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Vegetable Growing - 2009

Vegetable Growing - 2009
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  • Vegetable Growing - 2009

    Post #1 - February 4th, 2009, 9:28 am
    Post #1 - February 4th, 2009, 9:28 am Post #1 - February 4th, 2009, 9:28 am
    Last year, I posted more than a few times on the then new gardening forum about growing vegetables in my urban environment. Those who know me, know that I use the Earthbox sub irrigated planters and I'm not a "gardener" but more of a "grower" of vegetables.

    I won't be inundating the board with updates this year as I did last year but I wanted to let you know that I and the other greenroofgrowers are purchasing our seeds for the 2009 season. We will be concentrating almost strictly on heirlooms this year and hopefully starting our indoor plantings (thanks to BruceF) by March 1 with the anticipation that the cold-weather crops may be able to go in our planters in April (frost protected, of course) and the warm-weather crops by mid/end of May.

    This is just a friendly reminder about buying your seeds at the right time. I'll mostly be buying from the following:

    Victory Seeds http://www.victoryseeds.com/
    SeedSavers http://www.seedsavers.org/
  • Post #2 - February 4th, 2009, 9:33 am
    Post #2 - February 4th, 2009, 9:33 am Post #2 - February 4th, 2009, 9:33 am
    Tyrus-

    I would hardly say you inundated the board with updates. It was very interesting following yours (and others) gardening experiences. I do hope to read more this year.

    -mary
    -Mary
  • Post #3 - February 4th, 2009, 12:29 pm
    Post #3 - February 4th, 2009, 12:29 pm Post #3 - February 4th, 2009, 12:29 pm
    I'm with the GP, tyrus; I found all your posts (not to mention your gardening efforts) quite excellent and very interesting. Please, don't stop.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #4 - February 4th, 2009, 1:42 pm
    Post #4 - February 4th, 2009, 1:42 pm Post #4 - February 4th, 2009, 1:42 pm
    Thanks, I really do appreciate that but I think I may have overdone it last year. I'll still post some updates as I really believe the SIP medium solves many of the challenges we, as urban growers, face. The goal of my posts was to show that anyone can grow vegetables even without land. On a forum with a whole thread dedicated to food deserts, it seems logical to share some of this information and knowledge. Not to mention that growing your own food allows you to sample the highest quality, responsibly grown local produce available.

    I just think the frequency of last year's posts may have irked some folks, which was not my intention. I was fortunate enough to meet some great people through this forum and will continue to post from time to time. Thanks again.
  • Post #5 - February 4th, 2009, 1:51 pm
    Post #5 - February 4th, 2009, 1:51 pm Post #5 - February 4th, 2009, 1:51 pm
    tyrus wrote:I just think the frequency of last year's posts may have irked some folks, which was not my intention. I was fortunate enough to meet some great people through this forum and will continue to post from time to time. Thanks again.


    I'm not sure who you irked, but please allow me to join the chorus of support. Your posts last year were not only interesting, but also inspiring. Having moved here last March, last summer was my first without a garden in several years. I am hoping to incorporate some of your techniques to get back to growing my own (despite not having much space).

    If anything, please post more about your growing efforts.
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #6 - February 4th, 2009, 2:23 pm
    Post #6 - February 4th, 2009, 2:23 pm Post #6 - February 4th, 2009, 2:23 pm
    RAB wrote:I am hoping to incorporate some of your techniques to get back to growing my own (despite not having much space).

    If anything, please post more about your growing efforts.


