlite on the surface of the soil. This step will keep the stems dry at the soil surface where damping-off occurs.
- Prop the top of the seed-starting tray up a few inches to allow for air circulation.
- Avoid overwatering seedlings. A light misting may be enough if the soil was saturated thoroughly prior to planting.
- Place an electric fan near the seed-starting tray. The added air circulation will prevent fungus from developing.
- Water around the base of the plants once they emerge from the soil to avoid wetting the foliage.
It may be the case that I overwatered the poor little cilantro. Or maybe it was a handful of the wrong soil. There is advice out there to microwave the soil before planting or mist plants with either chamomile clove, or stinging nettle tea as a preventative. But, the most helpful advice I found was: "If at first you don't succeed, don't be afraid to try again."
But then again, I do still see one little green sprout in the cilantro container...
Monday, April 13, 2009
Here is how it works: You create a free user account, then use the site like craigslist. You post a listing describing the excess produce you have and what you'd like in return, and then you wait for a response. Or, if you're looking for local produce, you simply enter your zipcode and see what your neighbors have available. You can also post specific produce you’re looking for in our Wanted section and see which of your neighbors answers your request.
In the "Who We Are" section, Veggie Trader says:
"Veggie Trader is our pilot effort to see if we can help more families eat well, make the most of the environment, and put more backyards to work for the benefit of neighbors, community and country. We think knowing where your food comes from and supporting your local economy are more important these days than ever. And saving money (or making a little extra) doesn't hurt either."
I can't agree more. Hopefully we will have some produce to trade this season. I am keeping my fingers crossed, as long as the rest of the plants don't go the way of the cilantro.
At least the rest of the seedlings are looking healthy (especially the cukes and tomatoes)!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Of course, issues regarding food and health are tremendously complicated. And we are not all getting salmonella. But, I am sure of this: One of the most important ways to make sure the food we eat is safe is to be informed about what we eat and feed our families/friends. Equipped with information regarding their food, consumers can decide for themselves about what to eat. Transparency is essential to a safer and more trustworthy food system.
One of the battles being fought on transparency has to do with food labeling and genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH or rbST). rbGH/rbST are administered to cows by injection in order to increase milk production. There is ongoing debate regarding the safety of this hormone -- for cows but also for us, the consumers of their milk. There are many resources to read more about the controversy, and I encourage you to learn more.
Take a look at this short movie for some more information about the issue: http://www.yourmilkondrugs.com/
I believe that since the jury is still out on its safety, consumers have a right to know whether or not the hormone is injected in the cows that produce the milk they drink.
This brings us to Kansas: Unless Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoes it before April 16th, a Kansas bill would restrict any national US dairy from properly labeling their milk products as free from genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH or rbST).
Please take action on this issue by clicking the link below to send an email to Governor Sebelius:
Protect our Choice for Drug-Free Milk—Without Bovine Growth Hormone (rbGH/rbST) - Email Governor Sebelius
Monday, April 6, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Our nascent green shoots are part of what the National Garden Association estimates will be a 20% increase this year in first-time household food gardens, thanks to the economy, the Michael Pollan-ation of our bookshelves, and what have you...
"My garden, as it lives in my mind, is perfect: undulating and bountiful and soft underfoot. Sometime in the next week, though, the first dumb green shoot of that artichoke will grope its way out of the dirt and start screwing everything up."
The author also blogged on his experience purchasing seeds. I can't fathom why the Times didn't ask US to do this blog first!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Together, we began pulling out some of the smaller seedlings. As Katherine put it, "First time gardeners often have a hard time understanding why they would kill the little plants they worked so hard to grow." I agree. It was a challenge, but we saved some of the cukes and cleaned up all the containers. We made another important decision: it is time to move the lettuce outside. This weekend, we hope to migrate the lettuce outside to the yard as well as the rosemary I have been keeping for about a year in my house.
Take a look at the cukes, now spaced out to one (or two) per container:
When we move the seedlings, there may be room for some additional seeds to start. So, I found a list from a Container Gardening Tips website (http://www.containergardeningtips.com/) of plants well suited for containers. I took some highlights from the list and will consider them carefully. My options are:
Sage, Dill, Thyme, Garlic, Mint, Oregano, Fennel (Sweet Florence), Sweet Marjoram, Ginger, Eggplant, Squash, Spinach, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Bean, Radish, Blueberry, Potato, and Corn
Some of the plants on the list surprised me. Apples were even on the list as suited for container gardening. While I think we are a ways from starting an apple tree, there are quite a few issues to ponder regarding the garden and our seedlings. After the lettuce, we have to determine who will be ready to go into the great outdoors.
One last note, we also noticed the chives becoming a bit more "chive-like":