Friday, July 06, 2007
It is surprising that I have made it all the way to 29 without having my own garden considering the gardening gene that must have been passed down from my mother. My post college years have been marked by a pronounced laziness which often makes it difficult for me to get it together in May for a garden in July but this year I applied my well honed project manager skills to growing things and I'm delighted with the results.
For my first foray into the urban garden I started some dahlia bulbs and zinnia seeds in planters on the fire escape outside of my bedroom window. The zinnias jumped right up within a few days and I was immediately hooked on my garden project. Zinnias really are the best starter flower ever. They're easy to grow and quick to deliver pretty bouquets. I'm already enjoying vases full of flowers in the bedroom and living room and the blooms last about 2 weeks which seems to be about the amount of time required for the cut flowers to "come again." The plants are also amazingly forgiving when I forget to water them, which happens roughly twice a week, luckily their 2 day droop turns back to perk within 30 minutes of showering.
It is highly likely that gardening is giving me a bit of a God complex -- I cannot get over how magical it feels when a little seed turns into a plant! I quickly added to my Eden by purchasing 2 tomato plants and a basil bush at the Union Square Farmer's Market and soon had my own little baby jungle. In May I spent a number of Sunday mornings curled up on a cushion among the foliage with a popsicle and my laptop looking forward to a flower filled summer. Sadly the dahlias never raised their heads above the soil -- I blame inferior Home Depot bulb product -- so a few weeks ago I filled that second planter with more zinnia seeds and added some nasturtium and morning glory seeds to the backs of both planters in hopes of a vine and flower covered fence come mid August.
The tomato plants fast out grew the fire escape and in mid June were relocated to the roof outside of my kitchen window. This relocation is perhaps the best idea I've ever had as it facilitates just picked tomatoes without leaving the kitchen. It also makes my general laziness less likely to result in parched plants since the sink is now located 4 feet from the very demanding and spoiled tomatoes. Watering the plants does, unfortunately, still require being sort of outside, which usually requires getting dressed. I slack off as much as possible on that last rule so if you're in Astoria some weekday around 7:30am you can enjoy the site of me leaning out the window trying to hide the fact that I'm only wearing a tank top and underwear.
My Brandywine tomato has already given me two babies, both of which were delicious. The fact that I have tomatoes to eat in early July serves as proof that little Miss Brandywine is a raging slut. back in May when she was only a foot tall and yet to graduate to a big girl bed she was already taking the party to the bees. I was a naive new mother who didn't expect blossoms until the plant was at least 2 feet tall so I missed the obvious signs of teenage pregnancy and called my own mother (Grandma Brandywine) in a panic over having already failed at gardening only 3 weeks in. Mom advised me to leave the babes on the vine but to also begin plucking any blossoms until the plant was at least 2 feet tall -- this birth control method was much more labor intensive than I was prepared for, if only they made tomato chastity belts. I also have a cherry tomato plant who, I'm happy to report, is on the path to riotousness and is clearly embarrassed by the brazenness of her sister. At an impressive 3 feet tall she has only recently begin putting out a few demure little buds so there are no cherry tomatoes to munch on yet.
It's possible that come the heavy tomato season in August I will be buried in fruit and complaining about all of the tomato sauce that must be made and frozen before it all goes bad but for now I'm a happy urban Farmer McGregor, bunnies beware.