OMG, let me tell you about the pleasures and terrors of doing normal things as a resident of New York City. I’m talking about things that are effortless and mundane elsewhere. Things like buying dirt, transporting lumber, watering plants. These things are hard and expensive when you don’t have a car or a Wal-Mart. For example, I don’t yet have a watering can, so I’m filling up a soup/stock pot in my kitchen sink and carrying that 4 flights up and down the stairs. I look like a homeless person. Luckily, I have tons of extra fertilizer from many a failed Aerogarden, uh, gardens. How much fertilizer each packet contains, how much I should dilute into the water, and how frequently I should repeat this…really is anybody’s guess. Fuck if I know that.
But let me back up a bit.
The Cobble Hill Plant Sale — the whole reason I built the garden last week — was actually week later than I thought it was, so I slummed it all the way down (up?) to the Brooklyn Heights farmers market instead. I somehow managed to nab 16 herb and vegetable seedlings for $20. Not bad. Here’s what Gertrude has so far:
- Italian basil
- Thai basil
- flat-leaf parsley
- thyme (type not noted, doesn’t seem to be English, though)
- Mary Washington asparagus (8x)
- black heirloom tomato (2x)
- green zebra heirloom tomato (2x)
- broccoli (2x)
- green zucchini (2x)
- sweet Italian pepper (2x)
I have no specialized knowledge of growing any of the vegetables except the tomatoes. I imagine peppers are similarly cultivated? And broccoli…I…have no idea what a mature broccoli plant looks like. Big? Small? It’s green, I know that for sure. The reasoning behind all of the duplicate vegetables was…I had no idea which were self-pollinating and which needed mates. Though I highly doubt all of these plants will survive to maturity, much less produce fruits, I at least wanted to give them life-partners. Should one meet an untimely dog piss death, I’m not sure what I’d do with the other. Sacrificial culling?
Speaking of dog piss, I knew from the beginning that Gertrude wouldn’t be immune to canine attacks. I couldn’t possibly hope to have 100% urine-free produce, but I thought if I washed everything thoroughly, it would be OK. Then I realized plants might not prefer to grow in a urine-soaked bed, so I fired up Photoshop and made a few signs. The thought process was, “It needs to say ‘I don’t want your dog to pee in my garden, obviously,’ but it needs to be brief and pretty so as to not encourage those who are offended by rude signs.” Laminators make everything better.
At about the time I broke the stem on the Thai basil [and, like a serial killer, pretended like no one would notice if I just quickly jammed it in the ground anyway], I began to people were stopping to admire me/Gertrude. One old lady and her two grandchildren were very complimentary, though the little girl skeptically remarked, “I think that’s gonna take a long time for these to grow, but good for you.” The old lady asked how I had adopted the tree, and I explained it.
Then I saw her. Once again. That lady down the street. The one who I will never forget, made us repark our moving van during our hellish first day in Cobble Hill. I recalled her eyeing me last week, as Gertrude came into being. “The jig is up,” I thought. Ready with a barrage of rebuttals, I was surprised when she immediately unloaded with the compliments. “It’s so great you are doing this. It looks really nice,” she said. She mentioned that she was in charge of the small garden down the block, and she had even approached my landlord several times asking him to clean up around the tree. She does not live in or near our building. Apparently she has a lot of time on her hands. After reminding me to fertilize, I told her my name, and she told me hers. I promptly forgot it.
Stay tuned for next week, when Gertrude gains a few more plants courtesy of the Cobble Hill Plant Sale. Is my neighborhood too cute for its own good? It just might be.