Sunday, April 6, 2008

My Urban Garfunkel Garden

In just spring, when the world is puddlewonderful.
- e.e. cummings



Yesterday was such a beautiful early spring day. The sun was shining, New York City was bustling with people and plants and life, and I was in an unusually good mood. I've been feeling perpetually grouchy lately, but the warm day filled me with promise of brightness and warmth and happiness before me. As my fried Jessica put it, the day lent a nostalgia for what we knew was to come as in summers past: lazy hot days, sipping cool beers in gardens, lounging around lush parks, walking in warm twilights and nights.


I started out the morning with visits to both McCarren Park and Union Square greenmarkets. The little trays of herbs and plants at the market called to me, and I was determined to make today the day I finally got my urban garden going. My mom is an ardent gardener, and I grew up surrounded by beautiful lawns and flowers, and ate fresh broccoli and peppers from her vegetable garden. But personally, I never had any motivation to get down with the dirt and manual labor of gardening.


Until I started to explore local eating, and realized that the most local way of all is from your own backyard. Or in my case, from a container garden on my miniscule deck. I feel lucky enough in Brooklyn to have any outdoor space at all past a fire escape - ours is a little wooden deck with a grill and a rusty chair, used mostly when cigarette smokers visit. As well, I can walk out onto a small roof space from my window, where the warmth of the black tar will be good for tomatoes and basil later this summer I think.


Without meaning to, I selected flats of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme from the Blew Farm stand, just as in the Simon and Garfunkel song. Back at home, I was lucky enough to have potting soil left over from the previous tenants. And I had some indoor plants that were on their last legs, from the dry heat in our apartment and the ravages of our dog's teeth. So I pulled out the old plants and gently potted the new baby herbs and set them out on our little deck.


I also had a packet of mixed greens seeds that were a Christmas gift. I was too lazy to start the seeds inside a few weeks ago, so I planted them directly into a container bought at Home Depot. Now I cross my fingers and hope that the seeds will sprout, and that I'll be able to enjoy homemade salads before the oppressive New York summer heat kills them.

And so now, I wait, for nature to run its course. For fickle, blustery early spring to warm around the edges, for plants to sprout, for fresh crunchy vegetables to appear in the farmers market, for my herbs to grow tall. And in waiting, must not forget that I need not wait for warm weather to feel alive.

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