rooftop garden

The Garden Spot, Week 16

So, um, do you guys have a favorite herb?

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?

Basil for days!

Do you have any plants that are doing particularly well? I want to hear your success stories!

 

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The Garden Spot, Week 13

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!

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The Garden Spot, Week 12

A Forest of Chives

Twelve weeks of gardening, and I can finally enjoy the fruits of my labor! Well, not so much fruits as herbs.

A few days ago I went out onto the balcony and plucked basil, rosemary, and chives, all ready to be chopped up and thrown into a lovely herb crusted chicken dish – which I of course, forgot to take a picture of.

However, now that food-eating season is upon us, I plan to start including lots of my favorite recipes and tutorials. After all, I grew these plants for a reason! And that reason is for them to be in my mouth.

Some of my favorite summer recipes are things like simple Caprese salads, grilled corn with lots of butter, asparagus (by the way, RIP my asparagus, they did not like it outdoors), and most kinds of mojitos. What are some of yours? Are you picking up what they are putting down at the new McGolrick farmer’s market? Tell me everything @everydaycaitlin

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The Garden Spot, Week 11

Nobody likes a wilted basil!

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).

Pathetic.

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.

How are your plants taking the heat? Tweet me @everydaycaitlin

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The Garden Spot, Week 9

It’s been a rainy, muggy week here in Greenpoint. I’m going to be honest and say I’ve spent more time catching up on TV and frequenting the brand new Beloved than gardening. However, sometimes the plants take care of themselves (hey, they’ve been doing it since literally forever!).

This morning I awoke to a really special sight. Out of nowhere it seemed that my squash had blossomed! I have a whole mess of little yellow flowers. I was told I should try catching some of these before they bloom, stuff them with cheese and fry them, ….maybe I will give it a shot tonight.

This past weekend, before the rain, I transferred all of my cowpots into regular-sized pots. They seem to be doing well and growing ten times faster. It’s amazing what a little space can do (am I right, Brooklyn renters?)!

How are your gardens coming along? Tweet me @everydaycaitlin

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The Garden Spot, Week 8

Can I just brag about something for a minute? 8 Weeks ago I started this humble column with the intention of using it to help me stick to my gardening and spread information related to the neighborhood. I wanted to feel inspired every week to plan, maintain, learn, and ultimately be a better grower and producer. This week I took a step back and looked at what I had accomplished thus far.

My lettuces are not big enough to eat yet, but they are lush and healthy. My basil emits the most intense, wonderful smell at the touch. Sunflowers and radishes are shooting out of the dirt over night. But there is one plant I am particularly excited about.

My summer squashes are as sturdy as trees. They have these big, vibrant leaves and every time I look at them I am filled with a great sense of pride. They were once tiny seeds, and now they are big, beautiful plants. Way to go, little guys!

I guess this is the rewarding feeling everyone talks about. While I haven’t gotten to taste the fruits of my labor, I get to witness it every day and know I am doing something right. It’s totally awesome.

So, how is your garden coming along? I want to see pics! Tweet me @everydaycaitlin

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The Garden Spot, Week 7

So now that the spring is fully upon us, and our plants are safe being left outdoors 24/7, it’s time to start planning field trips! As you know, this is my first foray into gardening in Greenpoint, so I have a serious to-do list as far as places to go and things to see.

Eagle Street Roof Top Farm
As I’ve been living in Greenpoint for over 2 years, it’s sad/surprising that I’ve never been here before. I am really excited to head over in a few weeks and check it out during their open hours – I’ve heard that view is spectacular!

Gotham Greens
This hydroponic greenhouse on top of the Greenpoint Wood Exchange is like my tiny greenhouse on steroids, and I am sort of obsessed with it. Founded in 2008, it produces 80 tons of quality produce year-round. They aren’t currently doing tours, but maybe they will make an exception for Greenpointers? Hey guys, how about it?

Brooklyn Grange
While technically in Long Island City, Brooklyn Grange is going to be worth the (tiny) trek. Another rooftop farm, the Grange grows over 40 kinds of tomatoes (jealous!) as well as greens, radishes, herbs and so much more.

Java St. Garden
This community garden at 59 Java Street just got the green light to dig in this spring! They are still getting things started, and regularly have planting sessions on Saturdays so feel free to stop by and help out.

Red Shed Community Garden
The Red Shed Community Garden is located at 266 Skillman Street, and functions both as a green space in an otherwise industrial area, and a classroom to teach students about agriculture. They have open gardening days, as well as free-plant giveaways (the next one is May 8th!)

So I am sure I missed a lot of great places. What are some of your favorite gardens/farms in the neighborhood? Tweet them to me @everydaycaitlin – I want to see them all!

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The Garden Spot, Week 4

Gardening can sometimes feel like an ominous fitness regimen. You’ve committed to a challenge, invested in supplies, and now you must maintain the project every day in order to succeed. You watch other people around you excel with leaps and bounds, all the while your tiny basil plant has just start to make it’s way out of the ground.

