Monday, May 31, 2010

A few things I've learned...

I probably write this post after every major planting but I'll write it again because it makes me feel wise. This is my third season of gardening at our apartment and every year I get a little smarter and a little less likely to get pulled in by flashy plants and flowers.

I used to consider what I was doing as container gardening but this year I've decided to rebrand myself as a "window box gardener". The basic principals are the same (a bound and set amount of soil) but there are some very distinctive differences, namely the window boxes are bolted to the sides of our house and are therefore immovable. Aside from some pots down on street level, my windows are my gardening destiny and no matter how rough the conditions, they are there to stay.

On a practical level this means that I've given up on some of them. That's not to say that I don't plant them but I really just put plants in them that require zero maintenance. Three of my front window boxes are quite extreme: full sun, zero rain, high winds, and a lot of pollution from the bus stop. They are also in our bedroom which means I need to wake up the husband to water them in the morning. As you can imagine, I value my marriage more than my window boxes. My first season I planted one box with sedums (hens and chicks), pretty flowers, and some raspberries. Everything but the sedums died. The sedums are still alive and well so I decided to just plant the other two with some more sedums and call it a day.

As a side note, I planted geraniums there last year and they did very well for themselves. The nursery only had a few geraniums so I planted them in one of the other front boxes.

This lesson: If you can't maintain them just buy plants that don't need your attention and call it a day.

My other window boxes are much more accessible, aren't full sun, and do get rain. These are the boxes that I actually garden in and got the full treatment of tomatoes, herbs, and some flowers. I also refreshed the soil with some plant food and turned the soil.

If you haven't gardened on the 4th floor of an apartment building in Brooklyn, you may be under the impression that you won't have any pests. I'm not sure if it's just me or some bad karma on our building but we have plenty of pests, mostly aphids. On the flip side, we also have lots of pollinators who are happy to work their magic. But if I've learned anything it's to not get too attached to plants, they get eaten, squashed by pigeons, fall to their death, and sometimes dry up when you go on vacation. Don't buy expensive plants and try to quash any infestations before they get out of control.

Ditto for the plants that I put at ground level. The first year we were here I didn't plant anything downstairs but last year I put out a few pots and planters. I also spent a lot of money on this little endeavor only to have the neighborhood kids pull them out. I think when this happens you can go one of two ways: shake your fists and decide that the neighborhood doesn't deserve your gifts or just buy cheaper plants. I waffle between these two poles but decided to put out even more plants this year.

So for this lesson: don't get too attached to your plants, do your best to keep them alive, and don't get too bent out of shape and mourn the future when drunk teenagers pull your plants out, you too were young and mischievous once.

Finally, if you're just starting out, buy some geraniums. They're hard to kill, don't need a lot of attention, and look great. Every plant, whether you've spent hours planning your arrangement or it pushes through the cracks in the side walk, makes the city and your neighborhood a bit more livable and we could all use a bit of that.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

5th Ave Fair

The 5th Ave fair is a real fair, not one of those fake fairs that they have in Manhattan where the same vendors roll out their boring tired stuff week after week. Some of that shows up in Park Slope but much of it is local bars, restaurants, musicians, and shops that turn the sidewalk into their store. They also have small rides, carnival games, and you can drink beer on the street. Our friends always come out in force and we were lucky to have Alex and Cleo with us (both were just months old last year and now they're stealing each other's juice). The best part is that all of the restaurants open stands and you can just buy little things here and there and stuff yourself with everything from pulled pork to margaritas.

As always, a good time was had by all and of course I took some pictures.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I just got back from a quick trip to Miami with some friends. We spent most of the time lazing about, reading, chatting and enjoying not being at work. I did pry myself up from the beach towel one day to wander around South Beach and take some pictures. The light wasn't great but I managed a few decent shots.

After a long photo hiatus, I'm starting to get back into the swing of things and hope explore a few new neighborhoods in the coming weeks.