    Last year was my first year trying to grow a "garden" of vegetables. I took some notes, asked a ton of questions, documented via pictures/forums/blogs, and collaborated with other urban growers. This year I feel better prepared. I (along with the other greenroofgrowers) will be sharing our experiences, resources, tips/tricks, and results via the world wide web, most of which I'll share here as well. The lessons I found most important from last year are:

    -when to plant what
    -where to buy your supplies
    -how to position your plants best for growing - stakes/trellises, etc.
    -what trouble signs to look for and when
    -when to rotate or switch your plants (specific for our Chicago weather)
    -info on interesting varieties that grow/produce well for our climate
    -and (sometimes most importantly) how to harvest/cook/preserve/eat or bounty

    I would like to make it as easy as possible for someone that isn't a "gardener" and doesn't have time to "farm" to grow excellent vegetables. I'll keep you posted but in the meantime - if you're growing from seed, you may want to buy them soon...
  • Post #7 - February 5th, 2009, 12:24 am
    Post #7 - February 5th, 2009, 12:24 am Post #7 - February 5th, 2009, 12:24 am
    You've motivated me to try my hand at growing some herbs and vegetables this summer. I can't afford much in the way of setup, so I'm thinking of mounting some wooden window boxes along the back yard fence (to keep my experiments away from rabbits and out from under the dog's feet).

    Please do post on your progress this year - I'm one of the curious.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #8 - February 5th, 2009, 8:38 am
    Post #8 - February 5th, 2009, 8:38 am Post #8 - February 5th, 2009, 8:38 am
    Dude, if I posted less just because I irked somebody, there'd be an awful lot less to read here! Heck, I irked Katie just the other day and we had a very nice lunch together right afterwards. :wink:

    Keep posting! You're dead right about the food desert issue: I've often wondered if we can encourage community gardens and rooftop/windown gardening in those areas. Also, partially from your example, I finally gave up on my community plot and am planning to garden in containers, myself - I got a garden system for Christmas that isn't an SIP but which I hope will address some of our varmint problems (we can't use the roof.)

    Thanks for the reminder to start seeds - I still have a lot left from last year, but I need to get them into some dirt in the near future.
  • Post #9 - February 11th, 2009, 9:09 am
    Post #9 - February 11th, 2009, 9:09 am Post #9 - February 11th, 2009, 9:09 am
    Just a quick update. My fellow GreenRoofGrowers and I ordered our seeds for the '09 season on Saturday. It seems early but this is really the time, especially if you know what you want to plant. Many hard to find varieties can sell out early in the season, plus, in a few weeks, it'll be about time to start those cool weather crops.

    If you figure that your seed plantings will be ready to go into the ground in about 4-6 weeks, you should consider your broccoli, cauliflower, kale, lettuces, etc. now. A couple of us may start our boxes (SIPs - sub irrigated planters) under some plastic for freeze protection. It's something another grower and I played with last fall and it really seems feasible. The planting date most likely will be between April 1 and April 15 for the cool weather crops, then May 15 or so for the warm weather crops (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.). We feel comfortable with these dates because of our zone (5b), the ability for the boxes to absorb heat, our plastic coverings, and some past results. Last year, I started everything on the same day - May 4th and although it seems a little early, I had no problems. Our average last frost date here is May 15th.

    Here's a list of what I plan to grow in my 12 boxes this year and may add one or two items still:

    -Arugula- Apollo
    -Beans- Empress and Red Swan (both stringless beans, one green and one red).
    -Broccoli- Green Goliath and Romanesco
    -Rainbow Swiss Chard
    -Cucumber- Diva
    -Full Heart Batavian Endive
    -Peppers- Santa Fe Grand, Napoleon Sweet, Sweet Chocolate
    -Tomatoes- San Marzano #2, Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry, Kellogg's Breakfast, Stupice
    -Zucchini Romanesco
    -Lettuce- Green Salad Bowl and Merveille de Quatre Saisons

    I may try a melon as well this year as well as some herbs again. My list is a little tame compared to the other growers that have more space/boxes.

    I ordered from Victory Seed, Seed Savers Exchange, Reimer Seeds, Seeds from Italy, and Fedco.
  • Post #10 - February 11th, 2009, 9:15 am
    Post #10 - February 11th, 2009, 9:15 am Post #10 - February 11th, 2009, 9:15 am
    This year, I'm doing only one planter box which will probably only take a couple tomato plants. Anybody have any suggestions for a varietal that will produce heavily and give good flavor as well?

