In elementary school we had all-school spring and winter recitals. The school music teacher challenged us with songs that often times went over our heads, and were pure enjoyment of our parents. Most notable was the Beatles, When I’m 64, where we spent weeks on definitions and proper accents of words– not exactly something a second grader is keen on. Many other songs have stuck with me, like Les Miserables’ Castle on a Cloud and Fifty Nifty, which continues to amaze friends at parties. One of my favorite songs we learned was the Garden Song (a clear vocal YouTube rendition here).
Inch by inch, row by row, Gunna make this garden grow…
As one might expect, land is precious in New York City and there is little of it to go around. When I tell people I keep a few buckets of plants in the front of my apartment they are amazed I have outdoor space for even this small project. This year, after much deliberation, D and I were lucky enough to acquire a plot at the 2-year old Two Coves Community Garden.
All it takes is a rake and a hoe, And a piece of fertile ground.
But still, there are some who cannot comprehend how dear land is in the city. In my neighborhood especially, there is little green space. A community garden is an anomaly because it takes space that could potentially be used by many (say as a park), and divides it into individual plots (unless a whole community gardens one large plot together as I have heard happens in many Detroit, MI community gardens).
Someone bless these seeds I sow, Someone warm them from below.
The plots at Two Coves are refreshingly larger than at most other community gardens, averaging about 10 ft x 10 ft (my space is about 10 ft x 15 ft; because there are 2, sometimes more, of us working it). Most other gardens I have seen are around 4 ft x 4 ft. Even so, when I told my father, who grew up in the City and understands land value here, I had a plot at a community garden, he asked if it was a 100 ft x 20 ft plot. That would be the size of an entire lot!? (That also can easily sell for a few million dollars depending on the area!) I hardly have something that size.
‘Til the rains come tumbling down…
In the past, my bucket “garden” was mostly greens that can grow in partial sun. This year it has become mostly herbs. As food production goes, it is fairly minimal. As members of a Community Supported Agriculture group, D and I grappled with questions of why we would need more vegetables. But as people who one day want to leave the City for some land and have a garden of our own, the answer eventually fell to yes, this garden would be our land of experimentation (and maybe some canning produce to bring us through the winter).
Pulling weeds and picking stones,
Of course, gardening in New York City is not like gardening in your private backyard. There are members who view the space as therapeutic alone time, while for others it is an opportunity to vocalize their garden knowledge. For better of for worse, you have the opinions, suggestions and advice of each and every gardener in your small plot of land. I love these differences of opinion and welcome everyones’ advice, pulling from it what I may to help my own plot grow stronger. Over the season, I see us forming a garden family, with each gardeners space an extension of the personality that helped grow it.
Man is made from dreams and bones… Feel the need to grow my own…
This year, D and I had a late start and I purchased most of our plants as seedlings from Silver Heights Organic Farm. Hopefully next year we will have enough produce to harvest some seeds to plant next season. We are hoping whatever does come to fruition will be enough to can or dry for supplement through the winter. We are growing:
4 sweet corn varieties
4 bean varieties (we will be planting the seeds in another week at the base of the corn)
2 tobacco varieties
3 winter squash varieties
* Note that the above 4 are known to Native Americans as the 4 Sisters. They grow in harmony with each other, replacing nitrogen in soil, used as natural coverings to keep out weeds, and as natural pest control.
4 eggplant varieties
4 pepper varieties (hot, sweet and paprika)
2 varieties of canning tomatoes
2 Brussels sprout varieties
2 watermelon varieties
6 heads of bok choi
2 bushes of currants
misc herbs: basil, oregano, chives, lemon balm, catnip, summer savory, purslane, chamomile and a few others (these will be planted near partner plants to work as natural pest controls.)
Of course, in on all of this are my composting worms. Happily munching away at my food scraps to create more organic fertilizer for everything. My next goal is to convince the garden we should get some city chickens running around!