Friday, May 28, 2010

Roof Top Graden (Step two)

Roof Top Garden...

Last year about this time we threw around the idea of creating a garden on our roof top at the hotel to produce some herbs and tomatoes. Being chefs, there's a certain fulfillment in not only understanding a product from seed to harvest, but also seeing product make it all the way out to a guest's table as well. We had some decent results last year, but more so learned a lot about what we needed to do this year in order to be more successful.

This year the process has been a lot more involved, and started with some friends of the restaurant working on four 3'x4'x1' beds for us to fill up. Our engineering department set up protective mats and weight dividers for us as well so as not to damage our roof top. Next thing we knew we got the okay from all the powers that be and it was off to Home Depot to haul the 1400lbs of dirt it would require to fill our beautifully hand crafted beds. Once that dirt got in there, you could feel this little bit of excitement in everyone, ideas churning with the endless possibilities of what we could grow. While the kitchen was daydreaming about heirloom veggies and herbs, our engineering department was creating an irrigation system taking water run off from the hotel's air conditioning system and running it down to our summer project. We were all amazed at the amount of water we were able to gather, and thankful that they made watering so easy for us.

Now comes the fun part. We still had the pots from last year, and filled two with tomatoes and devoted one to chives which we hope will come back perrenialy. One bed was devoted to our sister restaurant in the hotel, Bradstreet, where Chef Jesse hopes to become self sufficient with arugula. He's off to a great start with two rows of sprouts, and just planted another row yesterday. Another one of our beds was filled with veggies of all sorts including kholrabi, banana peppers, fennel, radishes, and we even slipped two watermelon plants in there while crossing our fingers. Our other two beds we focused on various herbs that we'll be able to harvest continually throughout the summer, hopefully becoming a little more self sufficient. We've got both purple and regular basil, mint, dill, marjoram, and of course nasturtium. We've developed a fondness for nasturtium over the years, and use it quite frequently for it's nice peppery flavor, and it's bright and flavorful flowers are used for garnish quite often. We also planted a row of cucumbers in our sunniest bed with the idea of setting up a trellace to create a little shade. Those cucumbers by the way, have already sprouted, and and are steadily growing everyday.

We're very proud of what our roof top project has become and look forward to sharing it with all of our guests at the hotel. Even though we're still at the sprout stage, there's a certain excitement in knowing the process has begun, and in a few short weeks we'll be putting the fruits of our labors onto a plate. It should also be said that this project would not have been possible without the support of the rest of the hotel. Our engineering department has been incredibly helpful in ensuring we go about this in the most correct and safest way possible, and without our irrigation system we'd still be breaking our backs hauling stock pots of water back and forth. Our executive commitee has been supportive also, and without there guidance and approval we'd still be working with just those three pots. It's also great to see the support from the rest of the hotel employees, asking if they can go see, offering gardening tips, and their excitement adds to our own.

So if you couldn't tell from this novel, we're a little excited over here at the Graves 601 Hotel, and encourage all interested to join in our excitement. We'll try to keep the updates and pictures coming!

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