    (I'm probably going to do two cherry-types, sunsugar and maybe a red pear or grape tomato)
  • Post #11 - February 11th, 2009, 9:33 am
    Post #11 - February 11th, 2009, 9:33 am Post #11 - February 11th, 2009, 9:33 am
    Mhays wrote:This year, I'm doing only one planter box which will probably only take a couple tomato plants. Anybody have any suggestions for a varietal that will produce heavily and give good flavor as well?

    (I'm probably going to do two cherry-types, sunsugar and maybe a red pear or grape tomato)


    I think it may depend on the planter. If you're using an Earthbox or other SIP, you can grow anything but if it's just a regular planter, I'd stick to either a patio variety or a determinate variety. A good "shopping" tomato site is http://www.tomatofest.com/. They break down the different varieties quite nicely. Another is http://www.reimerseeds.com/, where you choose what type you're looking for - determinate/patio/etc. The TomatoFest site requires a $15 minimum order which is why I didn't order from there.

    You may want to look at two of the tomatoes we ordered this year: Stupice and Matina. They both are "early" varieties at 55 days and produce smaller, clustered fruit that is supposed to have a better taste than the early girl hybrid. They can also be considered "patio" plants. I grew the Early Girls last year and although they produced, they really lacked in flavor.

    For a cherry type, the other growers grew Black Cherry last year and they are supposed to be great.
  • Post #12 - February 26th, 2009, 10:18 am
    Post #12 - February 26th, 2009, 10:18 am Post #12 - February 26th, 2009, 10:18 am
    OK...So we signed up for our 16X9 organic garden plot through the Naperville Park District yesterday. We plan on planing heirloom tomatoes, seedless cucumbers, poblano peppers, some herbs, possibly broccoli, and green peppers.

    Since I am a newbie, can these be started from seed outside when planing the garden? I do not have the space to start them indoors and would like to do it when I actually plant the garden. If anyone knows of some good resources, I would appreciate it. I plan on buying seeds from Johnny's.

    KevinT
  • Post #13 - February 26th, 2009, 11:54 am
    Post #13 - February 26th, 2009, 11:54 am Post #13 - February 26th, 2009, 11:54 am
    KevinT wrote:We plan on planing heirloom tomatoes, seedless cucumbers, poblano peppers, some herbs, possibly broccoli, and green peppers....can these be started from seed outside when planing the garden?

    You can certainly start the tomatoes and peppers outside once the soil is warm enough, but you're unlikely to finish with much fruit. If you're dead set on doing it this way versus growing a few seedlings under a full-spectrum compact flourescent bulb (better light than an incandescent), get "Early" varieties, look for under 60 days to maturity. Smaller tomatoes and peppers are more likely to be usable than poblanos and beefsteaks.

    The herbs and broccoli shouldn't be a problem from seed.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #14 - February 26th, 2009, 2:14 pm
    Post #14 - February 26th, 2009, 2:14 pm Post #14 - February 26th, 2009, 2:14 pm
    Hello Tyrus, thanks for the inspiration. I had an amazon.com gift certificate burning a hole in my inbox, so I now have one Earthbox on the way. I am going Earthbox out of concerns for lead in the soil. Off to the seed catalog!!! I look forward to your posts-- I will have to look up last year's "deluge" for further inspiration.

    Cheers, Jen
  • Post #15 - February 26th, 2009, 8:15 pm
    Post #15 - February 26th, 2009, 8:15 pm Post #15 - February 26th, 2009, 8:15 pm
    JenM wrote:Hello Tyrus, thanks for the inspiration. I had an amazon.com gift certificate burning a hole in my inbox, so I now have one Earthbox on the way. I am going Earthbox out of concerns for lead in the soil. Off to the seed catalog!!! I look forward to your posts-- I will have to look up last year's "deluge" for further inspiration.

