Last summer, I moved from a home with a yard to a new development downtown, downsizing and simplifying my life, intentionally shrinking my mortgage and my carbon footprint.

I no longer have to do yard work, and my one block walk may be the world's shortest commute.

I also now garden up in the sky, taking advantage of my new decks and what appears to be their own microclimates for growing vegetables: somewhat protected from wind ... and there's plenty of sun.

Summer up there was hot and harsh to the tomato plants; they didn't do so well. Next summer, there will be more shade.

The experiment continues this fall, with two big tubs, a makeshift greenhouse, some tubing to take care of the drainage, and daily vigilance to the temperature. Will it be successful?

So far, so great! I've harvested mesclun twice now, my spinach and broccoli look encouraging, and I have some carrots and other things just sprouting.

Even better: it's getting into the later third of November, and I have seven healthy, volunteer tomato plants looking vital green and intent on further growth.

Any tips from other urban gardeners for this novice?

Next month's update: do the neighbors know I'm playing with goat poop, straw and foodwaste up there?

Views: 58

Comment by Don McIver on November 17, 2010 at 9:00am
Good luck.

The last cold destroyed what little was left of the tomato plants and the basil. Basil totally rocked this year. If only I could get the lettuce and the tomatoes to come up at the same time...not this year.
Comment by Don McIver on November 17, 2010 at 9:02am
Ode to the Tomato

with apologies to Pablo Neruda

I'll be the first to admit that I do not have your way with words,
but the first tomato from my first garden
exploded in my mouth
in a rush over the sides of my tongue
so that my teeth
felt bathed in red,
and the seeds wallowed
in their own juice
like a pig in a mudbath,
or a dog in a dead carcass.
If you've seen either one of those acts
you know that both are in ecstasy
and the seeds were in ecstasy too
and were rewarding me,
my taste buds,
the warm welcome of my throat.

this tomato was fine,
was my grandfather's hopes for me revealed
in popping,
of flavor that even moments later I still can't describe.

What kind of writer am I Pablo?
That something as simple as a tomato,
freshly picked and rinsed
could leave me speechless, wordless,
a writer that is trying to steer clear
of words like enchanting, heavenly, or divine.
Language says so little about tomatoes, Pablo
about what it means to grow one,
to watch the slow redding of green fruit
and guilt
I didn't share it with my love,
but relished every single drop,
every seed,
every light crushing of skin
in my mouth,
not hers or yours or the people who may read this,
cause this tomato became mine
in the moment I bit down.

It was molars that did the work Pablo.
This was no hunk of flesh that needed tearing from incisors.
No this was pressure,
the slow wait as the skin struggled to keep it all intact,
but then just burst.... a tomato.
like a tomato.
It burst like it was supposed to, Pablo.
Comment by Phil_0 on November 17, 2010 at 10:18am
Hey Don, provided you're living in the development illustrated in your banner, how many units are occupied at the moment? I've been very curious about how things at Elements are going.
Comment by Wade Patterson on November 17, 2010 at 10:59am
Looking good! Yes, Albuquerque is full of many microclimates. Just yesterday I crossed from the north side of the street to the south side which was shaded by buildings and I swear the temperature dropped a good 5 degrees!

Sounds like you have a sweet spot up there. With a little row cover material (which you can get form any garden supply store) you should be able to garden all year long. Between the row cover material (which you can drape on and take off as circumstances require) and the thermal mass from your building, you could probably avoid any hard freezes for your veggies. And many plants like kale, chard, lettuce, greens and cabbage are even sweeter when they grow in a colder climate/weather.

Looking forward to the goat manure post. I'm a huge proponent, not the least because you can use it "straight from the factory" without aging. Plus, goats are creepy cool - I love their alien eyes...
Comment by BurqueBinder on November 18, 2010 at 12:03am
@Phil_O's comment - I too am curious about the elements project. I'd really like to see them finish the remaining construction and fill in those vacant lot eyesores that they have yet to build on - it would do a lot for that corner of downtown. OTOH, I did notice a new construction trailer on the site that I don't think was there a couple months ago?
Comment by Don Brown on November 19, 2010 at 4:54am
Thanks for the comments. I believe the developer (same one for Elements as for Silver Gardens) is preparing to build the other half of Silver Gardens, then proceed to build a large residential complex just east of Elements. BTW, Elements is about half full. I'm glad to have neighbors!


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