Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Urban Garden Started in an Empty Corner Office

Tip: Label Everything!
I moved to Boston (Somerville actually) in March of 2008 and soonafter asked my landlord about planting a few vegetables somewhere in the yard.  There's not a ton of land, but my downstairs neighbors had a small garden in the side yard, so I thought it couldn't hurt to ask.  Ron was more excited about my garden than I was and we talked possible locations.  He pointed me to the front yard since it got the most sun.  I wasn't about to be picky, so I agreed and got to work tearing up the (crab) grass and tilling.  I'd never had a garden before, but I come from a long line of green thumbs and I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty!  How hard could it be to grow a few tomatoes, right? 

Tip 2: Plastic Doesn't Mold & is Reusable!
Well, the garden was a hit!  My neighbors would walk by and marvel and I couldn't talk to my landlord without hearing about how great it looked.  I was thrilled when the first zucchini came in.  I didn't realize that the plants would stop fruiting if I let them get too big and I was so proud of how fast they grew, that I let them get HUGE so I could stuff them with quinoa.  What I love about gardening is that I'm always learning something practical (you don't get much more practical than how to feed yourself!).  This year, I wanted to start everything from seed.  I probably spent $100 or so on heirloom varieties without realizing that I didn't know a damn thing about seed starting (again, how hard could it be, right?).  I bought a few books, read the instructions on seed packs and got to it!

Happy Cucumber and Squash Seedlings
I did have one small problem.  I live in on the second floor of a large Victorian that is surrounded by trees.  There are tons of windows, but none that get enough sun for seedlings.  My office, on the other hand, is an extremely sunny place, so I brought all my supplies to work and stayed late one night after everyone had left to sow my seeds in the kitchen.  I borrowed a coworker's space heater, watered, and headed home for the night.  And like good seeds do, a few days later, they sprouted.  Trouble was, I started a bit late AND I had to travel a lot in March, April, and May for work... so they didn't get the love they deserved and not many made it to the actual garden.  Successful transplants included roma and cherry tomatoes, escarole, and hmmm... that might be about it! 

Yes, I transplanted more than just that, but the damn japanese beetles ate most of my young plants.  I eventually ended up replacing a lot of the plants I had started from seed with plants I bought at Pemberton Farms, Home Depot, Lowes, seedling sales at local farms, and farmers markets.  But at least this year, I tried to start everything from seed... and I think I made pretty damn good use of that empty corner office, don't you think!?  And in case you're wondering, those sandwich platters with lids do make excellent "greenhouses!"


Bet you can't wait to see the pics of the garden now, right?  Coming soon, I promise!