    Cheers, Jen


    Sounds good. City soil concerns are one of the many reasons to consider using a sub irrigated planter like the Earthbox. I may have a ton of useful info for you - if you have questions, feel free to PM me. Off the top of my head, if you're planting in the one box, you may want to have seedling transplants and maybe forgo the direct seed, unless it's a lettuce, herb, or other green like spinach/kale/chard.

    To get the most out of it this year, you can try lettuces in April - they'll run their course in 6-8 weeks typically and then you can switch to tomatoes, peppers, or another warm weather plant. Then, when they go down in Sept, replant some lettuce and spinach. If you can start your seeds inside and transplant, you may have a leg up and a better "first year." Keep us posted and best of luck.
  • Post #16 - March 6th, 2009, 1:49 pm
    Post #16 - March 6th, 2009, 1:49 pm Post #16 - March 6th, 2009, 1:49 pm
    Your posts have always been fun to read Tyrus. I know what you mean about thinking you post too much, sometimes when I've posted images of my garden, I've felt like it was a little self-indulgent. I do it anyway because I know how much enjoyment I get in reading about everyone else's garden and someone must get the same thing out of mine too.

    That said, I've ordered my seeds as well and am planning for an early crop of peas, broccoli and a bunch of greens. I don't really have a good spot to start my seeds indoors unfortunately (tough to keep them away from cats!), so I'm going to give it a shot, but I'm planning on building some type of coldframe for the top of my SIPS to get my seedlings out early. We'll see how it goes!

    Good luck to everyone this year!
  • Post #17 - March 6th, 2009, 3:46 pm
    Post #17 - March 6th, 2009, 3:46 pm Post #17 - March 6th, 2009, 3:46 pm
    tyrus wrote:To get the most out of it this year, you can try lettuces in April - they'll run their course in 6-8 weeks typically and then you can switch to tomatoes, peppers, or another warm weather plant. Then, when they go down in Sept, replant some lettuce and spinach. If you can start your seeds inside and transplant, you may have a leg up and a better "first year." Keep us posted and best of luck.


    Tyrus, thank you for the information. Do you use the cover with lettuces? I will definitely direct seed lettuce but start seeds for transplants-- I traditionally start seeds around St. Paddy's Day, but next weekend looks rainy-- like the 4-year-old will need entertainment. Do you usually limit yourself to two tomato plants per earthbox like they recommend?

    Also, the earthbox was $54 at Amazon-- but free shipping and no Crook County tax. Any ideas for cheaper sources? Dang, that is going to be one expensive first crop!

    Can't wait for spring!!

    Cheers, Jen
  • Post #18 - March 9th, 2009, 10:06 am
    Post #18 - March 9th, 2009, 10:06 am Post #18 - March 9th, 2009, 10:06 am
    JenM wrote:Tyrus, thank you for the information. Do you use the cover with lettuces? I will definitely direct seed lettuce but start seeds for transplants-- I traditionally start seeds around St. Paddy's Day, but next weekend looks rainy-- like the 4-year-old will need entertainment. Do you usually limit yourself to two tomato plants per earthbox like they recommend?

    Also, the earthbox was $54 at Amazon-- but free shipping and no Crook County tax. Any ideas for cheaper sources? Dang, that is going to be one expensive first crop!

    Can't wait for spring!!

    Cheers, Jen


    With the EB, you should always use the covers due to the fact that you'll have a fertilizer strip in the middle of the box that needs to be covered at all times (you don't want rain/water washing the fertilizer into the potting mix). To direct seed your lettuces/greens/etc., you can cut small strips into the cover and plant directly into the potting mix. Please remember to add the potting mix per directions as well (it should look like a loaf of bread in the box, mounding a bit higher in the middle for water/rain run off).

