The world of gardening containers is a sad carnival of ugly. I grow A LOT of plants, therefore requiring A LOT of pots. Unfortunately, the few stylish containers out there fall outside of a price range affordable to the bountiful, yet thrifty grower. That’s why I was excited to find these gorgeous plant pots at a Whole Foods on a recent trip to San Francisco. EcoForms embody all of the positives of plastic plant containers but they are made of biodegradable materials such as rice hulls. While they won’t last forever — this is a GOOD thing — they will last five years and claim to be structurally sound and resistant to freezing and thawing conditions.
I bought three pots with accompanying saucer: a Nova 6 in mocha brown ($5.99 US), an ebony black urn ($3.99 US), and a bowl in avocado green ($3.99 US). Saucers ran just over a buck or so depending on size. It turns out I should have bought more since EcoForms only seem to be available on the West Coast for the time being.
My spouse, our cat (she LOVES edamame!), and I just finished sharing a small plate of fresh edamame aka soy beans harvested from the rooftop garden. This first harvest came from one plant grown in a medium-sized container. The variety name is ‘Toyha.’ To be honest the taste was not unlike the frozen beans I have cooked up at home or purchased in Japanese restaurants, yet they SEEMED exceptional given that we grew them ourselves and watched their progress with eagerness since I sowed the first batch of beans in mid-June. I will add that they were much better than the under-sized pods I purchased at the Farmer’s Market last summer.
Well it turns out that the squirrels just up and left of their own accord. I have no idea why they would want to leave considering the cornucopia of delights waiting just outside their front door, but I’m not about to complain. And with their leave the peas have flourished. The ‘Carouby de Maussane’ plant has grown lush and has been pumping out pretty flowers and fresh peas on a daily basis.
I admit they rarely stay on the vine long enough to make even a small handful — nothing lasts very long since I tend to munch on whatever’s available when I’m out there with the watering can.
I’ve been very happy with this variety and will definitely grow it again. The plants are slowly starting to reach their end with the full heat of summer kicking it out on the rooftop. I’ll let them go for as long as they continue to produce and may just start a fresh crop in late summer when the intense sun and heat subsides out there. Or I’ll replace the plants with something else — I haven’t decided. I started another crop of the dwarf ‘Tom Thumb’ variety a few weeks back and they’re getting close to the flower-producing stage. They grow in smaller containers so I can control their heat exposure more closely. In the meantime fresh beans are starting to form from pretty purple flowers in another container across the deck. Here they are looking like microscopic penises!
I was recently inspired by a gardener profiled in the April/May issue of Organic Gardening magazine. In the interview, gardener Dallas Hays of Lewiston, Idaho talks about making his own fish fertilizer (good for nitrogen) “..using a blender and squawfish from a nearby lake.” He also makes his own potting mix and substitutes ground up loofah that he grows himself as a substitute for peat moss. In the same mix he replaces perlite with corncobs run through a cornmeal grinder.
I love it when people take it upon themselves to go outside the usual and try new and crazy homemade substitutes in the garden. Dallas, if you are reading this, you rule!
Growing succulents in the window box on the fire escape portion of my rooftop garden has become a tradition — most likely because they are just about the only plants that can survive the intense sun, heat, and drought. The deck is fully exposed to all sorts of harsh conditions but the fire escape area takes it to another level with black metal railings that absorb the sun’s rays throughout the day. And of course I had to go and make it worse by installing a galvanized metal window box to boot.
I try and mix up the plantings every year with the one requirement that the plants can survive. Plants that make it through both the summer and winter are given an easy retirement in less sunny pastures. I was shocked to discover a lavender from last year’s box still kicking it this spring.
From the Front:
Clockwise from right front: Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’, a sedum that keeps coming up all over the place, Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’, Sedum acre ‘Golden Acre’, Sempervivum, Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’. Hidden Behind: Sempervivum and Sedum album ‘Coral Carpet.
From the Side:
Previous Boxes: 2005, 2004.
Future Boxes: 2007