Apologies for the lack of a summer post. But I still am trying to figure out the key to successful summer vegetable gardening on a super hot deck in downtown Albuquerque subject to high valley temperatures (I am maybe 3/4 of a mile from the river and valley bottom). This, in addition to *very* significant downtown heat soak from all of the cement around here. Next spring, I will begin to experiment with shade.
In the meantime, the temps have cooled, I have newly-planted beds and newly-designed greenhouse structures. Even better, my hands smell of dung - a secret guilty pleasure.
Here is the latest on my (lay) attempt at urban gardening:
- GREENHOUSE EFFECT (photo to left, on roof): Nothing could have protected container plants from the extreme, sub-zero early 2/11 temps, but my super flimsy structure wouldn't have sufficed in even much warmer temps. This winter, I am trying: plastic feed tank 1' deep, 1/2" flexible PVC to form a dome, 4 3/4" inch U brackets screwed into each side to hold the PVC, 6 mil plastic to cover and very cheap clamps from The Home Depot (which, for those of you into S&M, has really awesome tiny 39 cent clamps for god-knows what).
- BRAND NEW BED (right photo, balcony): Just got a new, larger bed today -- 5 feet wide! -- for the south/west-facing balcony, which will get more sun in winter (50 gal. container from Rio Bravo feed store). This is what the PVC dome looks like. Won't really need plastic for a bit longer. Tub required 7 cubic feet of soil -- I did 1/2 compost, 1/2 peat. Seeds planted!
onions, chard, some weather-risky peas and beans, and a squash plant and tomato plant left over from summer (latter on roof where it's much warner). Saved some virgin soil for spinach and whatever strikes me in the next few months.
- SWEET SPROUTS (right photo): Between the 3 beds, I have arugula, beets (if they grow, you can have them), a couple of different lettuce mixes,
- I'VE GOT WORMS! (left photo) Successfully putting to worms to work for the betterment of humanity -- all under the kitchen sink. No smells, very low maintenance, all in a plastic 16 pint container. I don't throw a lot of produce in there, but those worms are fairly talented at turning moistened Albuquerque Journal strips and some of my veggie waste into compost for the raised beds. Successfully underway for about 9 months now. Cost? Zero. Satisfaction at turning Albuquerque Journal to where it came from? Priceless.
- EXTRA FOR BIRD OWNERS: I have a cockatiel.Somebody on the internet suggested that when you clean out the bottom of the cage (which is a mixture of various seeds and bird poo), put that in a container, cover with about 1/4" of soil, and see what grows. Seeds and nitrogen! I've done it twice now, and the second time was awesome: beautiful sunflowers (as witnessed here) and millet for the bird from the mature grass. And the cats DIG the grass!
If you're gardening on a small scale and haven't been to the Urban Store on Silver Ave. in Nob Hill, definitely check it out! The clerk this afternoon was able to describe for micro-gardening almost every crop of seed they have, which is plenty!
I think that's it for now. Stay tuned for a winter harvest update! Meanwhile, I continue to experiment with hydro and indoor gardening. That's for another post! I am not an expert at any of this. If you have tips, please share! db