Thursday, June 10, 2010

Veggies, Herbs, and Earthboxes, Oh My! Or: Urban Gardening, Here We Go...

Since...oh, about January, I have been itching to start planting, and counting the days until Summer. But as an urban dweller with an apartment the size of my suburban-dwelling friends' living rooms and absolutely no yard, I had to get resourceful and turn my ledge into a porch full of planted pots. Next up: the fire escape. Ahhh, sweet urban oasis. I'll carve out some green space for myself come hell or high water. I need it. Kind of like yoga. Or air.

In fact, I consider my gardening another way to live my yoga off the mat. Obviously, I only use organic everything--soil, plants, fertilizers, etc. And I try to get pots made from recycled materials. So this kind of gardening is good for the planet and for you--sort of like yoga, but in a slightly different way. I'm also adding green to my neighborhood, aiding with pollution, and of course, cutting down on fossil fuel demands because I'm eating less stuff that had to be shipped across the country, or even the world. I also find it incredibly soothing to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty (only in organic soil though!). Seriously, is there a better way to feel really connected to the Earth than to actually get some earth on you? Is there anything more rewarding than stepping outside and harvesting something that YOU grew and then eating it seconds later? When it's still warm from the sun? When its nutritional value is literally at its peak?

Anyway, enough philosophizing.

The first week of April I planted three kinds of lettuces--two different red leafed varieties and a pointy-leafed kind. In the past eight weeks, they've grown to look like huge green bouquets. So beautiful! I also planted a box of herbs--parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Yes, I'm aware I pretty much walked straight out of the Simon and Garfunkle song, but then I added oregano which kind of throws the lyrics off but will really great for my cooking. They are also growing like there's no tomorrow (see the photographic evidence below). Herbs and greens (lettuce, kale, chard etc.) are super easy to grow and like the cool spring temps in the Northeast.
This past weekend, I got the warmer-weather guys in: cucs, zucs, tomatoes, and peppers (two different kinds of each). I'm looking forward to seeing if the "mortgage lifter" tomato lives up to its name. If it does, maybe I can upgrade to a place with a bona fide yard! I'll casually buff my nails on my collar and sigh to my new neighbors, "oh...yeah, it's all about the tomatoes..."

This season, I am branching out (pun fully intended) from my usual pots to try Earthboxes. Have you guys heard of them? My aunt, a veritable gardening genius at Primex Garden Center, suggested I give them a try. Basically, each rectangular box is a "self-sustaining garden" system that cuts those pesky aspects like watering and weeding out of the growing equation. Wait--no watering and weeding?! I'm confused. Whatever will I do all summer in between eating the 50# of tomatoes that one box (of only two plants) in guaranteed to yield? I guess I'll be forced to lounge in the shade, sip iced tea, and do yoga instead.

So...we'll see if these Earthboxes do, in fact, yield 50# of tomatoes per box and comparable quantities (and high quality too of course!) of the other veggies. I'll be keeping tabs via posts and pictures on this blog so stay tuned!

My first pic of the plants going in is featured below.

Any thoughts on this whole gardening thing? What do you like to grow and how do you grow it? Success stories? Horror stories? Entertaining anecdotes? Any experience with these Earthboxes? Do tell!

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