Rising Food Prices and Greenhouse Gardening (Google / The Greenhouse Catalog)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening


Rising Food Prices Make Greenhouse Gardening more Attractive and Economical

June 19th, 2008 by Greenthumb

Not many consumers today would argue with that statement. With gasoline prices over $4 a gallon and diesel fuel selling for a good $0.80 cents above gasoline, everyone is feeling the pinch. Because it is costing more to transport produce, and farmers are raising prices to compensate for the increase in the cost of living, a gallon of milk now costs the same as a gallon of gasoline and fresh produce is nearly worth its weight in gold. For families with growing children at home, fresh produce is a necessity, not a preference, and putting a balanced meal on the table three times a day is becoming more of a challenge as the economy continues its downward spiral. The cost of food affects more than just our health and our wallets. The national poverty index is determined by multiplying the average cost of feeding a family. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the cost of feeding a low-income family of four has risen 6 percent in 12 months. For some families, that 6 percent increase in the cost of groceries means less fruits, vegetables and dairy products consumed each week to make up the price difference. Continue reading Rising Food Prices and Greenhouse Gardening (Google / The Greenhouse Catalog)

Container gardening on Chicago windowsill (H. HOUGH / Willem)

A nice message from Heidi HOUGH (Chicago) :

I’m delighted to know that our little synopsis was helpful. We continue to enjoy your site and send grateful thanks for including our project, which is just getting underway in year two. In the meantime, I’ve got some cool-weather greens growing in plastic boxes (with drainage holes) up on our second-story window sills. Arugula, spinach, chard, French breakfast radish, and lettuces. I like to eat them right out of the box (like a grazing animal–I am shameless).Chicago windowsillChicago second story windowsill container with fresh vegetables.


 Vegetables in plastic trays high above the street

Young lettuce grown in the city


French breakfast radishes close to the kitchen

red lettuce

Lettuce on a windowsill can be decorative like flowering plants



On May 5th I posted the following message :

Some weeks ago I discovered that people in Chicago were growing plants in buckets. Bruce FIELDS, Heidi HOUGH and their friends developed a very interesting system. I asked them to receive more information on it and to be enabled to publish some of their marvelous pictures. Heide came up with a splendid solution : THEIR FLICKR PAGE. Here is her message :

“I have finally set to order my flickr page. I hope this helps you and others see how we set up our growing buckets. You may freely use any of my pictures at your site.

Here’s the link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/1904grg/sets/72157603959350377/

We are excited that it could be useful to people whose water supply is not as bountiful as our own, 20 blocks from Lake Michigan.

Heidi Hough & Associates Inc
1904 W Division
Chicago IL 60622

Text going with the Flickr Page :

Our homemade earthboxes–really earthbuckets–were created from food-grade buckets we had left over from the leaky roof years. We’ve shown a very rudimentary step-by-step series on how to build these buckets. This link is far more comprehensive:

Here’s a good video that shows the process:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZUCxBHeq04& eurl=http://www.h…

Art built the trellis, which worked beautifully for tying up the climbing cukes and tomatoes. With neighbor Bruce down the street in Wicker Park, Chicago, we had a lot of fun during this first year growing veggies on our rooftops. Go see his pix and descriptive text for more on this Year One of the rooftop garden experiment.

And our supportive friends helped us cook and eat the bounty.


I strongly recommend all the visitors of my blog to have a look at that wonderful series of pictures, explaining how the Chicago team build their bucket system.

My sincere congratulations to Heidi, Bruce and their Chicago team.”


Today, I received Heidi’s magnificent pictures of her “windowsill garden” (above). I believe that just a look at them will convince a lot of people to follow this splendid example, showing how simple and easy it is to produce fresh food in and around the house, even on a windowsill in a city like Chicago.

