Archive for February, 2010
Green Roofs for Auckland

Green Roofs for Auckland

Posted 27 February 2010 | By | Categories: Green Roofs, Growing Food, Health, Make Things, Plants | 1 Comment

Emily Harris Dream to Reality Entry from Emily Harris on Vimeo.

Emily Harris has a wonderful vision of establishing rooftop gardens for Auckland city-dwellers, so that they can grow their own fresh, healthy food, right on the roof of their apartment buildings.

I’d love to see it become a reality. Let’s make it happen in Wellington too! If you like Emily’s plan and want to help make it a reality, vote for it with a thumbs up at HappyZine’s Dream to Reality competition.

Vegetable Sheep

Posted 20 February 2010 | By | Categories: Gardening, Plants, Vegetables | Comments Off on Vegetable Sheep

Captivated by New Zealand’s vegetable sheep via Anne Galloway (Raoulia and Haastia species, not to be confused with sheep made from vegetables). You can listen to the story of one good sheep captured in Canterbury and sent to the Auckland Museum. If you want to grow these “extremely dense, cushion forming perennial with tightly packed rosettes of overlapping, oblong, gray-hairy leaves,” at home, here are cultivation notes. More beautiful photos and notes at botany.cz.

    1. 8 Most Important Doctors by Malcolm Harker via Love PlantLife

    2. 1. Pure oxygen-rich, nutrient dense water and foods
    3. 2. Sunlight and fresh air
    4. 3. Love and laughter
    5. 4. Appropriate exercise
    6. 5. Bare contact with the earth and elements
    7. 6. Firm breathing
    8. 7. Relaxation, meditation, music and sound sleep
    9. 8. Being at peace with oneself and in harmony with the environment
  • The Foodprint Project, a collaboration between Nicola Twilley (Edible Geography) and Sarah Rich, kicks off a series of international conversations on urban foodscapes and opportunities to transform our edible landscape through technology, architecture, legislation and education. First event: Saturday February 27 in NYC.

  • Homegrown Evolution’s self-irrigating planter resources.
Pollan’s Rules and Oliver’s Schools

Pollan’s Rules and Oliver’s Schools

Posted 12 February 2010 | By | Categories: Food, Health | Comments Off on Pollan’s Rules and Oliver’s Schools

What do we learn about food in school? Not much!

But I always learn something useful from Michael Pollan, here on Democracy Now, discussing the link between healthcare and diet, the dangers of processed foods, the power of the meat industry lobby, the “nutritional-industrial complex,” the impact industrial agriculture has on global warming, and his sixty-four rules for eating from “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”:

Watching the Jamie Oliver hold up a tomato in front of a classroom of kids who were not able to identify hits in a visceral emotional way. As winner of the 2010 TED Prize his wish is to teach every child about food and empower them against obesity:

(See also Mark Bittman’s talk on What’s wrong with what we eat from 2009 EG conference.)

    Here are some things I’ve learned from the garden this week:

  • Celery: I harvested some celery by completely removing the plant and cut other stalks off at the soil level so I’d know where to put in some new plants. Those that were cut are shooting up new stalks.
  • Of all the plants I expected to be devoured as they are growing up, the broccoli and brussels sprouts would have been last on my list. I imagined the sulfur-containing compounds that make them so healthy for us would be naturally repellent to most insects. Oh how wrong I was — they are being eaten alive by caterpillars (cleverly colored exactly the same green as the leaves) and now attracting what looks like black scale insects at the base. I’ve been using an organic garlic spray along with manually picking off the offenders when I see them.
Tropical Tuesday

Tropical Tuesday

Posted 10 February 2010 | By | Categories: Container Gardening, Food, Gardening, Health, Plants, Seagarden | Comments Off on Tropical Tuesday

Coffee and bananas are staples — essentials — on my shopping list, papaya and passionfruit whenever in season. But usually, I’m referring to the end produce, not the plant. Today, all four plants found their way into my home.

Is there any scent that puts your heart more at ease than roasting coffee beans? Not for me… that’s the fragrance that wafted through the air of my family’s business across from the Folger’s plant in downtown Kansas City when I was growing up. Apparently though, the scent of flowering coffee resembles jasmine so much that it was first described as Jasminium arabica. And it’s recommended as a plant whose fragrance drifts or wafts on the air. Oh how little I know about my favorite first daily drink (or drug, if you insist). Looking forward to getting to know you in a whole new way, coffee!

