Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Reading List 2011 (à la Green City Growers)

The dog days of summer are currently in full swing. While that means that we at Green City Growers have had our hands full (and I mean that literally; I've picked plenty of zucchini over the last few weeks that are the length of my forearm), it's that time of the year when folks travel to new places, hit the beach, or maybe have a little stay-cation at home. If you've already read your share of Michael Pollan and want some other good food-related books, you can read...

Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit (Barry Estabrook)
Okay, so maybe the title and the topic aren't exactly cheerful, and maybe you don't want to read about something so morose when you're trying to enjoy some extended downtime. But this book was featured on NPR a few weeks ago and has been getting rave reviews from publications like the New York Times and prominent foodies like Jacques Pepin, so clearly there's something about this book that's resonating with someone out there. Estabrook explores the production of the tomato that you could find in your average American supermarket, and looks at the nutritional, environmental, and social problems that the tomato industry has created. Taking extra special care of those tricky heirlooms in your backyard might look like a mighty fine option after reading this book.

Weeds: In Defense of Nature's Most Unloved Plants (Richard Mabey)
Not to be confused with the popular Showtime series, Weeds is all about the roles weeds have played in our histories around the world and how they continue to affect us today. While Mabey isn't claiming that weeds are pure rainbows and sunshine that can do no wrong, he explores how weeds work and how they've impacted our lives from a variety of angles, including the ways they've actually helped us and how we need them. (But please don't hate us for pulling weeds out of your garden when they get to be overwhelming.)

Plan Bee: Everything You Wanted to Know about the Hardest-Working Creatures on the Planet (Susan Brackney)
Most of us at GCG are not expert beekeepers, but we're big fans of bees and how their work makes our job easier and more productive. Plan Bee is great because it accessibly discusses how bee colonies are structured, the work that bees do, the basics of beekeeping, and some of the problems bees are facing nowadays. And it talks about how bees are important for fruit and vegetable production!

Are there any foodie books out there that you like in particular? We love book suggestions, so hit us up at our Facebook page and feel free to post a food-related book that you've been digging recently.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tomato explosion!

It's the beginning of tomato season, and every time I swing by a garden I haven't seen in a few days, it seems like the tomato plants have exploded and been producing fruit like crazy. (The cherry tomato plants around the office have been doing particularly well, and I've been guilty on snacking on more than a few while working out there. Job perks, right?)

Beefsteak tomatoes in their baby phase

A Valencia tomato, which is ready for pickin' because of its orange skin

Although tomatoes are not the most difficult crop to grow and take care of, they tend to need a little more TLC than hardier crops like salad greens and radishes. Trellising tomatoes is key if you want to easily see the plant's development and keep pests at bay, so don't forget to tie up your tomatoes regularly as they grow. Sprinkling eggshells into the soil around them keeps them healthy and strong because the tomatoes benefit from eggshells' calcium. Pulling off suckers, or the branches that grow at a 45 degree angle between the main stem and the branches that grow perpendicular to the stem (especially on lower branches), is important because the plant can then direct more energy to the flowers and eventually fruit. And if you have access to compost tea, be sure to spray it generously all over your tomato plants, as compost tea can give your plant an extra boost with fighting off nasty diseases such as blight, which can really hurt tomato plants and is difficult to reverse.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Inturnip

Hey there!

I'm Marta and I'm the horticultural intern (the inturnip?) around Green City Growers this summer. I love earthworms and brassicas and spending my summer days o
utside rummaging around through soil, so it's no surprise that I've been having so much fun and learning a ton from this internship.

(Beets aren't in the brassica genus but I appreciate them nonetheless)

For the next few weeks, I will regularly post (the many) photos, stories, and tips that I've accumulated during my internship with GCG. Stay tuned!