Urban Gardening

  • Brooklyn,  Green is Gezellig,  Urban Gardening

    2011 vs. 2012

    Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post on how much gardening envy had taken over my life — and while the post closed with me saying, “I guess I’ll keep reading stuff and looking at stuff when I can and maybe next year…? No, definitely next year,” I didn’t really believe it.

    I said it because it sounded better than admitting I would probably forget all about it or just go through the same garden envy/lust combo again the next year (and probably for years to come, for all I knew).

    I did not —I could not — imagine that within a year I would be presenting a workshop on how to gain access to land for community gardening, which is exactly what I was doing this past Saturday at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s annual Making Brooklyn Bloom conference.

    It was fun and frankly exhausting. For an introvert like me, meeting dozens of new people and giving a presentation and answering questions to a roomful of people is on a par with… maybe not a marathon, but at least a 10K run.

    But I did it — and I still got up the next day, went to the garden and hauled wheelbarrows full of topsoil around, finally filling in my garden plot and getting it ready to plant.

    Hello, spring.
  • Urban Gardening

    Forbidden Fruit (and Vegetables)

    Oh, sure — it all began simply enough.

    A friend became a fan of Hudson Valley Seed Library on Facebook. I wonder what that is, I thought, and clicked over to check it out. A small, regionally-based seed company with heirloom varieties (including my pet favorite, the Danvers carrot)? I couldn’t click “Like” fast enough.

    It could have ended there. It should have ended there, to become just one of those things I clicked “Like” on and then never looked at again — like OK Soda or Kate Bush’s Voice Quite Frankly Gives Me the Willies.

    But no.

    I kept browsing the Hudson Valley Seed Library’s website. “Researching Christmas gifts,” I said, which was true because I bought someone a gift membership, but I didn’t stop after Christmas came and went.

    I’d poke around and find something like ground cherries and start thinking about growing them myself.

    “They’re ground cherries,” I would tell people who asked. “They taste a bit like pineapple. Here, try one.”

    When a new semester started in January, I found that redirected my attention for the most part… right up until a couple weeks ago.

    First, phrases like “seed trays” and “tomato varieties” started popping up in my Facebook news feed. Then, a friend directed my attention to the Take Back Urban Home-steading(s). That led to me discovering at least a half-dozen new blogs about people’s efforts at gardening in a small, (sub)urban space.

    And then, this past Saturday, I was on a neighborhood reconnaissance mission, scouting out parts of Brooklyn, when I saw this. Bushwick City Farm. Nestled between two buildings, a lot filled with raised vegetable beds and chickens (CHICKENS) and a couple of ducks (DUUUUCKS!).

    Standing there, peering through the chain link fence (although one of the volunteers invited us in, which was super nice of her, but we were really just passing by)… and that was it for me. Complete, full-blown gardening envy has taken hold of my life.

    I spent an hour yesterday looking at a website of tomato varieties. (Did you know there’s a variety from Russia named for blacklisted American Communist actor/singer/activist Paul Robeson? There totally is one! It’s said to be delicious!) I spent more time this morning looking at fruit trees and berry plants for sale. (Surprisingly reasonable prices!) I’m sure this afternoon with have me looking at chicken coop designs or shopping for asparagus crowns for sale or some other frigging thing I have absolutely no use for.

    So. What’m I going to do about this burning desire to grow something? I really don’t know. I have the rest of a semester of school plus moving to a new apartment ahead of me — I don’t have a lot of time in the next couple months to do much else. I guess I’ll keep reading stuff and looking at stuff when I can and maybe next year…?

    No, definitely next year.


    Links to blogs/other resources (some of which I already mentioned):
    Bushwick City Farm
    Sustainable Flatbush
    Take Back Urban Home-steading(s)
    Brooklyn Homesteader
    Hudson Valley Seed Library