Showing posts with label Green Roof. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Green Roof. Show all posts

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Green Roof and Garden Update early May 2014

Yesterday was a big day for us up on Ye Ole Green Roofe.  A reporter named Kena Vernon from News 12 Brooklyn came and did a story on the project.  She was a very nice lady, and as long as you don't get your internet through Verizon (due to some weird corporate war), you can see the story they aired at this link.

Since my last update (in early April), I bought and hauled a bunch of potting soil up to the roof and filled some of the fabric pots (from a company called Root Pouch) we're going to use this year.  It feels very weird to be paying for dirt, but in the Big City, dirt isn't actually dirt cheap.  Besides, you can't use just regular dirt for container gardening - it's moisture retention is all wrong, and it gets too compact for the plants to develop good roots.

Anyway, here's a wide shot so you can see both how green the sedum are getting as well as where I put some of the pots.  I put big ones (15 gallon) for pumpkins and squashes next to the sitting area.

And there are two different sizes of smaller pots (7 and 10 gallon) on the parapet wall.

The potting soil came from a big pallet of bags of soil at Kings County Nursery.  Big chunks of the bags were still frozen from the Winter when I brought them home.

 Every time I bring a bunch of heavy stuff up the ladder to the roof, I remember the 55 pounds per square foot of green roof load for which we're approved, and I think, "This is the last heavy stuff I'm going to bring up there."  I wonder when that's going to be true?

A picture of dirt in pots isn't all that exciting, but when you contrast my neighbor's black asphalt roof on the left with our green roof on the right, you can sort of imagine a better world, which is very exciting indeed.

I've had a revelation about the stump stools: They're uncomfortable.  I'm going to repurpose them into firewood and make some chairs that are lighter-weight and actually pleasant to sit upon.  Until then, the stump stools also make uncomfortable sawhorses.  What on earth would I be sawing up there, you might ask?  Well, I've finally started putting the wooden handrails on the tops of the metal railings.  I'll write about that in a separate post.

As for the back yard, we've got daffodils.

And these little purple flowers have started blooming all over our "lawn".  They're a native violet. Some people will tell you they're a type of pansy.  I'll tell YOU who is a type of pansy...

Speaking of natives, this type of plant is called "May Apple".  They're rhyozomatic, and they produce a little edible fruit, from which I'm told one can make a nice custard.  

Although they're called May Apples, apparently their fruit won't be ready until July.  You can see the green bud for the flower that will turn into the fruit between these two leaves:

Also in the native, rhyozomatic, and edible category, we've got a couple of ramps coming up!  I got some more from Good Eggs this week, so we'll chop the rooty ends off and plant them as well.  Maybe in a few years, we'll have enough of our own ramps growing to make a whole meal's worth!  Such goals!

Is it weird to be so excited about ramps that I'm including two pictures?

For pure native decoration, we've got two colors of "Bleeding Hearts" blooming.

We've also got Peaches McNugget - our feral cat, sitting on the chair.  Ignore the dead body under the tarp in the background.  That's actually our christmas tree waiting to be burned in the fire pit, and I wanted to keep it dry...  You'll also notice a ton of dandelion flowers in the yard.  I don't bother weeding anymore.

And the blossoms on the honeycrisp apple tree turned white and opened up.  Here's my cue to practice non-attachment to things.  If I'm not careful, the squirrels will eat our apples, and I'll have murderous thoughts about the squirrels.

Speaking of pansies, here's a couple of beauties:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Quick Project - Sprucing up the Tree Pit

Here's a quicky, "Look What I Did" sort of post.

Last year, when I cut the sedum mat out to place bluestone slabs on the roof to make a sitting area, I didn't throw the sedum mat pieces away.  Here's the only photo I have of that process.

I tossed all the sedum mat chunks overboard (aka - into the backyard) and laid them out on the cement in the back yard for the winter.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them, but I didn't want them to be wasted.

Well, a few months ago, the city put these new railing things around the tree pits on our block, and they removed the old cobblestones that were in there since long before I moved in to this house.  They also made the tree pits wider, presumably so more water could get to the trees.  But the barren dirt sort of gave the impression of a wasteland, and it was a magnet for trash.  Here's a shot of what it looked like after I picked the trash out.

For context, here's my little front yard full of ephemerals that are almost done blooming.  I hope to replace our chain link fence with something that mimics the green roof railing one day.

Anyway, back to the tree pit.  I decided to make that my target for the left over sedum mats.  But I didn't want the plants to get squashed by people getting in and out of their cars.  So, first I carved out a strip of dirt along the curb to make a landing spot for people's feet.  The tree roots were too close to the curb in the middle, though, so I didn't carry my strip of bricks all the way across.

I found a MONSTER earth worm under the sedum mats in the back yard.  I'm sure you want to see a video of it, so I'll oblige:

Out front, I watered the dirt, tried to push as much of the fine stuff in between the bricks as I could, stomped it all down, and laid the sedum mat pieces in place.  It turns out, I had the exact right amount to do the whole tree pit.  Once I had them all in place, I watered them some more.  

So, there you have it.  A nice, spruced-up tree pit (even though it's a maple tree that's growing there) for our neighborhood to enjoy.  The sedum are native to this area, and they shouldn't need me to water them once they're established.  They'll also send up really pretty flowers within a month or two.

Ta da!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Green Roof and Garden Update. Early April 2014

Hi Everybody!  It's time for an update on the Green Roof, but stuff is starting to happen in the terrestrial gardens too, so you get 3 for the price of one.  Here's Cindy in her down jacket and flip-flops (that's "slippahz" to you Hawaiians).  In one hand, she's holding a jar of dried rosemary that we pulled off last year's plant, and she's pointing out the new greenery in the sedum with the other!

