I included two rooftop gardens in Backyard Roots and was curious about the downtown San Francisco rooftop garden at the Chronicle ever since I heard about it. When the chance came up to visit it I jumped. Editorial assistant Kim Gomes is also the gardener and she showed me around. It’s her “green sanctuary” she said, up above the hustle and bustle of the city below. It attracts a lot of birds including hummingbirds. They have two thriving hives despite the fact there is not a lot of greenery to be seen nearby. The plants get full sunlight and a lot of wind so they are watered with a drip irrigation system ten minutes a day. Pests are few and easier to control on an isolated rooftop, although Kim says she still can’t figure out how the snails made it up there.
The garden is a place to experiment with plants and growing methods. One of the latest is a potato growing bag called a Potato Planter bag that has drainage hoes and two flaps at the bottom to retrieve the potatoes. She adds compost to the plants weekly. The potatoes grow faster in the solar warmed grow bag and the bag is a great rooftop option especially if you don’t have much space. Harvest is easy and fast, just open the flap.
Another successful newcomer are the evergreen strawberries she’s planted this year. They are planted in containers all over the roof, but I loved the pallet planter. She said to make the planter she simply stapled landscaping material on 5 sides and then filled with dirt. After planting the strawberries and letting them get established she tilted the pallet up vertically. She did the same technique for a succulent garden. For step by step instructions for the pallet planter and other planter diy planter ideas check the SF Gate article she wrote here.