Composting is one of those things I really wanted to try this summer, and just didn’t. My boyfriend is sort of a neat freak, and I was worried the rumored smell and bucket of hot garbage on the balcony would put him over the edge. I was also concerned about the space it might take up – you know, Brooklyn-sized apartment and everything. Of course all of my concerns could have been assuaged with just a little more research. As it turns out, composting is pretty clean, easy, and compact after all.
I recently interviewed Kate Zidar, of The North Brooklyn Compost Project (NBCP) to find out the whys and hows of composting in our neighborhood. Founded in 2004, the NBCP is a community-based effort that seeks to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill, as well as improves the soil used in backyards and container gardens around Brooklyn. They are a super organization, and as you will find out, they have a ton of information that will calm your (and my boyfriend’s) worries about composting.
Greenpointers: How does someone start composting?
NBCP: If you have any access to backyard space, starting a pile is easy. You just need a source of “browns” (brown, dry, carbon rich material like shredded newspaper or saw dust) to layer on top of your “greens” (fresh scraps from the kitchen). The leaf fall in October is a perfect opportunity to stock pile browns. To get going, I would recommend a workshop with the city – they are FREE!
Saturday 8/25: Urban Food Waste Workshop @ 3rd Ward (195 Morgan Ave) 10am-1pm, More info
Like any proper New Yorker, I am going to be away for the next six weekends of the summer. This is the hardest part of having a small, highly sensitive, needy garden — you have to make a choice about how worthwhile it is to have a friend come by to water it, when you aren’t getting any produce to begin with. My crops are just too temperamental, and simply not bountiful enough to devote another person’s time to. It’s like any one-sided relationship — at some point, you have to let go. Continue reading →
I was looking forward to yesterday’s storm, as my plants (and I), needed a little reprieve from the heat. It started rolling into Greenpoint around 3pm, and I moved some of the smaller plants with lighter pots inside for protection. Those winds were fierce!
The storm went on for a few hours, with shocking claps of thunder and loud bursts of lightning. Henry the cat, the brave little that dude he is, sat watch on the kitchen table.
A glimmer of sunshine arrive around 6pm, and it remained calm for the rest of the evening. Continue reading →
I did a post a while back about all the other farms in Brooklyn that I was planning on visiting this summer. While I have been slacking on that a little, I did get out of town this weekend and managed to swing by a place that is pretty inspiring for any small space gardener.
Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, Massachusetts was nothing more than a tiny farm stand when I was a kid, but now it is a flourishing 4H with a giant greenhouse, a fully stocked store, and more baby sheep than you can shake a stick at (please don’t shake a stick at them).
I am a total softy, and I die for baby animals. My partner and I spent 45 minutes feeding the cows and goats and lambs grain pellets and trying to talk sheep with them. It was totally magical in a way that is hard to find some days in New York.
On our way out I spotted a Charlie Brown-style blueberry bush, and knew it had to be mine. It is now out on the balcony, adjusting to the sounds of McGuinness Boulevard, and the slightly smoggier air of our dear city.
Have you gotten out of town recently? What are some fun, farm/garden day trips I should take?
In my post-college life, my favorite leafy green substance has to be basil. I seriously cannot get enough of it. I put that shiz on everything!
Last week I did a major overhaul of the garden and decided to sow some seeds that seemed to be flourishing on my balcony. I now have the beginnings of what just might be more basil than I know what to do with.
Maybe I should start a small business?
Do you have any plants that are doing particularly well? I want to hear your success stories!
If I’ve learned anything about small scale gardening in the last 15 weeks, its that you really do get what you give. This past weekend I attacked my garden for a few hours, pruning and weeding, and saying goodbye to some bolting radish plants and sad looking lettuce. It was a rewarding process, as now my garden is in tip top shape.
I now know which plants really thrive in the space/light I give them — summer squashes, basil, kale, and sunflowers. I decided that I can never have too much basil, so I combined some of my squash plants in a larger container, and used their old pots to plant some more of the delicious green stuff (pesto for days!).
I also did a fair bit of harvesting, which I cooked up that same night in the style of a salad from my beloved Anella. All fresh, all local, all totally grown by me. It was truly a beautiful thing.
Are you eating anything from your garden yet? I want to hear all about it!
Summer literally just began and already it’s a scorcher! My balcony garden has seen it’s fair share of extreme weather in the past 14 weeks, but I still wanted to make sure that I was doing everything I could to preserve my multitude of squashes and newly sprouting cilantro.
Here are some of the best tips I found:
Water early in the morning or in the evening to avoid evaporation.
Increase the shade or even move some of your more sensitive plants indoors if you can.
Weed often so the plants save their energy and use water in the most productive way.
Give your plants some space – I am planning on doing some serious re-potting over the weekend with fresh, moist soil to burst some life back into my crowded tomatoes.
Some plants wont survive the heat, so decide if you want to replace your most wilted greens, or move on and plan better next year.
What are you doing to protect your garden from the heat? Leave some tips in the comments!
I admitted in my very first post that I was not necessarily a skilled gardener. I am definitely a novice, and someone who is prone to mishaps, or rather, serious missteps along the way. This week proved that theory, as I cruelly neglected my little balcony garden while caught up in other life things, and noticed only yesterday how very bad it’s gotten.
The rain has drowned many of my new flowers, leaving a small swamp for me to deal with. My radishes have sprouted flowers, which I am not sure they are supposed to do, and my lettuces have straight up perished.
I am going away this weekend for a wedding (’tis the season) and I am at a loss at how to solve all of these problems before I take off tomorrow morning.
Leave your condolences in the comments, I need as much support as I can get!
An appropriate title for this week’s column might be, “Sad, Droopy Things”. I mean, wasn’t that what we all were this past week?
The H was O, as they say, and we were all wondering how this could possibly be just the beginning of summer (or, technically, still the end of spring).
My plants were no exception, and as I checked on them this morning, I noticed that many of them had shriveled a little under the stress of the humidity. My most promising squash seems to have deflated, turning in on itself in an almost painful display of undernourishment.
Don’t worry little guy, I got you! This week is all about making sure the basic needs of my baby seeds get met.
I know I talk about the weather a lot, but this is a column about gardening, so deal with it! So, did you guys see the weather forecast this week? I mean, actually pull it up on your iPhone and look at it? It made me want to curl up in bed with Henry Littleboots and all the delivery burritos in the world and never be heard from again.
But alas, my garden needs me! So what is one to do when life hands her the weather equivalent of an entire lemon tree? Plant flowers, of course!
This week I headed to – where else – World of Flowers and picked up some new seeds: Cosmos, Chinese Lanterns, and Calendula — all red, orange, and yellow. My flowers are going to be so fashion forward!
I love having fresh flowers in the house, and frankly, it doesn’t make any sense for me to purchase them when I can grow them in my tiny garden.
Have you planted any flowers this year? How are you coping with the rain?