    As far as tomatoes, you should follow the EB recommendations and only plant two tomatoes in the box. After the lettuce, you'll need to remove the cover and remove and discard the fertilizer strip. Then add a fertilizer strip on the opposite side of the tomato plants (as instructed on the EB website). You'll want to use a new cover as well but save your old one if possible (for fall planting). You'll also want to think about support for your growing tomatoes because they will grow (some of mine were over 7 ft last year).

    You can buy the EB direct from their site for $29.95 per box (without the potting mix and fertilizer and s/h). Last year I used Miracle Grow Organic potting mix (you have to buy potting MIX, not soil) and used Fox Farms Pride, Super Premium with a 9-6-6 ratio fertilizer (found at Gethsemane).

    If you like tomatoes, you may be able to get $50 worth this year (not to mention the lettuces) but you should consider that the EBs last a few years (I've heard 8+ years) and the potting mix can be reused so the costs will be minimal moving forward. Good luck and PM me if you have any more questions...
  • Post #19 - March 9th, 2009, 2:54 pm
    Post #19 - March 9th, 2009, 2:54 pm Post #19 - March 9th, 2009, 2:54 pm
    I just set up my in-house greenhouse for starting seedlings, in my studying-abroad son's room:
    1) Old kitchen table
    2) Old flats and seedling pots from previous years' gardens
    3) 23W CFL "soft white" flood bulb (2700K color temp is supposed to be best for plants)
    4) Potting Soil
    5) Utility "clamp" lamp
    6) Pipe clamp
    7) Popsicle sticks
    8) Seeds
    9) Water
    10) Starter fertilizer

    Put soil in pots, pots in flats, seeds in soil, fertilizer in water, water in soil.
    Put bulb in lamp, lamp on pipe, pipe clamp on table
    Label popsicle sticks, and I'm good to go.

    On that note.... I have lot of leftover seeds:
    Pink Brandywine Tomato
    San Marzano Tomato
    A yellow variety tomato
    Tomatillo
    Red bell peppers
    Thyme
    Burpee "picklebush" cucumber
    (I used all the basil seeds, I figure I'll garnish with the thinned sprouts)

    Anyone who wants to stop by NE Mount Prospect and pick up a few half-gone seed packets, you're welcome to them. If you have some Jalapeno seeds to drop off, even better (forgot to get some.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #20 - March 9th, 2009, 3:11 pm
    Post #20 - March 9th, 2009, 3:11 pm Post #20 - March 9th, 2009, 3:11 pm
    I have a broad range of seeds left over from last year; I'll only be using a tenth of what I used before. They're free for the asking - I've got an heirloom tomato mix, a cherry tomato mix, mixed colored peppers, various peas and beans, and others. Just send me a PM if you want them, I can be more specific if you need.
  • Post #21 - March 9th, 2009, 7:56 pm
    Post #21 - March 9th, 2009, 7:56 pm Post #21 - March 9th, 2009, 7:56 pm
    Thanks Tyrus! My four-year-old and I filled the EB yesterday and direct-seeded some lettuces. I agree-- given the price of tomatoes, we might just clear $50 worth! I have heard that there are good EB bargains to be had at the end of the season, so it this year is a success, then more EB's for me!

    Cheers, Jen
  • Post #22 - March 9th, 2009, 10:16 pm
    Post #22 - March 9th, 2009, 10:16 pm Post #22 - March 9th, 2009, 10:16 pm
    Congrats to all of you who have begun your growing from seeds.

    Does anyone have Chicago-area or online sources for seedlings? When should seedlings be planted in the earthboxes and when can they go outdoors?
  • Post #23 - March 10th, 2009, 5:47 am
    Post #23 - March 10th, 2009, 5:47 am Post #23 - March 10th, 2009, 5:47 am
    I've ordered seedlings from Burpee and http://www.thechilewoman.com -- she's got an amazing variety of chiles and tomatoes, and was the only place I could find online with tomatillo seedlings.
    Neither are cheap, and shipping kills you. They are set up so that they won't ship to you until it's appropriate in your region.

