Monday, June 28, 2010

Urban Gardener Weekend Update: Yes, we have green tomatoes!

Our first weekend away, and a what a scorcher it was! While we burned up at the beach, I worried that our plants might be swooning at home. The best news? Our watering system worked perfectly and our veggie garden survived the heat. In fact, it thrived!

The peppers and eggplants have exploded with fruit, the cucumbers are all aflower and the tomatoes are coming in too. Sure, they're small and green, but they will become bright red and ripe for picking soon enough! (We might get our first cherries by mid-July.) Can't wait! Store bought just can't compare to our home-grown heirlooms.

This baby will become a chocolate stripe tomato

Our German green is growing big and strong!
(And so is our red bell pepper.)

These yellow flowers will turn into more tomatoes

Friday, June 25, 2010

NYC Gardener gets a new look

I've updated my blog with a new look. I figured a green background would make a good match for the subject matter and the new format would be easier to read and navigate. Hope you like what you see. Please let me know what you think. If you have suggestions, you can post them below. Of course, I'll continue to provide handy gardening tips and keep you updated on all my adventures in the veggie patch. Gotta go harvest the lettuce now...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Forget shoes! Shopping for gardening supplies is the new black!

Attention NYC gardeners: check out my guest blog at The Three Tomatoes and find out where we go to get the best products and lowest prices for gardening supplies.

"Over several years of gardening in New York City, my husband and I have discovered several local shops that offer a great selection of pots, soil, plants and other essentials at relatively good prices. Of course, New Yorkers will never have the breadth of choice that our suburban cohorts have, but we can find everything we need just fine...."
Read more at The Three Tomatoes

Monday, June 21, 2010

NYC Gardener Weekend Update: Are we there yet?

Tomatoes are the main event in our urban garden, but while we wait for them to fruit, which could take until late July/early August, there are lots of other veggies sprouting. I've been picking lettuce for a few weeks now. It's the most productive of all the crops so far.  The first peppers should be ready for picking in a couple of weeks. I spied clusters of them growing this weekend on each of our four bell pepper plants. The eggplants are also bursting with pretty purple flowers with one eggplant growing rapidly out of a former bud. It's amazing how they expand overnight.
This activity bodes well for a fruitful summer, which is especially rewarding for us since last year construction forced us to give up our garden. From what I've heard, last year was the one to miss. A cold rainy June gave way to a rainy July and a mass case of blight that ruined tomato crops across the North East.
This summer will surely be different. Steve K., a colleague at work, tells me his tomato plants are looking strong and healthy and are close to waist high. Last year, he said they barely grew at all. My aunt Clarice is having luck with her tomatoes this year too. And so are we. Our plants are getting tall and bushy and sprouting yellow flowers. Of course, I do get jealous when I hear from other gardeners, like my cousin who lives South of Philly, who already has green tomatoes growing on her vines. But I know we're right behind her, and I'm looking forward to a great summer in the garden with lots of good stuff to eat! 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Urban Gardener Weekend Update: Automation!

Sprinkler systems aren't just for the suburbs! This weekend we set up our own automated watering system, which gives us the ability to get away on weekends without having to hire a babysitter. We first automated in 2008. That's when we purchased everything from a timer to PVC tubing from The Drip Store . The system includes small stakes with adjustable heads that drip water into our pots. This way, we can set the timer to water in the early morning, for about five minutes, and adjust the flow individually for each plant. This year, we have more crops, so we expanded the system to encircle our entire terrace.
Our total investment over the two years has come to about $150, a small price to pay. With our sprinklers in place, there's no more early morning wake ups for watering before work. No rushing home in the evening on blistering hot days. The garden is on auto pilot.
Of course, we still have to weed and fertilize; we have to defend against bug infestations and plant diseases. But the day-to-day basics are taken care of.
We've already begun to enjoy the fruits of our labor. I harvested plenty of lettuce, cilantro, parsley and basil this weekend for a healthy salad. We also spotted our first bell pepper growing. The eggplants and tomatoes are beginning to flower and could be ripe for the picking in a few weeks or so. Can't wait!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Guest blogging at Three Tomatoes

Urban gardening is in season, and I'm spreading the word in 2010. Please check out my post at I will be guest blogging about the joys of urban gardening all summer, so keep checking in. If you're a Tomato visiting for the first time, let me know what you think about growing your own in the big city. Thanks for stopping by!

With the summer season heating up, now is the perfect time to start your urban garden... Even if your outdoor space seems too small, if you get good sunlight, pull up those petunias and plant some tomatoes. No outdoor space? No problem. Plant an indoor herb garden. Read more at

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Misadventures in the blueberry patch

There's been a death in the garden. Our green thumbs have been done in by the blueberry bushes. We don't know if its because we used too much fertilizer or too little. Or if it's because the weather was too hot and then too cool. The adventure started out well. As soon as we got the twiggy starter plants into their pots in early April, they began to thrive, adding shoots, growing green leaves and looking healthy.
The first sign of trouble came suddenly. On the first 90 degree day of the season, a few weeks ago, our Chippewa bush burned to a crisp without so much as a warning. That morning it was green. That evening, it had turned brown and crinkly.
We called Miller Nurseries where we had purchased the plants by mail order and they were quick to send another bush. We planted it a over week ago, but so far, it has yet to sprout even a leaf.
Meanwhile, the Polaris seemed to be doing well. Until last weekend, when it too began wilting in the heat. I'm afraid it has since gone the way of its Chippewa sibling. In an effort to save it, Mitch replaced the soil, which ws heavy with a fertilizer specific to blueberry plants (they like it acidic.) But it appears the move was to no avail. He also ordered a PH tester from Miller, which has yet to arrive. It may give us an indication of where we went wrong. Either way, this is a pretty disappointing development. We may have to wait until the fall to try again. If any experienced blueberry growers have suggestions, please post a comment!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Urban Gardener Weekend Update: Pepper Power

After a week in the blazing sun, our tomatoes are beginning to grow sturdy and strong. But it's the peppers that are really taking off right now, especially the yellow bell, which has doubled in size (at least!.) It's full of flowers already! The red, orange and green peppers haven't grown quite as tall, but they're also budding, as are the Japanese eggplants. Hot weather does wonders for the garden. While we wilt, the plants blossom.
It wasn't all weeding and watering. After a nasty wind storm on Sunday evening, the sky cleared and the temperature dropped to delightful just as our friends Charles and Michele Scicolone stopped by for an early evening visit. They live across the street and we often wave from our respective terrace gardens. Michele, who is working on a followup to her cookbook sensation, The Italian Slow Cooker, brought several samples of her latest creations, frozen for us to try at our leisure. Can't wait!
We then broke out a bottle of Mosaico, a dry white from Channing Daughters in Bridgehampton that expert sommelier Charles had never tasted! Now, that is no easy feat...