Posts Tagged ‘Urban Gardening’

Wordless Wednesday: Arugula Growing in Eavestrough.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

After seeing a tutorial on growing greens in “gutters” over on apartment therapy we had to try it.  Here is our arugula growing in some eavestrough along the side of our porch.  Tastes great and it’s a great use of previously unused space, which just makes more room for carrots in the garden. We turned a bunch of it into Shana’s arugula pesto. Delicious!

How to: Grow Delicious Potatoes in Containers

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Potatoes are absolutely one of the easiest things to grow and you can plant them in just about anything.  

For years we grew them in a series of old garbage cans that we had drilled holes in and even in a big flower pot in our old kitchen.

Then we moved on to growing a clawfoot bathtub full of potatoes which I somehow don’t have a photo of.  Hey look what I found! Photos from last year of me tending to the potatoes with a baby on my back!

This year its full of beans and greens.

This year I’m reusing some grow bags that were given to us and I have them growing in a completely neglected space.  It’s the retaining wall of our front yard and neighbours parking space.  There are some hanging and some just tucked behind my bicycle.

So to plant potatoes first you’ll need some seed potatoes.  You can either buy these specially or use ones from th
e grocery store that have grown eyes.  Its best to go organic as some grocery store potatoes have been treated so they wont grow eyes, but really most will work especially if you gently wash them. Be careful not to scrub off those eyes, that’s where the shoots are going to grow. 

This year we’re planting a combination of organic heirloom seed potatoes including Russian Blues and Purples as well as Rose Finn Apple fingerlings and a bag of organic red potatoes that sprouted on us by accident.

You can either plant the whole potato or cut them up.  It’s a matter of personal preference.  I cut mine in half, making sure there is at least one eye per piece and then leave them in a dark spot for the cut to heal over night. 

The next day, you can start planting.  I like about 4 inches of soil under them and about 4 inches of soli above them.  You do not need to be tidy.  Throw them in willy nilly.

Potatoes need about 6 hours of sun a day. I have normally tucked them away somewhere sort of cool and find they fill a less than perfect corner of the garden. These ones are in a planter in front of the composter.

As they grow, you will add more soil, maybe every two weeks I add a shovel full or so.

After anywhere from 2-4 months the leaves will turn brown and die.  That’s how you know its time to harvest! Use your hands if possible as a trowel can really wreck the tender new potatoes. I have just dumped the entire pot over on the patio in the past.  Quick and dirty.

Planting, growing and harvesting potatoes are all excellent activities for kids.  You really can’t mess it up and digging for them at the end of the season is like a little treasury hunt. Also I haven’t met a kid that wont eat a potato so its an excellent activity to show where our food comes from.

Now a little give away.  Use the comments to tell us your favourite food to grow in a container for a chance to win a copy of Lara Lucretia Mrosovsky’s An Illustrated Guide to Growing Food on your Balcony along with three packs of carrot, dill and leek seeds from Cubit’s.  This combo perfectly demonstrates companion planting with potatoes in that if they taste good together, they probably grow well together (ie potato leek pizza).

step by step recap
  1. Find a large container with good drainage.
  2. Prepare your seed potatoes.
  3. Plant your potatoes in well draining soil.
  4. Ongoing water and basic care.
  5. Add more soil.
  6. Harvest!
  7. Eat!
So, what’s your favourite food to grow in a container? Let us know in the comments along with your email or twitter handle so we can contact you.

Winner will be chosen by random on June 30th, 2011.

Wordless Wednesday: Mason Bees Make an Appearance

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

We have two new bee houses in the garden this year.  Neither seem to be inhabited yet but today we had our first sighting of one of these important solitary pollinators this afternoon.  I think its an orchard mason bee but I’m not 100% sure.  Hope to be seeing many more this season though.

Beans Glorious Beans & A Hip Girl Giveaway

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
This year is the year of the bean in our garden.  Our soil composition and amount of sun light limits the amount of tomatoes we can grow so I’ve planted them in other gardens and am replacing two beds of tomatoes with beans.
Since we’re growing so many beans we’re also building quite a few trelisises for them.  A few months back I was sent a copy of Kate Payne’s The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking and have used the adorable instructions for guidance and inspiration while building my bean climbing structures. 