    Locally, I like Pesche's in Des Plaines -- around Mother's Day, you can't move in the place.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #24 - March 10th, 2009, 9:44 am
    Post #24 - March 10th, 2009, 9:44 am Post #24 - March 10th, 2009, 9:44 am
    jimwdavis wrote:Congrats to all of you who have begun your growing from seeds.

    Does anyone have Chicago-area or online sources for seedlings? When should seedlings be planted in the earthboxes and when can they go outdoors?


    In the city, Gethsemane is a good resource for seedlings. I believe some of their seedlings come from Seed Saver Exchange seeds (I may be wrong on that though). They can be a little expensive but they are consistent. Planting outside in the EB is dependent upon what you're planting. I'm starting my lettuce/broccoli/greens in early to mid April and then the warm weather plants (tomatoes, peppers, zucchini/squash, cucs, etc.) in mid-May. Just watch for freezing temps and cover with plastic or a sheet when necessary.
  • Post #25 - March 10th, 2009, 9:53 am
    Post #25 - March 10th, 2009, 9:53 am Post #25 - March 10th, 2009, 9:53 am
    There's a good thread here:
    viewtopic.php?f=35&t=18843
  • Post #26 - March 10th, 2009, 7:32 pm
    Post #26 - March 10th, 2009, 7:32 pm Post #26 - March 10th, 2009, 7:32 pm
    jimwdavis wrote:Congrats to all of you who have begun your growing from seeds.

    Does anyone have Chicago-area or online sources for seedlings? When should seedlings be planted in the earthboxes and when can they go outdoors?


    The Kilbourn Organic Greenhouse plant sale is May 16th and 17th, 2009. Get there early and get in line-- they have a great selection of herbs and plants.

    http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/inde ... D3A856.cfm

    Cheers, Jen
  • Post #27 - March 11th, 2009, 10:10 pm
    Post #27 - March 11th, 2009, 10:10 pm Post #27 - March 11th, 2009, 10:10 pm
    What is the easiest way to light my indoor greenhouse? i am using an extra room in our house and the plants will be next to a window- will that be enough light or do i need to buy something?
  • Post #28 - March 12th, 2009, 5:33 am
    Post #28 - March 12th, 2009, 5:33 am Post #28 - March 12th, 2009, 5:33 am
    susan13 wrote:What is the easiest way to light my indoor greenhouse? i am using an extra room in our house and the plants will be next to a window- will that be enough light or do i need to buy something?


    you need flourescent bulbs right on top of the seedlings.
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #29 - March 12th, 2009, 6:17 am
    Post #29 - March 12th, 2009, 6:17 am Post #29 - March 12th, 2009, 6:17 am
    tyrus wrote:I just think the frequency of last year's posts may have irked some folks, which was not my intention.

    Tyrus,

    One of the things I've learned in 4+ years of moderating LTHForum is people get upset/irked about the oddest things, I am amazed on a regular basis.

    Please do not let one cranky person dissuade you from posting and, if they are bugging you via PM, please let one of the moderators know.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #30 - March 12th, 2009, 11:02 pm
    Post #30 - March 12th, 2009, 11:02 pm Post #30 - March 12th, 2009, 11:02 pm
    tyrus wrote:Last year, I started everything on the same day - May 4th and although it seems a little early, I had no problems. Our average last frost date here is May 15th.

    A friend's husband grew up in Indiana on a farm with a peach orchard. Peaches bloom early for our region, one is lucky to achieve a reliable crop from year to year because frost often damages the blossoms. The peach orchard was situated on the highest elevation on their farm otherwise known as a hill. This location kept the temperatures more moderate since hot air rises and defying regional convention with a reliable peach crop. Of course, all bets are off if there is a strong chill. Two years ago, the entire peach crop in southern Illinois was wiped out due to a late season frost.

    Your earthboxes on the roof of your building may have similar characteristics as the peach orchard's higher elevation. You planted early last year with success. which may be luck or a favorable micro-climate.

    I look forward to following your posts this season.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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