Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Get your Edible Austin Raffle Tickets – Great Prizes! December 2, 2010

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 Edible Austin’s Eat Local Week benefitting Urban Roots, kicks off this Saturday, beginning at the SFC Farmer’s Market at Republic Square and the East Austin Urban Farm bike tour.  At every event for the next week, including the Farmer’s Markets downtown and at the Triangle, there will be opportunities to purchase raffle tickets.  I bought 5 yesterday.  The prizes are as follows:

Grand Prize – Value $1000 – Central Market private hands-on cooking class for 8 taught by Chef Christina Lee, winner of the 2010 Chefs Under Fire Competition.  Create a 5 course meal complete with wine pairings.

First Prize – Value $685 – A 2011 Urban Roots CSA Share.  17 weeks of fresh, organic produce grown by local Austin youth.  Winner must commit to picking up their produce from the Saturday or Wednesday SFC Farmer’s Market or from Urban Roots farm.

Second Prize – Value $500 – A weekend stay in San Antonio at the new boutique Hotel Havana.  One of the newest hotels to open along the San Antonio Riverwalk.  Stay includes breakfast.

Third Prize-Value $150-A give certificate for a free month of Greenlings “local box” delivered to your home.

Fourth Prize – Value $65 – An Earthbox from Austin Urban Gardens.  Perfect for balconies and patios, the Earthbox is maintenance free and more than doubles the yield of a conventional garden.

Tickets are 1 for $5.00 or 5 for $20.  Great prizes for a great cause.

 

Fall Garden – Potato Takeover November 14, 2010

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The strawberries are all tucked into their well mulched home at the East end of the 24 foot garden.  The rest of that garden is a blend of lettuces, spinach, cabbages, broccoli raab, and peppers.

 

Big garden

 

The peppers are still making peppers like crazy, which makes me happy.  I’m eating them as fast as I can!

 

Peppers galore!

 

The cabbage is gorgeous, but shows no signs of making a head.  I have this problem every year.

 

Headless cabbage

 

The 8 foot garden, in which I planted potatoes in August, then overplanted with other things when the potatoes showed no signs of coming up, has now been overtaken by the late sprouting potato plants.

 

Potato Takeover

 

The broccoli in this garden looks good, although no crowns have sprouted.  The pac choi also looks good and can be harvested at any time for stir frying.  The potatoes are flowering, which is a good sign, although because of the shortened growing time  (since they sat dormant for over a month), I’m not expecting a large harvest.  Potatoes take about 100 days, so I’m thinking I’ll get a crop of smallish new potatoes around Thanksgiving.

The 8 foot bed where the Nandina used to be, currently is empty, except for a few scraggly bean plants and some weeds.

The Celebrity Tomato in the Earthbox, has produced exactly one small tomato thus far.  There is one more medium sized tomato that will make it, and there are several tiny tomatoes that I’m going to try to coax through the next few weeks, by making a greenhouse over the Earthbox with clear plastic.

 

Tomato in the Earthbox

 

The two side beds are filled with onions and garlic, and will stay that way until harvest in March or April.

The next thing I’ll be planting will be additional blackberry bushes, in the next few weeks, and perhaps more lettuce and spinach.

 

Mid-November Garden Harvest November 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 11:32 pm
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Normally, my mid-November harvest would be vegetables I’ll be eating for dinner, like spinach, and lettuce.  However, I had a party to attend away from home.  When I got home it was dark, but I hadn’t seen the back gardens for a couple days, so I headed out back.  Holy peppers!  It seems really late to have this volume of peppers, but there they were, and there are lots more to mature before picking:

 

Jalapenos, Serranos, and Thai Chiles

 

On the driveway, in an Earthbox is one tomato plant.  It had two tomatoes on it, and a couple just setting fruit.  I picked the first one to start turning, before some evil animal or bird saw it.

 

Only Fall tomato so far

 

My plan is to make a makeshift greenhouse over the Earthbox and see if I can’t coax more of these potential tomatoes to maturity.

Also ready to pick, are 5 or 6 huge Meyer Lemons.  I’ll tackle them tomorrow, when I’m ready to preserve some of them.  I don’t want to waste anything I’ve managed to grow!

 

Time to Plant Strawberries – Updated Post October 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 8:23 am
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My gardening time clock must be a little off this year, because it seems like I always plant strawberries when it it cold.  But, rather than defer to my inner gardener, I’ll refer to the experts telling me its time to plant strawberries.  Natural Gardener has its first batch of strawberry transplants, Chandler, Sequoia and Seascape.