I can see why it might be discouraging to some people – but just like the world of diet and exercise, there is a ridiculous amount of resources and information out there to help you reach your goals. What I have found thus far is that sticking to one plan is best, and seeking inspiration from the world around you only improves your drive. I mean, I see a particularly pretty rosemary bush, and I want to go home and COMPOST, know what I mean?

Anyway, it’s been a little chilly outside, so my garden is still hanging out indoors – which means there not a lot to report right now.  So this week I thought I’d hook you up with a couple of my favorite inspiration resources, as well as share something I am very excited about.

If you have a few hours to spare and want to fall into a container gardening worm-hole (haha) there is Life On The Balcony. It’s filled with all sorts of Pinterest/Apartment Therapy-looking inspiration that pretty much screams, “do this on a Sunday afternoon.”

I’m not always the DIY type, but I love to support those who are. It’s no surprise that Etsy has some of the best, most original gardening accoutrements around. You can also look for stuff directly from Brooklyn sellers, if you want to keep things wicked local.

And finally – this is sort of my dream come true. There is going to be an urban gardening pop-up shop in Greenpoint from April 4 through the end of June.  HaySeed’s Big City Farm Supply will provide everything from soil to lessons to bees. And it’s just down the street on India!

Until then, do you have any great resources you’d like to share with me? Tweet them to @everydaycaitlin !

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The Garden Spot, Week 2

I don’t want to be too hyperbolic, but given my devotion to this project, my seedlings are sort of like my babies. That’s why, when I took a four-day trip to Florida last week, I was a little nervous to leave them alone. Though I had a trust-worthy friend coming by to water them (and take care of the cat), I was still fretting what I might see upon my return.

A few examples of my fears:

  • Mold all over the seed starter kit.
  • A hungry Henry Littleboots ravaged the baby plants, leaving nothing but bits of roots and paw-prints on everything.
  • Nothing. No growth. No change.

As you can see from this picture, I was pleasantly relieved. Spring had sprung in my little plastic container! The main crops you see on the right are lettuces – spinach and kale, as well as some mixed salad greens. We also have sunflowers jutting up, chives, and a little basil for good measure.

I spent the next morning transferring the larger seedlings into their adult pots and placing them in the greenhouse. It’s going to get up to 80 degrees this week, so I think it is certainly time for them to be placed outside.

When I transferred them I used organic potting soil (purchased from A World Of Flowers), and I mixed in some coffee grinds and orange peels. I know this isn’t proper compost, but I have read that both of these things are good for plants. So far, the mixture is helping my radishes grow into pork taco garnish at the speed of, well, light.

As you can see, my greenhouse is filling up quickly. I don’t want to extend the garden over the entire balcony, as I need somewhere to sit and yell at teenagers this summer. However, I am interested in some kind of tree or vine – lemons or tomatoes. Has anyone had particular success growing either of these outdoors in Greenpoint?

I also decided that I would accept the challenge of planting asparagus. Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables, and something I look forward to all year. Like tomatoes, it is truly better in season. The unfortunate thing about asparagus is that it is not easy to grow, and you can’t cut the stalks the first year. This means that though we may have a green village to look at, we will have to wait until next summer to harvest them and wrap them in prosciutto and smother them in butter. Also, the roots look like alien tentacles.

While it’s all been good news so far, we do have a little problem. Henry cannot seem to leave my indoor palm tree alone. We wake up to this sad sight almost every morning. Does anyone have any tips for keeping cats out of houseplants?

(For some reason I thought putting wine corks over the soil would deter him. Silly me.)

Has anyone else started their small garden yet? Let me know how it’s going @everydaycaitlin !

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The Garden Spot, Week 1

This is one woman’s journey with small-space gardening in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Here is an appropriately corny picture of me with some flowers.

So let me start off with some back-story: Last year my boyfriend and I moved from one apartment on Eckford, to another apartment directly across the street. We upgraded from a small ground level two-bedroom (that we shared with a roommate), to a modern monstrosity with floor to ceiling windows and the tiniest bit of outdoor space. The first thing I did that spring was set up a garden on our balcony.

By garden I mean, I bought some pots, threw some seeds in the dirt, and waited. Occasionally I would go to Sprout and buy a new plant and mix it in with rest and wait to see what happened. By the end of the summer our balcony looked like a wilted graveyard and I had one sad sweet potato that sort of resembled a swollen thumb. I was envious of all the Brooklyn/Urban/Small Space Gardeners who had buckets of squash and full heirloom tomatoes to cook dinner with. We still had to go out and buy produce at Key Foods when we needed it.

At the end of the season all I knew was that, next year I will be doing it RIGHT.

So I present to you: The Garden Spot. This is a weekly column where I will share the ups and downs of gardening in a small space, specifically in Greenpoint. I will buy all my supplies at local stores, stay abreast of local farming/gardening news, create and share recipes from my garden and the local farmers markets, and generally provide information for all you gardening newbies out there. Like I said, I failed miserably last year, so I make no claims that this year will be any more fruitful. However, sharing it with you will hopefully prove fun and informative for all of us.

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