Did I recently hear food crisis ? Did someone mention high food prices ? Anyone of us, wherever we live, can partly solve that problem. Just grow your own vegetables and herbs (and some fruits) in containers in any location : balconies, terraces, windowsills, patios, platforms, open spaces around the house, flat roofs, etc. Even the cheapest containers, like plastic or PET bottles, yoghurt pots, buckets, sandwich boxes etc. can be transformed in mini-gardens or mini-greenhouses (see former postings on this blog). Give it a try and become a skilled gardener like Heidi HOUGH or Bruce FIELDS (see my former postings on their successes).

Kitchen Greenhouse : all about containers (Earth and Tree)

Read at : Earth and Tree


Monday, 31 March 2008

Kitchen Greenhouse

This is going back a few weeks, now, New Moon at the beginning of March to be exact.


I spent a happy afternoon at the kitchen table with the radio for company, surrounded by newspaper, compost (not always ON the newspaper, sadly!), milk cartons, seed packets, tin foil cat food trays, cardboard tubes and miscellaneous other extremely handy bits and bobs… attempting to construct little comfy homes for my seedlings. There was something very cathartic and Blue Peter about it all, I haven’t had so much fun in ages.

Elsie the cat was very helpful in attempting to eat, biff or sit upon my carefully organised chaos and has since been most displeased that the sunniest spot in front of the kitchen window (where she sun-worships and watches for passing pigeons to make the Ack-Ack noise at) is now occupied by a number of recycled DIY incubators of dubious construction.

Nevertheless, I got some herb seeds planted in my ‘proper’ propagator (try saying that quickly!), potted on the February seedlings and generally got very very grubby. Brilliant!

Continue reading Kitchen Greenhouse : all about containers (Earth and Tree)

Vegetables in containers (Bestgardening)

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Vegetables in containers

Remark : This is a part of the text on “Small Scale Vegetables”.

Pots of vegetables can be outstanding decorative elements and they make vegetables possible where there is no soil, such as on a balcony or in a paved courtyard. You can even grow your veges at home and then take them, container and all, to the beach to enjoy fresh lettuce or spicy chilli peppers.
Continue reading Vegetables in containers (Bestgardening)

Non-flowering strawberries in window boxes (J. TOLLEDOT)

Here is a question coming from my friend Joseph TOLLEDOT :

“I remember you had a flowering and fruiting Strawberry plant in a bottle…I planted some 10 bare-root Strawberry plants in March in window boxes – only one plant flowered and gave some fruit only once and then stopped. All the others have produced plenty of healthy leaves and many runners but no fruit – very disappointing! – What can I do now? Any ideas? I have seem much contradictory advice on the internet so I am unsure what to do!”


Joseph referred to my former posting:

My very simple strawberry bottles (Willem)

Strawberries flowering and fruiting in plastic (PET) bottles

I don’t have see a clear reason for the fact that Joseph’s strawberries are not flowering in the window boxes.  I can only make a couple of suggestions :

1. Can it be that temperature is sometimes becoming too high in the boxes?

2. Can it be that inside the boxes (behind the window) there is a lack of UV rays?

Who can help us out ?


Making a mini greenhouse with kids (Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas)

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Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas


Making a mini greenhouse with kids

The kids were desperate to get their hands into some gardening yesterday, and I was only too happy to oblige. Our youngest boy had obtained some directions for making a mini-greenhouse from a milk bottle and had been bugging me all week to help him with it. I finally had some free time yesterday and the recycling bin hadn’t been emptied so we had a few spare bottles on hand.

Step 1

We started by cutting the bottom third of a 2L plastic milk bottle (you could use any plastic bottle) and added some potting mix to a knuckle length below the rim.

Step 2

Once the soil was in, it was time to sow the seeds. The boys decided to plant some chive seeds and the girls opted for coriander. Both seeds had been collected from our herb garden at the end of last season.

They scattered a few seeds on top of the soil and then lightly pressed them. Another layer of soil was then used to cover the seeds and then a final moisture add.

Step 3

The final step in the project is to fit the top portion of the milk bottle back over the bottom part. The plastic used in making these milk bottles is quite soft and easily malleable while some other bottles have more rigid plastic and will take some patience to fit it over.