Banana plants make gorgeous indoor ornamentals even if they never fruit, but I love the idea of cultivating options beyond the corporate banana monoculture. The passionflower vine twining up the pergola in my NYC Skygarden delighted me with its abundant purple blooms. It was sold as an annual but kept going for years. This golden passionfruit vine aka sweet granadilla looked so beautiful with healthy heart shaped leaves in the store, I hope it can thrive here in the windy Seagarden.

Juicy ripe papayas are divine pleasures, and the green fruits make great som tam (a spicy Thai salad). Alas, the Hawaiian papayas sold in the US are genetically modified and the New Zealand stores are filled with irradiated imports from Australia. Excited to see if they will grow here — the leaves and aroma of the plant itself are lovely regardless.

hibiscusflowermandevilla white fantasyTopping off this tropical Tuesday, my parents arrived bearing flowering mandevilla and hibiscus flower plants.

All of today’s additions will enjoy the comforts of container living, moving indoors or out depending on season and Seatoun weather. If you have any secrets for cultivating any of these exotic beauties outside their native environments, I welcome your suggestions.

  • If you like the scent of roasting coffee wafting over you, Wellington is your town! Cafe L’affare is a delightful cafe (with great daily specials) built around the roaster: 27 College St, Wellington, New Zealand 04 385 9748. Mojo Coffee just opened a new roastery and headquarters at Shed 13 on the Wellington Waterfront. What are your favorites?
Who’s Laying Eggs in the Okra?

Who’s Laying Eggs in the Okra?

Posted 07 February 2010 | By | Categories: Plants, Vegetables | Comments Off on Who’s Laying Eggs in the Okra?

who is laying eggs on the okra plants?

This morning as I was moving the okra seedlings to make room for UV film installation on the windows, I noticed each leaf of both the clemson spineless and burgundy varieties had little crystal beads on their undersides. They look like tiny dew drops and feel like tobiko (flying fish roe). That’s eggs. Eggs! Who is laying eggs in my okra?

Okra doesn’t seem to have too many natural pests, and I hadn’t seen eggs like this on any other plant.

Turns out they’re sap beads — not eggs at all, as The 5b Garden discovered before me. In fact, it’s a good sign, boding well for future offspring according to Laura Silver, cultivating Okra on her fifth-floor Brooklyn, New York balcony. Apparently, both okra and orchids can release little sap balls when they’re happy.

Seagarden Log: Weather With You

Seagarden Log: Weather With You

Posted 01 February 2010 | By | Categories: Gardening, Seagarden | 2 Comments

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  • The weather station is up and running (though not yet in its ultimate location) and publishing through Weather Underground. See the day in weather at right. Now where are the beautiful Mac OS Weather Station apps? The Firehouse explores the question in detail, but the answer has not yet revealed itself. Do you know?
  • It thrills me no end to be growing chile peppers — or, as they say here, capsicums. The cayenne is full of beautiful green peppers and the jalapeño is flowering. The orange capsicum has three large peppers on it and the red capsicums are beginning to flower as well. The chiles went into a delicious guacamole and a pot of green chilli that hit the spot on this cold, rainy summer day
  • It was in the red peppers and tomato area that I noticed a profusion of young weta or grasshoppers. Will get a better picture to identify the little jumpers.
  • Testing the EasyBloom Plant Sensor near the meyer lemon tree. Full review coming soon. Check out the little lemons!
  • The blueberries seem to be delighted with recent feedings of organic fertilizer for acid-loving plants and a juniper mulch, as they’ve responded with lots of new leaf and berry growth. The tamarillos are growing huge.
  • Yes, we have tomatoes! And crystal apple cucumbers! And feijoas! Today was my first glimpse of all three.
  • The Chilean guava is full of berries that sure look ripe but aren’t yet ready to release. The blackberries grow in clusters but ripen individually; the few I’ve tasted are sweeter than any I’ve had elsewhere. Oddly, the blackberry plant I purchased hasn’t shown much initiative, the fruit has all been plucked from similar vines that arrived on their own volition.
  • The potato plants springing up through the strawberry patch are growing huge, and the brussels sprouts have started to take off, though they’re getting lots of bites on the leaves as well.
  • In the vegetable garden, the arugula has all gone to seed and the spinach is headed that way. I have been reseeding with many exciting greens, but I suspect that was the last time we shall ever see such an orderly pattern of plants in that area.