April 24, 2012

Some people are very very smart.

Revamped, "baby-totes," stroller found at Queen and Lansdowne last week. Best new toy. Totes a bin perfectly.

April 23, 2012

Winter storm warning for Ontario/lights out!

I've started bundling all of the bins in tarps because CTV can't stop talking about a winter storm front, and many of the baby plants that came up might not be able to handle being direct pressed with snow.

The pallets are pining the tarps on the south side of the bins because the wind tears up the roof from that direction, and I wanted to make sure they stayed put. It's supposed to be snowing right now..... but we'll see? This year we are experiencing an early monarch migration, and even though I'd like to think the cold will only knock out the early gnats and mosquitos, I doubt it. Ugh. Hope for cold rain.

Chickweed rolls across town to Bellwoods Brewery

We gave Guy Rollins some greens from the roof to mess around with, and they showed up on this, what my pal called a bowl of, "calm the eff down." He is a parent to an 11 month old, so I'm inclined to trust his expertise in such matters. It was super simple and outrageously tasty. Chicken of the Woods mushrooms, rye toasts on Rye berries (i think?!) with some buttery tasting sauces and the aforementioned chickweed. So just in case excellent beer wasn't enough for you, now you have no reason not to line up at Bellwoods.

April 19, 2012

gnats get it on, on my finger.

I did not have the heart to break this up. Probably because gnats only live for a maximum of four months, and we are on top of a bar... Fortunately for their romantic objective, they like moist soil medium and we have a lot of that. The adults have no interest in eating the plants but if their is huge larvae outbreak in the soil (unlikely) the baby roots might be at risk.

For some very specific info on gnats, and a bunch of other info on natural insect control in your garden, go here. Go here to see what it looks like when countless thousands of gnats mate in mid-air. Check out the dragonflies and their mathematical hunting moves that one commenter called, "quartering the yard." On top of their obvious size and speed advantage over the gnats, dragonflies can independently move each of their four wings and fly backwards. They also mate in mid-air. The gnats never had a chance, even if they weren't completely distracted.

When I searched Dragonfly sex on youtube the results were way less weird than I thought they'd be, and this amazing video (with a homemade soundtrack?) leads you sideways into an amazing, super technical series of science links. Check out, "Solar Death Ray Water," to see why you should never build a flat roofed structure out of clear vinyl in any place you don't want to burn to the ground.

The plant behind the scene is Lovage number 2. Crow for scale.

April 15, 2012

I just don't want them to eat you.

Multiple barrier methods to keep the birds from eating the newly planted radish, carrot and lettuce seeds. Plastic crow for intimidation.

In the past few days I have planted Purple Haze and Scarlet Nante carrots, French Breakfast, Easter Egg and Watermelon radishes, and Red Deer Tongue and Frisee lettuce. Hopefully (likely!) in 4-6 weeks there will be rooftop salads in the restaurant downstairs. Because lettuce seeds are usually scratched and patted into the soil surface instead of planted (they like to germinate in light, and at temperatures in between 40-75 degrees Fahrenheit), they are most vulnerable to our avian opportunists. Background of lower photo shows multiple bins of hop vines that were established in 2011. The vines are already 1 foot high.

The tree in the chive bin is a Cedar!

Thank you for identifying this Jonas (Ecoman).The best part about this is that there are no cedar trees within sight of the roof, and the seed must have blown in from who knows where. I find it interesting that companies like Monsanto can claim that a buffer zone of 660 feet will prevent any and all cross contamination in between their GMO seeds and organic crops. Fortunately for them, they excel at ignoring science, reality, and the large series of islands known as Hawaii that were once nothing but volcanic rock.

April 12, 2012

Lots going on in the chive bin - April 09/2012

The green tangle you see at the top of the photo are baby chives. These shoots are the spring run from a chive bin that was established in 2010, but every other form of plant life you see showed up on it's own. I don't know what kind of baby conifer tree is in the lower left corner, but I do know the wee red floppy plant behind it is a variety of lettuce known as Red Deer Tongue. I looked into, "where moss comes from,?" online and apparently its 400-500 million years old. It totally must have blown in as a spore, or the spore was already in the soil when it was delivered to us. Instead of roots it has, "rhizoids," tiny hair-thin filaments that anchor the moss to the soil. And it gets everything it needs to live from the air and water. Whoa. Sharpie for scale.

April 8, 2012

Lovage 1 on April 08, 2012. established 2010

Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is a tall perennial plant, the sole species in the genus Levisticum, in the family Apiaceae. In 2010 we established two plants for Matt Demille (our sous chef at the time), who was obsessed with the plant and found it hard to find in Toronto markets. Its flavor and smell is very similar to celery, but with more depth. It has been described by staff as tasting, "fancy," and "expensive." The leaves and grated roots can be used in salads, or to make soup, and the roots can be eaten whole as a vegetable.

Lovage tea can be applied to wounds as an antiseptic, and drunk to stimulate digestion. The seeds can be used as a spice, similar to fennel seeds, and In the UK, an alcoholic lovage cordial is traditionally mixed with brandy in the ratio of 2:1 as a winter drink.

The Fundraiser/spend some time in a ground level garden to support one on a rooftop.

We are heading into our third year researching the variables that make a pop-up, for-profit rooftop farm/restaurant relationship possible, and although we have figured out how to create a job during the production season, we can still use your help to support the farm set-up. The funds will also go to development and documentation of low-cost connected irrigation systems, solar fuel experiments, plantings for pollinators, compost and seeds from Urban Harvest.

On April 09 Jamie Kennedy, Victoria Taylor, Parts and Labour Chef Matty Matheson and Rooftop Gardener Katie Mathieu will be hosting a tequila and taco fundraiser in a secret backyard location. The tickets are 50$ a person, and include beer from Bellwoods Brewery, Tequila beverages concocted by Jamie and Victoria, Pork and chicken tacos by Matty, a fire-pit and a sauna made out of a shipping container.

You can contact Katie at kjrmathieu@yahoo.com, or 416-722-6947 to reserve tickets. Thank you for supporting our research!

April 7, 2012

Hops survived their first (mild) winter in containers.

The return of the Chinook hops. Three varieties of hops were established on the roof in 2011 by Bellwoods Brewery as part of their City Hops Project. This variety was grown in a 36 litre rubbermaid container filled with lightweight potting mix and compost. We drilled drainage holes in the bottom of the bin, and around the sides one inch up from the base. All of the hop bins were insulated over the winter with a maple leaf mulch (salvaged from a neighbour pals yard), and then the bins were bundled in tarps which were weighted down with boards and bricks. We weren't sure if the vines would make it through the winter in containers, and even though this mild winter didn't really kick the stuffing out of anything, it still feels exciting to see them come back.

The next phase is choosing which of the multiple shoots (suckers?) is the strongest/most likely to succeed and cut the rest back. I'm hoping the vines will not only pass last years length of 20 feet, but will also get chubby sideways, width is a sign of a strong mature vine. Wish them luck! We are all excited to see what the small batch of P@L beer is going to taste like.

The return of the mojito mint

Wecome back mint. We'll see you in the fundraiser cocktails on the 9th!