Last year when M and I had a sweet little container garden in our back yard. We grew 3 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, 2 varieties of heirloom eggplants, peppers, lettuce, kale, a failed attempt at squash and about a half dozen herbs. We gardened in containers both found a bought, fought off powdery mildew and white flies to the best of our abilities and felt proud of the fruits of our labor. This year in our separate and very equal apartments I find myself, quite naturally, in an apartment without a back yard and she’s in a great one with outdoor space. (Her kitty pees outside, mine does so indoors)
When I moved into my sweet little lopsided apartment last August I spotted the community garden literally across the street. It was that garden, the space and the super cheap rent that ultimately helped make my decision to move into my little slice of rented heaven in Bed Stuy. After the keys were secured I wandered over to the garden in the late summer to inquire about the plots. A sweet lady who I plan to adopt as my grandmother, Miss Pat, told me that the plots were taken for the season but that I was welcome to help her weed if I wanted. I didn’t make good on that promise but when New York City experienced highs of 80 degrees in early May I made my way over to Miss Pat’s building. As most old school New Yorkers do Miss Pat most often forgoes the telephone or text messaging for the more efficient yelling out the window. I noticed her brown wrinkled face at her window and threw on some jeans, a bra, and put a bandana around my unruly head of hair to make my case. She remembered me and more importantly she had vacant plots. I plopped down my $25 and Voila! I am the proud owner of a 4’x7′ slice of New York City heaven.
I got out there this morning to assess the soil and the rouge inhabitants. After pulling and digging out stubborn weeds and turning the soil for an hour I am proud to announce that I am the new Mama for 3 sick but fruiting strawberry plants, 3 mint seedlings about 6″ tall, and one fennel plant that I’m guessing (thanks to friends) is about 68 days old. In addition to my adopted finds I have amazing soil that’s alive-literally. I had to dig up and kill (sorry) a lot of larvae I’m sure are NOT baby ladybugs (good bugs) rather I’m sure they’re some sort of terror to the garden. The soil is a little clay heavy but it’s loose, cool to the touch, and with a little compost from M’s worms, it will be amazing.
On my fire escape sunning are my herbs which I’m still debating about location. I also purchased 3 varieties of pepper and am looking to get my hands on some peas, more eggplant, greens, and possibly a tomato plant or two. The Sage, Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Chives, Lavendar, and Oregano are happy in their temporary home, but I think a nice large space in the garden will be a better place for them. Except for the Lemon Balm. I’m transplanting my found mint and its cousin, Lemon Balm to a window box. Any gardener will tell you that those suckers have a mind and will not to be toyed with!
A grade school and high school friend commented on her Facebook page today that she was doing yard work and enjoying every minute of it. I commented back that I too, while not in a yard, found myself elbow deep dirt and felt completely Zen. It’s odd that 20 years ago I had to fight my parents to get out of weeding and today, at 30, it’s the most peace I’ve felt since Costa Rica.