Sunday, June 21, 2009

Roof Top Gardening

The roof deck is in, and now, so are the plants. I could have done without the rain while I worked, but I guess it was better than doing it while it was 85 and the sun beating down. Now I present.... The roof garden....
I know it doesn't look like much right now. The whole thing is only 8'x12' and the plants are all still babies. By the end of the summer I am willing to bet that we won't be able to see the rest of the roof from this angle.
It was a bit of a challenge getting up there. The ladder is kind of steep, and the hatch is rather small. It's a good thing that the buckets had handles though, it made it much easier to carry them and hold them off to my side so I could squeeze through the hatch with them. You can see my thrifty habits in the mismatch of buckets used as pots. No sense in paying $15 for a pot that I can't carry up the ladder when I could ask friends and family to gather up any spare buckets they could find. The yellow ones were my contribution. Kitty litter was bought in buckets instead of boxes specifically for this purpose. Each of the buckets has several 1/4" holes drilled about 2" up from the bottom, on the sides. My mom and I decided this would be the best place for them so the water wasn't leaking out onto the deck boards, and they will be able to hold a little bit of water in that last 2" of soil. The soil is not quite as planned. I didn't find the coir I wanted, and mom had a bag of container mix that she ran out of containers to fill with. So between that bag, a bag of organic garden soil, a bale of peat moss, some vermiculite, some water saving crystals and some slow release fertilizer, we created our own container mix. Here's hoping they like it!

You can just barely see it, but here you can see my bird deterrent system. After having had one of the peppers completely mowed down by a bird the first night it was up there, we thought that bird mesh was an important item. I hope that the plants will have enough space to fill out in there little mesh cage. If they don't I will just have to spend another creative afternoon devising a way to protect them. I am also not sure how I am going to get in there to pick off old leaves and tie their next round of stake ties. I guess I'll get there when I get there. And speaking of stakes. I figured I might need a few for the tomatoes, because even determinant tomatoes can get a little heavy, especially when they put on fruit. I hadn't thought about the fact that it is MUCH windier up there and that even the peppers would need staked at such a young age. Thankfully mom and dad thought that far ahead, and brought me a stack of tomato stakes, made from scrap wood. I cut an old t-shirt into strips to use as ties. I have found it is a little gentler on the stalks than twine.

One last thing. The peppers and tomatoes at the top of the picture are the ones my mom grew. The ones at the bottom of the picture are the ones I grew. Looks like I have a lot of learning to do about starting seedlings! Mom thinks part of my problem is what many gardeners have, I coddle them too much. Instead of bringing them out in the bright window sill, waving my hand on their little leaves and giving them room to grow, I kept them in their little pots in the greenhouse, where even the best "grow light" can't beat sunshine. Next year the cats are just going to have to deal with the loss of their favorite window sills for a little longer.

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