On the advice of my cousin-in-law, Michelle, and because I don't have enough time to build all the planter boxes I hope to have in the future, I'm experimenting with fabric pots this year.  I got the cheap, biodegradable kind.  They're supposedly only good for 3-5 years, so I'm considering it built-in "inspiration" to force me to make the permanent planters before too many years pass me by.

I've got 4 of the big ones lain out along the sitting area.  I have to go to the nursery and get some potting soil to round out the left over "engineered growing medium" I put in the bottoms of the pots to keep them from blowing away.

 Here's a shot of how the strawberries in the Woolly Pocket have survived the Winter.  Not bad, I'd say!  There was a mishap with the automatic drip timer and some of the related fittings (I didn't bring them indoors before the frost came), so I'm replacing the broken stuff and making some improvements.  I'll write about that when I have it connected, the errant leaks stopped, and the timer programed and working.  Anyway, you can see the ½" main water line and the ¼" drip feeder lines on the right of the Woolly Pocket.

Cindy's favorite: the creepy owl.  I only wish it scared the squirrels as much as it does me.

Speaking of squirrels, I think I'm going to have a lot of work to do this year to keep them out of my crops.  They seem to have undergone a population explosion.  The garlic I planted last Fall hasn't sprouted much (if at all), and I found one dried and chewed clove on the top of the soil.  I wonder if they all got pulled.  It was too disappointing to photograph.

Instead, here's the greening sedum with the little stone path.  You can see more fabric pots lined up on the parapet wall in the background. 

Now, downstairs in the front yard, things are starting to look like Spring.  We've got purple crocuses popping up.  Or is it "croci"?

Don't you just love how the crocus leaves sometimes spear straight through the dead tree leaves?

And then there are these things.  If you look carefully, you can see the left one has a dingy little white flower dangling above the leaves.  I think they're a native ephemeral plant, but I'm not sure what kind.    Solomon's Something-OIf you know for sure, please leave me a comment.

By the way, are you impressed that I know the horticultural term "ephemeral"?  I learned it last weekend in my two gardening classes from The Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Growing Food in the Shade; and Native Trees for Small Spaces.  It was a great way to spend the day.

One more Crocus glamour shot:

As for the back yard, I turned the compost today.  I'm eager to get as much finished compost out of the bin as possible, so I can take it up to the roof and put it in the fabric pots.  But it's too moist and not quite ready.  The good news is that it won't take long, because the worms have been more prolific than I have ever seen them!  Crocuses and red wigglers.  It's a yin/yang sort of thing, don't you think? 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Green Roof Update. Feb 25, 2014

Cindy and I went up to check out the state of the green roof after all the snow we've had.  It was a nice day on Sunday; we didn't even need to put on jackets!  In fact, here's Cindy goofing around.

I made this 2x4 and coat hanger TV antenna so we could watch the news during Hurricane Sandy.  I used to have it sticking out of the kitchen plumbing vent pipe, but CBS didn't come in very clearly at that elevation.  So I wired the antenna up higher for one of Cindy's football games, and it's working fine.  It is, however, not going to last much longer - look at all the rust!

And here are the strawberry plants.  There's still a lot of green on them, so I'm assuming they'll come back and start producing as soon as the weather gets consistently nicer.  That's the good news.  The bad  news in this picture is that the nails I used on the copper flashing for those planters are rusting.  I know I checked the box to see if they could be used on copper when I bought them, but either I made a mistake or I'VE BEEN HAD!

Also, I've been having a problem with water getting in under the roofing rubber that's covering the base of this railing upright.  It doesn't seem to be getting into the house (at least there hasn't yet been any evidence of moisture in the upstairs living room ceiling), but I don't want to risk that eventuality.  When I push the rubber down around that area, water bubbles come out at the bottom of that railing leg.  I'm pretty sure that's where the water gets in, too.  I'll have to seal that hole as soon as possible, but in the meanwhile, I cut a little slit to let the water that's trapped in there out.  

This is the state of last year's herbs.  I'm waiting to see if the rosemary and lavender come back.  I doubt the oregano will.

The hens and chicks are proliferating, but that one funky succulent that made the beautiful flowers last year seems not to have survived the snow.  Besides, the squirrels really loved to gnaw on it, so I won't be providing them that pleasure again.

Now, let's play a game.  It's called "Where's Garlic?" 

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Completed Green Roof Project Page is Up!

Here's the story of one of our favorite things: The Green Roof project.  If you're asking yourself why someone would want a green roof, I'll tell you.  First, it helps insulate your house.  Second, it helps reduce storm water run-off.  Third, it helps clean the air and reduce the heat island effect.  Fourth, it offers food for birds and pollinating insects.  And, of course, green roofs are the perfect place to hang out for humans too.

If you want to see how we installed our green roof system, check out the new

Here's a picture of Melvin under the covers.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Check out the new Roof Railing Project Page!

If you've spoken to Cindy or me at any time over the past two years, you're likely to have gotten an update about our green roof project.  It's one of my three favorite things, and I get pretty worked up about it.  A big part of Project Happy Life for me is working with my hands and fixing up this house.  The things that I make are also a big part of my education and self expression.  The green roof railing project was a huge undertaking, and I hope you enjoy reading about how it came together.

Click here to have a look.  Or you can click on the page link on the left hand side of this web site.

If you're not into that sort of thing, here's a picture of Cindy trespassing in Hawaii: