Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Spring 2013 - (Page 22)

PLANT PROFILE tHe edible Roof: tomatoes and collaRd gReens IN EACH ISSUE WE pROfILE A GREEN ROOf OR WALL pLANT, ExpLORING ITS BIOLOGy, USES AND pREfERENCES By: MARGUERITE WELLS T he past couple of years have seen a surge in interest in growing food on roofs. Two food roofs have received a GRHC Award of Excellence in the past two years, and many more mixed-use roofs have raised beds and easy access for residents. I want to use this space to explore two of my favorite vegetables for any garden, roof, wall or otherwise. TOMATOES The “vegetable” that seems to ignite the most passion in gardeners is tomatoes. Every gardener has a favorite variety; a memory of the tomatoes they ate in their grandparent’s garden; or a special collection of seeds they’ve been saving for generations. A sun-ripened tomato with a few grains of salt might as well be manna from heaven for tomato aficionados. Tomatoes are technically fruit, of course, being the seed-bearing body of reproduction for the plant. However you classify them, they do well in containers, raised beds, walls, or even hanging upside down from the edge of the roof. They thrive on roofs, because they like heat and full sun, and good air circulation prevents foliar diseases. Tomatoes are members of the plant family Solanaceae— they are related to peppers, potatoes, eggplant, tomatillos and the deadly nightshade weeds. A close look at the flowers of all these plants reveals their common heritage. Medicinally, the red pigment in tomatoes—lycopene—has received plenty of attention in recent years as a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene capsules are sold as dietary supplements. Tomatoes come in two distinct growth habits. The first is called indeterminate, meaning that the plant will keep growing in height for the entire growing season. Given a long season, they can reach ten feet long or more. This gives them a long fruiting season, as it is the new growth that produces flowers and fruit. By contrast, determinate varieties reach a certain height and stop growing. Some are markedly dwarf, while others are taller. This results in a short, heavy fruiting season for the plant, since it sets its entire season of flowers and fruit at roughly the same time. Determinate varieties are more convenient for container gardens where small stature is important. In either case, the plants need to be staked or put in cages to keep them upright, need natives? sedum plugs or cuttings? mats, tiles or modules? motherplants

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Spring 2013

Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Spring 2013
From The Founder
On the Roof With...
Policy and Standards
Current Research
Living Architecture Meets Hurricane Sandy
How Healthy Is Your Hospital?
New Corporate Members
Professional Calendar
GRHC Board Member Updates
GRHC Buyer’s Guide
The Lucky 7

Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Spring 2013