Monday, August 31, 2009

Ripening Bounty

Over 7 1/2 pounds of produce will be dropped off at the food bank today from this morning's harvest. The plants have gone crazy and are producing quite the abundance that is finally starting to ripen in larger quantity. I went down to the planters at the Tower a little before Randy was to meet me for harvesting and gave the tomatoes a good pruning and tying back. They really needed it! By getting them thinned out it will give more light to the things around them as well as help the tomatoes left on the plants to ripen up more quickly. Not that the eggplant seemed to mind having tomatoes drooping over the top of it. That plant is loaded with 3-4 inch eggplants even after we harvested the 5-6 inch ones. Amazing.

The tower greens are doing very well - it won't be long before we are harvesting a good amount of mesclun mix from the seeds that were planted. Today four fall/winter vegi starts were added to the planter to extend the season even further, mostly brassicas. I need to check with Carl to see which ones.

Totals for Tower harvest today:

Cherry Tomatoes - 20.5 oz
Sweet Peppers - 13.8 oz
Eggplant - 9.3 oz
Cucumbers - 2.1 oz
Basil - 6.2 oz

The Court planters are not spilling over quite as much as the ones on the Tower but they are still producing a good amount. The sweet peppers in particular are coming out very heavy. The herbs up here are doing great as well and today we got a good harvest from them. The seeds that were planted on the court seemed to have come up thinner than down on the Tower but what did come up looks very healthy. Four fall/winter starts were added to their ranks as well.

Total Court harvest for today:

Cherry Tomatoes - 15.2 oz
Basil - 4 oz
Sweet Peppers - 14.5 oz
Slicing Tomatoes - 11.3 oz
Cucumbers - 3.1 oz
Eggplant - 8.1 oz
Marjoram - 1.3 oz
Sage - 1 oz
Parsley - 1.2 oz

Add to those number 9.7 oz of Cherry Tomatoes from both the Tower and the Court that Randy picked this weekend and we have a great deal of ripening bounty!

We have had some losses as well. There were many split cherry tomatoes, probably from the bit of rain we had recently. One sweet pepper had a soft rotting spot on the side and one of the hot peppers had been discovered by some sort of pest (a small hole could be seen in the side of the pepper) and caused the pepper to rot out. Also, it seems that a couple of the hot peppers have gone missing at some point. They look a lot like sweet peppers, so someone might have had quite the "karmic" surprise. Still, I have been very pleased with how little vandalism and theft that there has been. It's nice to know that people can respect what we're doing with this project.

Ecologically speaking the planters have attracted a couple types of spiders as natural pest control as well as ladybugs. Not bad for a place right in the midst of the city. And the soil seemed to have come with some mushroom spores as well as there have been a few little ones popping up here and there - our own little ecosystem working itself out here on the rooftops at Centennial.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I skipped blogging during a rush week but the plants seem not to have noticed.

Friday Carl from the City of Seattle dropped off about eight starts of chard and another plant that does well in our winters; I think these were from his P-Patch so thanks for the donation! I meant to put them in the ground Saturday morning but an unrelated crisis erupted ( of the downsides of running a project on volunteers...); when I called Maurey about it she suggested we plant Monday morning when we're harvesting anyway.

When I watered this morning the starts looked o.k. but I gave them a good drink to be sure.

There were a lot of cherry tomatos ready to go, and a few that had dropped. I picked about a pound & set aside for the Monday run. You can see that the lettuce in the Tower tub is coming up nicely; we'll have baby greens soon and very likely some full-sized heads before winter. At that point the chard will want a lot of the space anyway.

The tomato-etc tub at the tower is basically rioting. There's a new cuke on the left and some yellow cukes on the right, with eggplants and peppers peeking out. We should have a good harvest Monday!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Watering and Pondering, Saturday August 22, 2009

One of the orange cherry tomatos dropped of its own accord, so I must conclude that they ripen orange, rather than just being slow. A couple more tomators came of easily when I wiggled them.

It's not practical to run today's 4 cherry tomatos to the Cherry Street foodbank, so what I'll do is accumulate then through Monday. Any that threaten to go bad I'll use up and replace with one of my privately grown organic cherry tomatos. This way, the numbers all come out right, and nothing it wasted. In a larger enterprise, we'd need a better solution.

I noticed both at the Court and the Tower that some sort of spider had spun a nice web. This suggests to me that there is some biological activity going on, on a scale just a little too small for me to see. There must be tiny bugs working on the plants to feed the spiders that are big enough for me to view. While I'm not especially fond of spiders, as long as they do their thing outside of my immediate living area I'm happy to leave them alone and I'm glad to see them as an indicator that this little corner of the world is livelier than it was just a few short months ago.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Watering, Thursday, Aug 20, 2009

Not much news today. The soil is between moist & dry so I gave it all some water.

