Monday, September 5, 2016

Green Roof Update - Late Summer 2016

  It's high time for a Project Happy Life green roof update.  And, while going through the pictures I've taken this season, I found a bunch of good ones that I'd like to share.  So, in chronological order, here's what has been going on in this, the 4th growing season of our Brooklyn green roof.

Spring always brings a blanket of flowers to the green roof, although which species of sedum blossoms the most has changed over the years.  This year, we hardly had any of the tall blue-green sedum plants blossom.  They would make buds, and then it looked like the ants would get them.  Here, however, is a shot of the shorter sedum in bloom along with a couple of sage volunteers that seeded themselves in that spot last year.  I wish I liked using the sage as much as it likes to grow.


Here's some of that happy sage parent plant.  I love the color of those blossoms!


The strawberries in the Woolly Pocket are still doing well.  And, because we've had fewer squirrels on the roof so far this year, we've gotten to eat a lot more of what we're growing.  But all is not well, as you'll see later on...

A wide shot for you.  I've tried a couple of times to get peas to grow up the railing from those copper planters above the strawberries, but they never make it.  I think the soil is too poor and the railing gets too hot.  Next year, I'm going to fix that soil up (I've been composting like crazy, which is another story for another day) and give them some string to climb on.

For the first time, last year I planted some flowers on the green roof, and the bachelor buttons have been re-seeding themselves and spouting in some spectacular colors (last year, we just had blue and white).

I also experimented with planting a purple coneflower (echinacea) last year, and it came back really well this year.  There are even some seedlings starting in a couple of other spots on the roof now!

I had the opportunity to try my hand at stone carving when I was in school this past Spring semester.  I made a little addition for the green roof that we see as we're coming out of the hatch.

The berry production was prolific this year.  We had red strawberries, alpine strawberries, blueberries, and black raspberries.  For a while, our breakfasts could not have been beaten by the finest restaurants in the world.

Blueberry glamour shot.

We have had some spectacular skies over Brooklyn this year too.  We have had two double rainbows.

Some incredibly colorful sunsets:

Beautiful cloud formations:

And even a night when we could see the full moon in one direction,

And a lightning storm in the other direction.

As the summer has worn on, a lot of the bachelor buttons have dried out.  I can already see the next generation sprouting, though.  One neat thing I hadn't expected when I made the redwood planters last year was how many things would grow out of the sides of the planters.  In this shot, you can see some of the bachelor buttons even did it!

Two days ago, I even found a mushroom growing out of the side of one of the planters!

While I'll steer clear of eating that mushroom, we've had some nice harvests this year.  Our summer crops have consisted mainly of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and carrots.



But I also planted some of the little "Rich Sweetness 132" melons from seed I saved last year.  They've been doing well.  I like how they echo the cucumbers strips in a different color palate.

I'm growing my first crop of onions, and they appear to be doing well.  I started these from some little green onions that my neighbors put in their compost, because they were a little wilted.  I stuck them in water, and they sprouted roots.  So I transplanted them to the roof in the early spring.  I saw a youtube video that recommended cutting the tops back to encourage bulb formations, so that's why they've been lopped off.

I'm also experimenting with growing crops right in the sedum.  I've got a couple of collards and cabbage plants in there.  There used to be four of each, but I'm having a problem...

Doves, mockingbirds, or robins are digging up the sedum!  They're practically mowing it down - ripping up big clumps and tossing the clumps into the drainage rock.  In the process, I've lost some of the collards and cabbage seedlings.  I'm not quite sure what to do about it; I assume they're eating some grubs or something.  But they sure do make a mess!!  There's a walking path buried under the sedum clippings the birds have made in this shot.

I've noticed that our mint blossoms are being visited by a bunch of black and orange wasps that I've never seen before.  They don't linger, so I couldn't get a great picture of them, so here's an excellent picture from bugguide.net.  They're called "blue-winged wasps" or scolia dubia, a wasp that preys on Japanese beetle grubs.  I'm guessing these wasps' presence supports my grub theory about those birds. 

No matter what the reason is the birds are tearing up the sedum, at least it'll make it easier to plant more crops on the main "lawn" of the green roof next year!  It's always so hard to think of pulling up the sedum to make room for other things when it's covered in little flowers in the spring.

Anyway, in case there's any doubt, the green roof continues to be my favorite place to be.

6 comments:

  1. Hi, where is your house? A neighbor who had solar panels said the fire department requires a 6 foot aisle in the middle of the roof in NYC.

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    1. Hi Ainslie, we're in PLG, Brooklyn. The green roof was installed with a DOB permit and passed inspection. I don't believe the 6' aisle rule would apply to this situation, as opposed to the solar panels, because there's nothing obstructing the path to the hatch other than the health of the sedum plants (they don't liked to be walked on), which would be pretty unimportant in a fire situation.

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