I’ll be giving away a copy of this fun, well illustrated book at the end of this post.

Here’s a photographic list of our beans so far.  Don’t worry, I know this is completely insane.

Stunning Poltschka Pole beans from the Populuxe seed bank.
Petaluma Goldrush from the Natural Gardening Company.  A gorgeous bush bean for drying that was originally brought to America from Peru in 1840.  These are the only bean I actually purchased, how could I resist?
Sunset Runner Beans from a trade with Julianna who I met years ago over on  These pole beans are jaw dropingly beautiful, light and dark purple markings on giant beans and the flowers will be salmon coloured setting it apart from the similar Scarlet runner bean.
Some Gold Rush snap beans I found in my seed stash.  Who knows where these came from. They’re ancient too so I’m thinking they’ll be a fairly low germination rate.
Mr Tung’s from Kelly at the Populuxe seed bank.  These pole beans are a heirloom from originally from China with 100 years of history in British Columbia Canada. Almost extinct, some beans were discovered in an old shed on the deserted family farm & germinated after 50 years! If you are interested in growing these please contact Kelly to be a grower fo
r her seed bank.
Monk Peas.  Not actually a bean I know.  An excellent soup pea from Fox Fire Farm and the Sister’s of Providence Seed Sanctuary. 
 Rebecca found these Purple Peacocks in Almerida’s shack. Described as a beautiful pole bean with dark purple pods, twinning stems, light purple flowers, dark leaves and white beans I’m very excited for them and will be planting them in the backyard bathtub this evening.
Dragon Langerie were a gift from Almerinda, also from Fox Fire Farm and the Sister’s of Providence Seed Sanctuary.  These bush snap beans have purple striped pods, are Dutch in origin, have been documented since 1880, and are also known as Dragon Tongue beans.  They can be eaten right away or used for baked beans.
Slenderette Beans are a bush bean that make perfect 5′ green long french snap beans in a relatively short season (45-55 days).
Vermont Cranberry.  I think I am most excited for these New England Heirloom beans.  A bush bean that dates back to 1797 know for its reliability and hardiness.
Musica are a from the seedbank and produce 9 inch pods on 9 foot plants or something crazy like that. I am not planting these in my yard but have tucked some into my friend Sarah’s garden.  Surprise!
Mystery bean.  hmmmm, this is why you need to label things right away.
Black turtle make a dwarf bush plant so I’m trying these in a container.  These pre 1832 beans are well suited to Northern regions.
Mayflower beans from Julianna.  A prolific pole bean perfect from soup that was brought to North America on the Mayflower.
Cannellino beans are the quintessential milestone soup bean,  another bush bean from Julianna that is growing in Sarah’s yard.
Here’s a happy Sunset runner seedling with true leaves.
The Chickpeas from Gayla are really growing now.

I’ve built numerous trellises, teepees and ladders for all these beans but they’re really hard to photograph. Mine are also not as cute as Kate’s book would like them to be.
My rustic-ness vs the books tidiness aside, this is a nice addition to my DIY library. With great green instructions on basic preserving, gardening and home repairs I will be sharing it with friends and I’d like to start by sharing a copy with one of my readers.

To win your own copy of the book The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking
just leave a comment telling us what you’re most excited to grow this year and a email or twitter address so I can contact you.  Rebecca will choose a winner at random one week from today on Wednesday June 8th and Harper Collins will send you a copy.

project 365: week twenty: May 14th, 2011 – May 20th, 2011

Saturday, May 21st, 2011
May 14th, 2011 Planted the potatoes! 
May 15th, 2011 Skype family portrait while Ryan was in Boston.
May 16, 2011 A view I might miss some day.
May 17th, 2011 Ladies’ babies are growing up!
May 18th, 2011 Black beans on their way into the garden.
May 19th, 2011 Fuzzy Succulents and a macro lens, delicious!
May 20th, 2011 A gorgeous morning, ready to start planting.