Each of the kids then labelled their mini greenhouses and found a spot in the shed on the window ledge. Continue reading Making a mini greenhouse with kids (Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas)

Making a cloche for your garden (Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas)

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Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas


Create an instant Garden Cloche

I’ve never been keen on planting seedlings only to watch them eaten overnight by snails, slugs, slaters and any other pest that starts with ‘s’. I’ve tried pellets, powders, sawdust, copper [Insert others I’ve missed] yet while they may stop one pest they don’t stop them all.  That is until a friend put me onto this great idea for a garden cloche – the humble 2L (4 pint) plastic PET bottle. It works a treat. Just cut the bottom third completely off and remove the lid and these can be placed straight over seedlings and even propagated cuttings. They act as a barrier for most, if not all, pests and as an added bonus create a mini-greenhouse effect for your plants. Continue reading Making a cloche for your garden (Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas)

Choosing containers for strawberry growing (RHS)

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Choosing containers

Grow bags are widely used by commercial and home growers for strawberries. Each bag will take around six plants and grow bags previously planted with an unrelated crop can be reused. To help stabilise the microclimate and improve air circulation, position the grow bags on a wooden plank (preferably of treated timber) supported about 1m (3ft) above the ground, fixed to treated posts 7.5cm (3in) in diameter driven 45cm (18in) into the ground, or to a free-standing timber support, plastic crates or concrete blocks. Grow bags can also be placed directly onto upturned crates or boxes. A rail at each end with a 15-cm (6-in) wide, rigid, small-mesh net stretched along each side will support the fruit horizontally, which helps to improve the sugar content. Yields of around 0.5 kg (1 lb) of fruit per plant can be achieved. Continue reading Choosing containers for strawberry growing (RHS)

Container gardening for all (selfsufficientish)

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Container gardening

So you live in a flat or a house with a small back yard and just don’t have room for gardening? Many people will take one look at this site and think, “I live in a small flat in Bristol (or wherever) I can’t be self sufficient”. This is true but you can be selfsufficientish. With a bit of lateral thinking you will surprised how much room you actually have. I was very impressed when I took a trip around Primrose Hill in London the other week. I saw an abundance of plants all growing in limited space. I also saw potential for many more. Whether it is just a window box, hanging basket or just a few pots on the patio you will soon find that you too could be self sufficientish. Continue reading Container gardening for all (selfsufficientish)

Small space vegetable gardens (Bestgardening)

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Bestgardening (see my Blogroll)


Small space vegetables 

As city gardens become ever smaller, garden space becomes more and more precious. Once the norm, space for growing vegetables may seem just a dream. Yet salads, tomatoes, and other vegetables are so much better straight from the garden. Young, tender vegetables are prized, and so much better when there are only minutes between the garden and the pot or salad bowl. The process, from garden to table, is enjoyable and one of anticipation. There are lots of ways to introduce vegetables into the garden, especially as we can become more innovative in how we grow our veges.

Tips for Small Space Vegetables
Concentrate on growing only those vegetables that benefit the most from being picked fresh and take up a small space. Don’t grow plants that take up lots of space, have a long growing season or you don’t love to eat!  Grow vegetables that are hard to find and not usually on the supermarket shelves, and select varieties for superior taste rather than crop size. Small is definitely beautiful in a tiny vegetable garden. The largest tomatoes are not necessarily the best tasting. Vegetables suitable for small spaces are generally harvested when young and tender. Thus the growing season is shorter and plants can be cycled through faster. Baby cauliflower, finger carrots, cherry tomatoes, spring onions, there are loads of suitable seeds on the market today. Grow fewer vegetables of each type. In a large garden we can grow 20 celery plants, in a small space garden you may want to grow only half a dozen, and in a balcony garden two or three plants will provide fresh stalks for cutting. In courtyards and against a warm wall you can often get planting long before the soil in a traditional garden has warmed enough for planting out and seed sowing.
Continue reading Small space vegetable gardens (Bestgardening)