Curbside Garden Diary: Weeks 5-6

It has been about two weeks since I last checked in on Gertrude’s Garden. I keep thinking that each diary post will be the last for a month — since this is, after all a somewhat mundane topic — but so much has happened! Firstly, almost all of the plants have absolutely exploded in growth, as you can plainly see.

The lone asparagus is now absolutely huge, despite being knocked over by people carelessly exiting their cars. What do they think this is, a street? I say “lone,” but clearly the asparagus has begun populating its niche in earnest. I count at least a dozen fronds at this point, and more stems seem to be poking through the dirt each week.


Asparagus has got to be the easiest thing to grow. I wonder why it isn’t more common in gardens. You literally just dig a hole, put the roots in, and occasionally water. That’s it.


The tomatoes are out of control. After only a month the tomatoes already need stakes. The rickety bamboo poles I found at the hardware store don’t…look all that convincing, but I’m hoping since these varieties produce small fruits there won’t be a risk of breakage. Now if we could only get some flowers on these things!


The zucchini has obviously done well, and it has recently blossomed several beautiful yellow flowers. I am confused what, if anything, I should do with them. Literally everyone I have mentioned them to has responded, “you can fry those you know.” Yes, I know that. I am aware that squash blossoms are an edible product. But if I do that does that prevent me from having actual zucchini later in the summer? Clearly, the flowers must correlate to the vegetables. Right? I have no idea. I’m leaving them for now.


Last time I wrote that one of the twin zucchini plants in the corner farthest from the street (and thus danger) committed suicide for no apparent reason. I needed to replace it with something, but I am also supremely lazy and didn’t feel like walking to the farmers market. Then I saw it. A $2 bag of basil at a bodega. I recalled a trick someone at a farmers market (I used to be less lazy) once told me. If you give basil plenty of fresh water and adequate sunlight, they will eventually sprout roots. Placing the bunch carefully in water with some leftover fertilizer, I watched them for about a week before choosing the healthiest ones to transplant outside. Like an astronaut who’s lost the use of his or her muscle control upon returning back to earth, the plantlings needed a little support, so I jerry-rigged a chopstick/foam wire structure. It might not be pretty, and several did die, but it worked eventually. I hope to have pesto by July.

It’s not all good news, though. The other herbs — notably the rat-chewed rosemary and oregano — have floundered. I’m not sure what’s going wrong with them. Maybe they are being shaded by the other plants? It feels worse than that. I always assumed they would be the most prolific aspects of the garden, but the herbs are instead oddly stunted. Maybe it’s because I’m using nutrients that were designed for vegetables, but even that doesn’t seem like a plausible explanation. If anyone has any insight I’d be grateful.

As I was digging the hole for the basil, I found two very alive worms! That worm juice is obviously working. After finishing the basil I forgot about the worms and accidentally chopped one in half with my shovel, so now there are technically three. And in just that tiny little patch! Gertrude must literally be swarming with worms. Mmm, delicious.

After I picked up my tools and went to throw the trash away, I noticed that someone had left two stray flowering plants in the area of bare dirt by the tree (which is there because of concrete underneath). And not like, cut flowers from a funeral. Actual rooted plants. Were they being donated? Buried? Sacrificed? Where did they come from? Whoever this person was, he or she took the time to find a nice resting spot for the flowers, but didn’t bother actually embedding them in the dirt. Weird.


Finally, the broccoli is also doing quite well. Well, let’s forgive the fact that one of the broccoli crowns was carelessly knocked over by a driver exiting a car — presumably the same criminal who toppled an asparagus frond, may he or she rot in hell. Never would I have thought that the primary difficulty with creating this garden would be people trampling it. I always assumed its downfall would result from a combination of:

  • dog piss
  • pollution
  • lack of sunlight
  • lack of water
  • my inability to take care of living things

Nope, it’s gone amazingly well. The broccoli actually became the first to produce viable food. One single crown! Someone walking by Gertrude saw that the broccoli was about to bolt (whatever that means), used the QR code on the sign to come to this website, and then told me I should harvest. I feel so 21st Century Brooklyn. Lightly steaming the crown with some leftover lentils seemed like the best way to recognize Gertrude’s efforts. Yes, it was a comically small amount of food, but it was worth it!


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