Maybe not quite a bounty, but exciting nonetheless. Harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, beets, ground cherries, bok coy, kale, and swiss chard. The first few cucumbers and eggplants were quite bitter, but the latest round was great. I suspect a squash beetle or something similar killed the zucchini plant. This weekend, I planted more greens as well Brussels sprouts, more beets, and garbanzo beans.
One of the pepper plants (lower right on the left photo) is lagging behind. Charentais melon (right) is fruiting.
Heirloom tomatoes and cucumber line the railing.
Saturday was like Christmas morning. I woke much earlier than normal, trying not to stir my husband. Sipped coffee. Inspected the stacks of planters outside the window. Paced a little. Caught up on the pile of New York Times. Back to the planters. Finally, the sun seeped through the seams of highrises across Broadway.
Let the planting begin.
In some ways, the dream of a city garden began late last summer. In one of those “right place at the right time” scenarios, Ryan and I scored an affordable apartment in the Hudson Heights neighborhood of Manhattan with a sizable terrace.
After months of reading countless library books, blogs, and articles, I came up with a plan to suit the space. The heirloom seeds came in January and I started some indoor seedlings, like the fennel and leeks pictured above. Over the last couple weeks, I’ve spent the early mornings bringing trays of seedlings outside to grow accustomed to the wind and temperature, and police sirens.
Ryan selected an assortment of 12-inch pots and box planters that we filled part-way with gravel. The soil is 1/3 organic compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 organic perlite. I hauled 80 pounds of compost on the subway from Union Square Greenmarket. Never again.
My dad helped me design three self-supporting ladder shelves to give the garden some height. Trellises are wired to each planter to protect them from wind gusts. In a week or so, tomatoes and peppers will line the 14-inch pots along the railing.
In the ground:
Early purple sprouting broccoli
Eggplant (probably too soon)
Cosmic purple carrot
Tall telephone peas
Morning glory and moonflower
Herbs, tomatoes, peppers, squash and more to come. If the suspense is killing you, click here to get updates via email.
The seeds are actually growing. Well, not all of them… A couple of leeks didn’t make it. Same goes for the eggplant and peppers. However, the tomatoes, ground cherries, and artichoke are off to a good start. I’ve moved the seedlings from the sweaty egg carton into a 4-inch pot. The pots now rest in a large pan, receiving water from below to encourage root growth. From what I’ve read, the plants should also get 15 hours of light to prevent “legginess.” I don’t have space for the recommended florescent bulbs, but I’ve gone with a smaller grow light that claims to do the same thing.
For good measure, I’ve also planted another set of peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, artichoke, and leeks using smelly peat pellets. I hear this is what all of the gardeners are using.
In addition to a trillion blog posts and YouTube videos, I’ve found these books helpful:
The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible by Edward C. Smith
Continuous Container Gardens by Sara Begg Townsend and Roanne Robbins
Your Farm in the City by Lisa Taylor
Growing a Farmer by Kurt Timmermeister
Any tips? Recommendations?