Thursday, September 30, 2010

City farming

The haul from the roof farm on Tuesday evening. I fried the green tomatoes last night and they were surprisingly delicious! Dipped the slices in whisked egg with some cream, then into self rising flour, heavily seasoned, and cooked in an olive oil and butter mix. Drizzled some lemon juice over at the last. Outside was crisp, inside tender and slightly tart, and piping hot.

I have taken out the black cherry tomatoes and planted in their stead some strawberries from the terrace, which were already rootbound, only a couple of months after rooting from runners...

In their new home:

The strawberries are proving far more energetic in taking over the world than the cucuzza threatened to be. I took that out some weeks ago, smelling the burned hair pong of the leaves all the while. I was sorry to see the flowers go, though - they were luminously beautiful, opening before sunset. But after the last - and only mature - cucuzza won the blue ribbon for heaviest summer squash at the Farm City Fair, I thought it was time to quit. Sorry I didn't get to eat it, though. I wonder who did?

I planted mesclun and the last of the spicy microgreen mix in its big pot.

Coming up, on the 19th...

 And yesterday:

Estorbo is here identifying a problem: the upland cress in the trough did not grow green and lush like the crop sown on the terrace, but turned dull red and remained stunted, for . The soil also remained wet, even though the drainage holes were working. So I pulled it out and noticed this kind of fungusy, spore-y growth on the soil down the sides of the trough which was packed with roots. It was new soil, so the roots belonged to the cress, despite their dwarfish leaves.

It was only when I looked at the picture on my computer that I noticed the critters...small, pale.

Any ideas? Click to enlarge.

I had planned to sow the second packet of chervil here, but now am not so sure. I'll wait until I know what the bugs were/are. The top trough shows what I will pick tonight and tomorrow, the middle what I picked in the last two weeks. It rejuveneated little, and I'll take the stems out and replant later this week.

They taste as good as they look. We're having an ensemble of sausages for supper and these leaves with walnut oil vinaigrette will be a perfect, mustardy counterpoint.

The cat supervised rubbish removal and safe return of terra cotta pots to the terrace.

Speaking of which. Walked down the brownstone steps this morning to find one pot missing altogether, but the impatiens that had been in it were standing all naked and intact on the same step. And another impatiens pot was jammed on top of a very happy (well, it used to be very happy) begonia, now crushed. Lots of broken, sappy stems. Sad and mysterious.


  1. Need a better photo, but maybe root mealy bugs. Apparently soggy soil attracts.

    I've had the mysterious wet pot.

    holes, less watering, still wet.


  2. I've been having difficulty with potting soil not draining well from pots this year. I've been using Fafard, which has been good in previous years. It doesn't seem as if their mix has changed, and the pots in question have had ample drainage holes. In most cases the water eventually drains, but just takes a lot longer. I'd love to know the answer if you figure it out.

    Very sad about the stoop and strange they only wanted the containers. From 2006-2008 I had an ample container garden in the front of a drab brownstone on Union Street. I kept adding to the collection because amazingly nothing ever got taken. After having lived in Ft Green in the early 90s where containers were chained to stoops, I found it amazing and charming that Carroll Gardens was so different (or that the city had changed so much).

    But then the weekend of our move things changed. The pots took several trips to move, once I started moving them, the ones that remained waiting their turn started to disappear. In my case, it was plants and pot (some at the time new dicentra and astilbe cultivars I recall). I wasn't too upset -- I never kept anything in the front that I cherished too much, since obviously anything I put there was exposed to theft. It's just puzzling that the space was respected until I started dismantling it myself.

  3. Beautiful rooftop harvest!
    I've just put some celery in my raised garden. Celery usually doesn't do that well, but I get a lot of greens and that is my favorite part of celery! I use it for almost everything! Soups, stews, salads, dips.


  4. Looks like root aphids.

  5. Frank and Lisa thank you - I think they are the root aphids, though both look similar. So odd just that one trough was affected, with new soil, and new seeds? I'm going to bin the soil and nuke the trough with bleach.

    Klaus - not sure - I've always found Fafard to be quite moisture retentive, but it does depend ofn which mix, and I'm not familiar with all of them.

    Rainey - I have never tried celery - will you do the cardboard sleeve thing?

  6. The roof farm is looking great. It's so nice to have a garden kitty to help with the chores.

  7. Probaly much too late to be any help at this point, but I agree with the root aphid suggestion. We've had them a few times on greenhouse crops and they've always been accompanied by almost bluish white, mycelium-like patches on the root mass. I see that same stuff in your picture.

  8. I am so happy to discover your blog (I read about you on the Martha Stewart's living magazine). What beautiful pot garden you have! Seeing your blog now gets me excited again about the coming of spring, and planting, and anticipating the perennials that will come back. I am on my lunch right now, and I can't wait to go home and read all your posts and enjoy the pictures that go with them.


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