Seascapes are described as large, sweet and hardy with superb flavor.

Chandler is a favorite for its large yields and long producing time.

The Sequoia variety is known for its large robust fruit, bearing from early Spring to Mid-summer.

Plant your strawberry plants in a sunny location in acidic soil.   Set plants about 12 to 15 inches apart.   Add a layer of mulch, straw or plastic sheeting around the plants to prevent weeds from growing and to conserve moisture.  They do equally well in pots or other containers such as Earthboxes or hanging baskets.  I’m going to plant some in an Earthbox to compare to growing them in the raised garden.
I have planted Chandlers and Sequoias historically, and one set of plants produced better than the other, but as usual, I did not mark them, so I can’t say which did best.  I’m going to try all three varieties this year and keep them well marked.
Growing strawberries is extremely rewarding, and really very easy.  They require little care through the winter, but once Spring comes around they should be fertilized and will start to require more water.  Picking ripe, red, delicious strawberries out of your garden in the Spring and Summer is as good as it gets.

Newly Planted Strawberry Patch

Here was my strawberry patch last year, just after planting.   In looking for that photo, my last “Time to Plant Strawberries” post was 10/31/09, so we are right on target.

Strawberries in April

And I ate strawberries all Spring and part of the Summer.
Update: Just returned from Natural Gardener, and once I get the soil ready to plant, I’m good to go!  Finding the time to do any gardening in the next 3 days will be the hold up.

Meet the Chandlers, Sequoias and Seascapes

Woo Hoo!  I’m excited for the new generation of strawberries.

 

Almost Fall in an Austin Urban Garden September 5, 2010

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The garden is a little boring right now.  The only thing that I’m eating from the garden is serrano and jalapeno peppers.  The lettuce I sowed last week, didn’t survive the heat – it came up, but the sun baked it and it disappeared.  The broccoli is up and looking good.

Baby Broccoli

For comparison sake, I planted more corn a few days ago.  I’m trying to compare growing seasons and different varieties, since I have enough space to do it.  One of my friends makes fun of me for my corn garden, and says I need a Golf Cart combine to harvest my little 5′x5′ patch of corn.  I won’t be sharing.  But, the newly sowed corn is peeking out.

Yes, more corn

The tomatoes look great, especially those in the Earthbox.  Most are flowering but none have set fruit yet.  The peppers are going great guns.  The cucumber/butternut squash looks great.  Can’t wait to see which it is.  A few days ago I planted Royal Burgundy Bush beans.  They aren’t up yet.

Royal Burgundy Bush Beans

Something is coming up where I planted the potatoes.  I’m not sure it is potatoes yet. I’m fairly confident that many of the potatoes composted because the soil was so warm.  I’m on a wait and see still for the potatoes.  I’ll plant more lettuce and perhaps some chard today, and hope for the best!

 

Earthbox Sale this Weekend! September 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 10:46 pm
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My  repeated experiments of planting vegetables in the raised garden, and the Earthbox have had 100% conclusive results that the Earthbox rules.  Reporting this could be detrimental to my raised bed garden business, but it really is stunning.  If you have no space for a garden, or just a small space, the Earthbox on casters is the way to get started.  It has a water reservoir that holds 3 gallons of water, so even in this heat, you only have to fill it a couple of times, until the plants mature and start producing fruit.   The casters allow for wheeling the box in and out of the sun or cold.  It would be great for the kiddos to start with planting seeds, then learning where food comes from.  This weekend, including Labor Day, we are selling Earthboxes for $55.00, which includes tax.

Email austinurbangardens.com or dm me on Twitter @gardens123, or call me (carla, 619-7966)

 

September 1, Austin Urban Garden – Stress and Success September 2, 2010

With this lingering heat, parts of the garden are struggling to get through each day.  The Corn in the Three Sisters Garden, has been looking pale and tired, although most of the stalks are making corn.  Setting cobs?  Since the other two sisters flew the coop, the beans and pumpkins, the garden isn’t getting nitrogen from the beans.  And corn needs nitrogen.  So I picked up some fish emulsion and hand watered the corn with a diluted mixture.  I also threw some worm castings on top of the soil, because I have an irrational belief that worm poo fixes everything.  We’ll see.  But for now:

Heat stressed corn

corn cobs growing

The peppers are doing fine, but do look a bit stressed in the heat of the day.

Peppers hanging in

The tomatoes in the garden are waiting for less heat to fully thrive.

