Monday, June 16, 2014

Rooftop Garden - Third Time's the Charm

a view of our plants in their raccoon protected safety zone
This is the third summer that Drew and I have been in our apartment, and for the third time we're testing our green-thumb skills. The last couple of years yielded mixed results, but we've channeled those into improving the plant choices and arrangements.

parsley and oregano, in a brief moment of shade
We're repeating a few things that we had last year, like tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and dill. We did not get onions this year, though they did well, and we didn't get a few herbs, like sage. The reason for not getting onions and sage is primarily that we don't use them enough. The onions didn't have quite enough space and so they stayed quite small. That was OK in the end, because I decided to make cocktail onions with them, and they turned out really well, but without the space to spread out the onions and let them really grow, they're not as desirable. When it comes to sage, that stuff grows until it resembles a small conifer unless you're constantly trimming it and using it, and we just don't make enough food with sage. Some of the new things we have are Italian oregano, which is growing like crazy, and kale, which was a bit of a gamble but is paying off so far.

I've learned a few things about the unique conditions present on our roof. It's very sunny, very hot, and very humid through most of the summer. Tomatoes love the sunniest spots, which afford 15 hours of sunlight in June, but last summer the pots they were in didn't drain well enough. The plants grew tall and spindly instead of thick and lush. We still had a bunch of tomatoes from them, but not as many as we'd get from a healthy plant. This year we've drilled extra holes into the bottom of the pots, and I can see that there's already an improvement.

baby dill plants, enjoying a cozy 10L bucket
The dill did not do well last summer. It was in a trough-style planter with other herbs, and did not like it, so this year it's living in a much deeper pot with no other plants around. It's also doing much better than last year even at this early stage.

The kale, which currently feels like my gardening crowning achievement, is doing great. It loves the sun, and it needs a lot of water - more than the tomatoes even - but we've been diligent and have already harvested leaves off of the four plants we have twice. I'm not sure how they'll hold up over the entire summer because they apparently grow quite tall and like to have lots of root space, which unfortunately isn't possible in container gardening. I hope that the limited area for rooting won't stunt them, but will report back.

We have planted our standard array of sun-loving herbs - thyme, lavender, and basil - and of course we've got mint growing off in a corner by itself. As many people who have tried to garden with mint know well, it does not play well with others.

Finally, we've got some flowers, just to add colour to our garden. Petunias, delphinia, dusty miller, snap dragons, and gerbera daisies soak up the sun and give back their colours. On the roof among the plants is my very favourite place to be.

sorry, mint. you have to stay by yourself.

1 comment:

  1. "sorry, mint. you have to stay by yourself." hahahahaha