Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The berries are alright!

A healthy, homegrown breakfast featuring our very own blueberries and strawberries. Though the strawberry plant produces pretty sporadically, the blueberry bushes are prolific, especially now that we've protected them from our resident Mockingbirds with netting. Every morning I gather just enough berries to top my yogurt.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Natural aphid killers

We had a ton of aphids early in the season, on everything from the rose bushes to the eggplants. I sprayed them with soapy water, which really helps to reduce the infestation. But that wasn't enough to entirely eradicate the squishy green bugs. So, we added Safer 3 in 1 bug spray to the treatment. The insecticide  is pretty effective. but had a somewhat negative impact on the plants, which were early in their growth stage. I noticed shriveled and misshapen leaves, though the damage was not lasting. To my surprise, ladybugs dealt the final blow to the aphids. Turns out the black-spotted red beetles love to eat aphids. During the worst of the infestation on the eggplants, I saw several ladybugs hanging out on the broad leaves, and I haven't seen any aphids on them since! It is so nice to know that insects as charming and iconic as ladybugs are a gardener's friend. And of course, it's wonderful to see nature working it's own magic to get rid of annoying pests! If they're not hanging out in your garden, you can buy them online at gardeningzone.com.  
Safer bug spray caused the eggplant leaves to shrivel

Friday, July 13, 2012

Siamese tomato

First tomato of 2012 is too big to pick!

Separated at birth
Our first tomato of 2012, a Black from Tula heirloom variety that we picked on July 11, was so big that we could not get it off the vine without cutting it in half! And we still lost the branch that the tomato had engulfed as it grew! The fruit ripened well ahead of usual for our urban garden, thanks to the unusually warm spring. Last year, we picked our first ripe tomato, a Cherokee Purple, on July 28th.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Urban farming gets boost

New York City has become farm country. According to an article in the New York Times the boroughs are bursting with locally grown produce. Of course, we've been farming here in Manhattan since '05. We are so ahead of trend!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blueberry Mockingbird saga, part 2

Jersey berries taste great
A super warm spring led to early blueberry blossoms and we're now reaping the rewards: juicy, sweet blueberries. But we're not the only ones interested in harvesting the fruit. Our neighboring Mockingbirds have been eager to join the party. We were ready for them this year, unlike last year, with bird netting that we swathed around our bushes. It is definitely helping, though the birds are not that easily defeated. Just the other day, I saw a female clinging to the net and poking around with her little beak. She didn't get any berries as I was there to scare her away. However, on July 4th, I found out just how resourceful those birds can be. Our neighbors Amy and Sean stopped over for snacks, and even in the 90 degree heat we took them out to view our garden. As we opened the door to the terrace we heard all kinds of flapping and fluttering. A glance at the Jersey bush revealed a handsome male Mockingbird--inside the netting and desperately trying to get out! As we tried to help, the bird got more distraught. Thankfully, he eventually slipped out the bottom and flew off. I can't say for sure, but I bet he'll think twice before doing that again! And I'll be sure to better seal up the net after picking berries.
This mocking bird wants my berries!

Fresh picked