Garden Tomatoes look puny

Butternut Squash or Cucumber?

This is either butternut squash or lemon cucumber.  I planted both and can’t tell the difference.  Whatever it is, it is happy.  Hoping for the butternut, but if life hands me lemon cucumbers, I’ll make lemon cucumber pickles again.

The broccoli seeds are up.  I need to thin them a bit every day.  I never know how they all show up in one end of the garden.  Watering, maybe.

Broccoli seedlings

The Black Seeded Simpson lettuce has sprouted as well.  I really hope it cools off, or it will be too hot for this lettuce.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce

There are some strange things sprouting in the potato bed, although I’m not sure any of them are potatoes.  Still waiting.   They might be compost.

On the Herb Patio, the Bay Laurel, which sat as a barron stick for a year, has sprouted a friend!  This will be fabulous for winter soups and stews.  I love Bay.

Bay for Winter

The garden winners of the day, strangely, are the tomatoes in the Earthbox.  They are the healthiest and heartiest of the whole lot.

Tomatoes in an Earthbox Surviving the Heat

So, it’s still hot, but I’m ever hopeful for Fall weather, and a more and more productive Fall and Winter garden.  The Fall and Winter garden are my favorites.  So abundant and with such good food.

 

Earthbox Beats the Heat August 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 3:42 pm
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I’ve been chronicling my Earthbox adventures since Spring, when I gave myself one (OK, two).   I figured if we were going to sell them, I should be able to talk about them from experience.  The Spring tomatoes in my Earthbox were the most productive, of all the tomatoes I planted, and the least afflicted with pests, although I’m not sure the Earthbox gets credit for that.  They turned into a wild tomato jungle, just two plants in one little box.  I attributed the difference to the fact that the Earthbox holds water in a reservoir, that the plants can seek out as needed.

Now, I’m doing the same experiment with Fall tomatoes which I planted a few weeks ago.  Not surprisingly, the tomatoes planted in the Earthbox look better than those in the raised bed.

Tomatoes in an Earthbox

Tomatoes in the raised bed

The most interesting thing about this is that the tomatoes in the raised bed almost didn’t make it at all, during those triple digit days, and had to be covered.  They are spindly and just don’t look good.  The tomato plants in the Earthbox never even needed to be covered, they just soldiered through the triple digits, sucking up water from the reservoir, I guess and are greener and much heartier.  I wish I’d invented it, I think they are amazing.

 

Mid June in My Garden, and Corn Update June 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 10:43 am
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I’m watering every other day, picking Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes and peppers every day, and obsessing about the corn every day.  Welcome to my garden, where something works and something fails every season.  This season’s failure 1) the black beans.  They grew fine, but never produced beans, so I pulled them up and planted purple hull peas today.  Failure 2) my inability to keep the squirrels away from my big tomatoes.  Outsmarted so far, at every turn.  This season’s champion by far is the Chocolate Cherry Tomato.  If you want lots of really great tomatoes, that neither the squirrels nor the bugs seem interested in, plant these.

Corn!

More corn porn

Celebrity tomatoes

Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes in the Earthbox

Chocolate Cherry tomatoes in the garden

Lemon Cucumber

Squirrel Food

Poblano Pepper

Jalapeno Peppers

Watermelon planted late

Malabar Spinach

Limes!

What’s up next in the garden?  I still need to pull up the last of the strawberries, add some soil to the compacted bed and turn it to make way for the pumpkins to be planted in a couple of weeks.  I’m undecided as to whether to leave in all the Spring planted tomatoes, or pull the less productive ones up and replace them with new Fall plants.  The time to start planting tomatoes again is July.  I think the Chocolate Cherry tomatoes will keep producing through the Fall, they have been so productive all Spring.    Happy gardening!

 

Growing Tomatoes in an Earthbox April 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 2:57 pm
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The tomato plants I planted in my Earthbox, are huge.  I don’t want to put myself out of the raised garden business, but by comparison, the Earthbox tomatoes are bigger, heartier looking and more advanced with regard to setting fruit.  Most of my tomato plants are heirlooms, with a couple of Celebrities mixed in.   Here are the plants in the Earthbox.

Tomatoes in an Earthbox

And they are setting fruit.

Tomatoes setting fruit

I believe the difference is the available source of water in the reservoir at the bottom of  the Earthbox.  My garden has to wait until I water it, but the Earthbox, sort of waters itself.  Looking forward to tomatoes, no matter where they grow.

 

 
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