The peppers at the Court are getting really red; the question is, when are they ready to pick?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Small Harvest, Tuesday August 18, 2009

Today, while watering, I harvested.

The quantity was small but some of the tomatoes needed to go now! Sadly about 30% had split in the heat, as had one eggplant, and had to be discarded. However, now that I know for sure where Cherry Street is, I think I can harvest more frequently swing by on the way out on days that I drive.

From the Court:
  • Eggplant 13 oz
  • Tomatoes (cherry) 6 oz
  • Greens 4 oz
From the Tower:
  • Eggplant 6 oz
  • Tomatoes (1 big, 1 cherry) 6 oz
  • Greens (mostly the parsley from the lettuce tub) 5 oz
  • Cucumber (1) 7 oz

When you break down things this way, it doesn't look like much. However it totals over 2 pounds of food, fresh & organic, at very little cost. The greens bulk up a lot but don't weigh much.
(Note: Cherry Street is two-way! Look both ways before crossing --- I almost decorated the front of a van!)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Watering, Sunday August 16, 2009

The eggplants at the Tower are noticably bigger (see photo); the cucumber has a slight gash, probably an accident due to human interaction. It's really remarkable that there haven't been any other negative interactions, other than one (1) cigarette butt and one (1) beer can pull; when you consider the heavy party use of these areas, it's clear that the community is showing great respect and liking for the plants.

The re-seeded salad troughs are showing tiny seedlings now; the Tower seedlings are a little bigger than those at the Court. I noticed some sunflower seed shells in the Tower salad trough. Actually there were a lot of these shells on the ground as well as the trough, appearing to be harmless and accidental additions to the surface of the soil, not anything on purpose or significant.

I thought it was worth noting any interactions with the community, but there really hasn't been that much to report except people always seem positive when I bring it up in conversation.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Squash Sighting, Thursday August 13, 2009

Watering today, I sighted the first squash at the Tower.

Considering the size, I don't know why I didn't see it before. I hope that this indicates the last few days have been prime growing weather, and not that I'm going blind.

(An alternative explanation is that, at last night's Sustainable Belltown meeting included informal tours of the plantings at the Tower; it's possible the squash was teased out for better growing.)


UPDATE: my wife gently pointed out that it's a cucumber, not a squash.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lightly Raining, Wednesday August 12, 2009

It was lightly raining yesterday morning, and today morning as well. The soil seems moist so I didn't water. Probably I should water tomorrow, regardless.

The peppers at the Court are starting to color: two of them orange, and one purple (!).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Seeding, Sunday August 9, 2009

Today I re-seeded the tubs from which the greens had been harvested. The soil was dry, so I gave it a good soak before seeding, and a little more after.

The tub at the tower still had one central herb in it
(see photo; I was hoping we could record the seed packets' fronts in this photo but apparently not). The tub at the Court was empty. I planted a room of redleaf lettuce down the middle of the long axis, and two rows of a salad mix, one on either side. The seeds were 2 packs at $1.69 each, or about $3.50 total with sales tax. The only tool necessary (other than the water) was a simple slotted spoon.

The tomato tubs were not-quite-dry, not-quite-moist so I watered them.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Watering Friday, August 7, 2009

Today's soil was not really dry, but not really moist either, so I soaked it all down. Perhaps my moisture-measuring finger needs calibration.

Today's picture is of an overflow pot at the Court. When we planted herbs, there were three leftover; we didn't want to overcrowd the troughs. Rather than waste them, we put them into an adjacent pot that was unused except for a sunflower (and some "guerilla gardening" lettuce I'd planted earlier that was ready for harvesting anyway.)

I hope that the result shows that we can have a variety of esthetic effects while growing food. The herbs are very attactive and the sunflower adds color and absorbs light, while not taking up much space. In theory, we could harvest the sunflower seeds but I suspect the chicadees may get there first! The sunflower was grown from seed, so it is very inexpensive.

While this pot was not an intended part of the experiment, I think it represents an accidental opportunity to learn and to present options for different spaces and esthetic needs.

(It looks like those herbs are close to ready to harvest.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The soil seems moist today, so I'll skip watering.

Notice how comfortably the containers fit into the social use of the space. They seem to fit in with the tables & chairs, which see plenty of use during sunny weather mealtimes and parties. The plants show no signs of being disturbed, although it might be interesting to get some pix of people interacting with the planters naturally.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Watering Sunday, August 2, 2009

The soil's not as dry as last time, but not really moist. A few of the tomatos are beginning to look tempting! They're obviously not going to ripen all at the same time, so how should we handle getting the harvest to the food bank? I suppose that working out issues like this may be one of the purposes of the experiment!

The squash leaves look beige and sad. Here's the Court:
Here's the Tower:
Who to talk to about this?
UPDATE: the basil at the Court was bolting in the heat, so we pinched off the flowers.