Monday, July 30, 2007

The Rooftop Garden

As I mentioned in earlier posts, an organization in Boston creates urban farms, where the produce is used in soup kitchens and to help out families. They are experts at managing a lot of low-maintenance small plots. I approached them about getting some space to begin a cooperative for African women in Boston, and they were kind enough to let me start using part of their rooftop garden very late in the growing season, and also before I had shown any evidence of knowing what I was doing (I still haven't). In South Africa I imagine it would be very near impossible to use communal land to grow produce, so I'm really amazed at this possibility here in Boston.

Pictured here is the larger garden, and one of my small squares (I have 3, but they do not all have plants in them because I began so late). In them are Arugula, summer greens, basil, tomatoes and cabbage. I grew these at the suggestion of the head urban gardener. Being on a roof means that the plants are not protected against the heat, and plants can dry out quickly. Nevertheless, my plants are doing well.

If you have any suggestions for plants that would grow late in the season in the Northeastern United States, please let me know.

Also pictured are the tomatoes that live on our fire escape. They are growing phenomenally well and are laden with tomatoes. We bought 2 tomato plants from Home Depot (now we would go to Busa farms, where we bought our peppers and have our CSA) and put them straight into a container. Their pots were biodegradable and so the roots gradually work through the pots. The container is a storange container, about 9 inches deep, 1.5 feet wide, and 2.5 feet long. We drilled a lot of holes in the bottom to allow good drainage and put in some potting soil.

To come: Finding your local farm and getting a seasonal share to provide you with healthy veggies for the winter.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Freezing herbs

Our herbs are growing well. Particularly the basil and parsley is now ready to begin being cut. Perfectly organic, very fresh.

The only thing is, there's only so much basil you can eat. (Unless you make pesto)

In which case, freezing for the winter is an excellent option. I've just started doing this and will post photos. Basically, you chop up the herbs as much as you can, then place them in an ice cube tray, filling up each cube to about half. Then, you fill the tray with water and freeze them. You can then take them out and wrap them in cling wrap or in a ziplock (depending on what quantity you will use at one time).

When you need a meal with that herbs, just drop the ice cube in! Provided it's a hot dish, the water amount is negligible and should not affect the consistency of your meal.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Amazing Purple Peppers

Our purple peppers have grown in quantity and size, as you can see. The thing is, although it is easy to buy the plant, I had no idea how they compare to green, orange or red peppers. I've done some research and now I'm happy about our exciting purple peppers.

First of all, they're very shiny and beautiful. And apparently quite expensive and hard to buy, which makes me feel proud. However, when they are cooked they apparently turn a khaki colour, which doesn't sound so nice. I (we)'ll let you know how it goes. People also use them in salad, but we don't eat a lot of salad so maybe we will give it to people who do, or we will start eating salad.

Other information if you're also growing purple bells: Early harvesting makes them taste more grassy than green peppers (but still closer in taste to purple than to red). They turn green as they ripen, and eventually become red. They are the least sweet of the bell peppers.

I'll keep seeds and grow seedlings if you're interested in trying out purple peppers for yourself next spring. Hopefully they will be a great source of food and enjoyment.

Next: an update on the roof garden and an update on our tomatoes (who are huge)