Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Garden Cat Nap

Garden cat chillin in the lilies. 

This guy used to be really skinny. Then he was trapped, neutered, and released back into the garden. Now he enjoys regular meals and the company of lots of other semi-feral, fixed cats, and he looks like a big hunk of kitty. 

Don't worry, these unstoppable day lilies bounced right back. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Brunswick Street Community Garden Tulip Time

Early spring is a beautiful time in the garden. We're located next to an enormous stone wall (an abandoned railroad embankment) that does a great job of storing the heat of the sun and warming our soil a few days ahead of everyone else. This makes our early bloomers do their thing even earlier. Two weeks ago I snapped these photos of some of my favorites: tulips. 

I planted these petite, pointy petaled pink tulips two falls ago. 

A neighboring plot puts on a great show of multicolored blooms every spring. The gardener who planted these bulbs has long since relocated to upstate New York, but her flowers live on in Jersey City. 

These dark pink on the inside and light pink on the outside blooms look like they're glowing when the sun hits them. They're a new favorite. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Garden Programming on TV, YouTube, and Beyond

In the depths of winter or sometimes just during my lunchbreak, I'll go online and watch videos to get my garden fix.  Here are some of my favorites, past and present:

The Victorian Kitchen Garden, BBC2 1987 13 part series
Hosted by horticultural lecturer Peter Thoday and master gardener Harry Dodson, the series follows the daily upkeep of an authentic Victorian era kitchen garden, broken into monthly episodes.  If you can get past the poor quality of the film back then, you are in for a real educational treat.  Filmed at the Chilton Foliat estate in Wiltshire, England, the show covers tools, techniques, plants, and the latest scientific advancements at the time. And it's all done by two fine British chaps in three piece suits, who aren't exactly... young.

Edwardian Farm, BBC2 2010 12 part series
A gorgeous little Edwardian Farm in pastoral Devon, England is put back into service, Edwardian style, in this month-by-month program.  Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn spend a year working the authentic farm as is would have been in the first decade of 20th century Britain. The cast is charming, the scenery to die for (if rolling green landscapes are your thing), and the topics covered are numerous: gardening, cooking, construction, hedging, housework, and animal rearing are all touched upon.  If you like the series, there are several other BBC2 productions along the same lines and with some repeat cast members.

The Edible Garden, BBC 2010 6 part series
Gardener Alys Fowler turns her small urban garden into an intensively planted edible garden in this series. Her goal is to grow all of the fresh produce her family will consume that year.  We watch as she judiciously makes room for more edibles, plans to maintain her garden's cottage feel, and introduces chickens into her scheme.  All the while, her cute little dog parades around and accompanies her on various excursions.  This is the kind of programming that offers inspiring creative projects and realistic goals for any home gardener.

The Victory Garden, PBS 1975-2009 many, many episodes
How could I not mention what is probably the longest running and most influential gardening program ever produced?  It all started back in 1975 with host James Underwood Crockett, a former director of the American Horticultural Society, and ended in 2009 with Jamie Durie, an Australian TV personality and former Chippendale dancer!  I enjoyed watching the final seasons, set in perpetually sunny LA, packed with visits to lush private gardens, usually filled with the most fantastic cacti, yucca, and succulents one could imagine.  I never knew Durie's exciting past, as he was excellent in rattling off the scientific names of almost everything he encountered on the show.

Growing a Greener World, 2010-today, weekly episodes on PBS stations around the country
This is my new weekend garden program for when I'm loafing on the sofa with coffee and a donut.  Although there are many episodes about the home garden, host and producer Joe Lamp'l also tackles larger issues like sustainability, environmental education, and community activism with an emphasis on gardening.  If you like the idea of organic, green, environmentally friendly gardening and landscaping practices, this is the show for you.  Bonus: at the end of each episode, there's a goofy cooking segment that usually leaves me smiling.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cats Like Fish Toys

Mao Mao really went to town on her toy fish. Sometimes she needs to be encouraged to play and other times she just takes care of it herself. Take that, toy fish!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Springtime Seed Sowing, Inside and Out

Memories of last summer in the Brunswick Street Community Garden (with cat).

I think everyone is anxious for spring this year. Personally, I can't stop thinking about the garden, my planting plans for this year, and my successes (Beefmaster tomatoes) and failures (beets) of last year.   The weather is still a little chilly and unpredictable, but that hasn't stopped me from prepping the garden and sowing seeds. So far I've got purple bunching onions, Amarillo carrots, generic Burpee Nantes carrots, Red Russian kale, Lacinato kale, and the Baker Creek Red Wings lettuce mix in the ground. 

The garden is a lovely place to sit and relax in the spring. Bulbs are coming up, the rose bushes are showing signs of life, and the garden cats are frolicking. After putting in an hour or two of weeding and messing about, I sometimes allow myself ten or fifteen minutes to just relax on the bench and observe. 

Over the weekend I started some more seeds indoors. Can you grow romaine lettuce for transplanting? I'm going to find out. 

This time I repurposed a 3 part clear plastic egg carton by removing the top for use as a tray. The two remaining halves with egg indentations will serve as mini individual greenhouses. 

I poked holes in the bottoms of the egg indentations on one side to allow for drainage. 

And then I hydrated some more Jiffy seed starting peat pellets and squished them into the egg carton greenhouse. 

I put three Baker Creek Red Romaine seeds in each pellet, closed the top, and put the whole thing on the tray. I'm germinating these seeds on top of my refrigerator and will move them to the window once they sprout. 

I'll post an update on all of my seeds next week.