Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sowing the Seeds of Love

It's springtime!!! 
For the last few years or so, I've wanted to have an herb garden. I've thought about it, daydreamed about it and talked about it. I know indoor herb plants are just as good, but I wanted a garden, you know ... one you work in and get all dirty and stuff. Not very eloquently said, but I'm willing to guess I'm also not your typical stereotype for a gardener. At least I don't think so ... we are given some pretty clean images of people gardening. In commercials the women have on cute little khakis and a denim button up, thrown over a white tank or something. The shoes are clean and the gloves, pristine. Can I even say the people usually seem older? I'm 34, for the record. In magazines, gardening is even prettier ... the gloves are clean and tools are shiny with only dirt on the part touching the dirt. Reminds me of how fast food looks in commercials ... it never adds up in real life. That being said, I thought starting a garden would be pretty and easy and breezy lol ... it isn't.

I recently moved into a place with a nice patch of earth in the backyard. It may seem tiny, but in Brooklyn, it's golden to have any outdoor space. I lucked up and got more than the standard concrete found in many of the borough's backyards, I got dirt ... and lots of concrete as well. Everything was covered with years and years of neglect and junk. A definite fixer-upper of a backyard. When we finally decided we were going to tackle it, it coincided with the first days of spring, so why clean it if we aren't gonna use it? I immediately turned an idea of my own herb garden, into a full-on garden of veggies and fruits as well. I ordered some seeds and bulbs online, then when they got here we took a trip to Home Depot for the rest. First, I'm never an advertiser of stuff here, just a talker telling a friend a story, but you must know the Home Depot I go to ... we call it "The Bizarro-World Home Depot" (taken from a favorite Seinfeld episode). We call it that because typically I'm used to going into one and searching forever for something and not being able to find anyone to help and when you do find someone chances are they are tied up with another customer. One time I waited about 40 minutes in the appliance department trying to buy something. I ended up getting it at a locally owned store. Now in the new 'hood I thought I'd give the old standby another try. Look, I know the aisles have headers and all, but there are just some things you need help with. So, anyway every time we go in there now, there are more than enough people to help and twice, we didn't need help, we were just comparing products and someone asked if we needed help deciding. Really nice. We commented at checkout how nice everyone was and we weren't used to it and the guy that checked us out said with a smile, "We aren't trying to see a recession happen over here!". It was lay-off, recession humor that was needed. As I am experiencing growth, I have many people very close to me dealing with layoffs. It sucks and I hope soon things turn the corner on the economy. Oddly, if you have some earth close by and a few bucks, you can start a garden and work off some of the stress. Yes, it's a workout and it's cheap! Seeds are like $1 for a bag of them and topsoil is cheap and so are the tools. All I bought was a hand shovel and a hand-axe/rake thing. There was already a shovel left behind by the last folks, so not really much to upstart the garden. Just plenty of planning and running around.

That's another thing they don't show in the ads or magazine articles about gardening ... it's a workout! Here I am, halfway through raking ...

Don't laugh at the gear, I'm no slope bunny. I don't have the khakis and the cute stuff. Look at that mess though! There was junk under those leaves from years ago. Really yucky, but we had a garden to sow! My dude was such a champ and knows plenty about landscaping and stuff so I had an advantage. We had to turn the soil because it was rock hard and filled with junk, here I am getting that done.

This is a bit later in the day so I had to change because it was cold and I found jeans just don't feel comfy in the garden. Even though we were sure to be past the last frost, it was cold. This was only two weeks ago. I didn't work alone, I had the hand tool and my dude wielded the bigger ones to remove the weeds and stuff. There were all kinds of roots down there. Ick. After we turned it and mixed in some new soil we decided to take a break and start plotting what seeds would go where ... we also needed some refreshment. :-)


Okay, so you know how it goes when kids are in the car on a road trip the question is always "Are we there yet?". I was that annoying kid to my dude while we were turning the soil. Because even after our lunch break after turning soil for hours, he said we needed to turn it some more. I'd work for about 10 minutes and ask him "Can we start yet?", "Are we there yet?", "How far away are we?". LOL. Ahhh he handled it well because I can be a whiner, but finally when all things were turned, I got to sow the seeds!

I was so engrossed, I didn't even notice him snap these flicks. I told him to get pics of me raking, but that was hours before this. Anywho, there's red onions, carrots, radishes, scallions, 3 kinds of lettuce, collards, cucumber, watermelon, tomatoes, broccoli, rosemary, thyme, oregano, bell peppers and cilantro. Not all went directly into the ground. I did a mini greenhouse inside for a backup to the watermelon I planted outdoors, then also planted the peppers and backup seeds of the collards and radishes in the container as well. I just wasn't quite sure the seeds would last and from research knew starting indoors was a good idea for some seeds. Here they are a few days in ...

I was nervous until ...

... these sprouted up a few days later! Those are watermelon, collards and radishes. In the front are the pods for the bell peppers -- slow starters. Also, any other gardeners get giddy every morning like it's Christmas or what?! Because after sowing the seeds into the ground outside, I couldn't wait to wake up every morning and check out the window for overnight progress. I wanted to blog about it two weeks ago when I planted everything, but I thought that would be boring. A flick of a patch of dirt. Not so neat, but now ... I have some green out there. Take a look at my radishes!

They were the first to sprout and the funny thing is I just got over my dislike of them! Cute and ironic twists the world throws us. Take a look at the collards, on the left are the ones sown directly into the soil, on the right are the transplants.

Unfortunately, the watermelons I planted outdoors were killed by weeds. We don't even know how we missed the huge weed bulb because as I mentioned, we turned until turning couldn't turn anymore. We investigated the soil around the watermelon seeds and found a bud sprouted and ate up all the nutrients from the seeds. There were teeny little weak watermelon sprouts in the hill I built. Like anemic versions of the ones grown indoors. Darn weeds! No worries, we transplanted the backups from indoors and rebuilt the hill for them.

That's where I'm at now, just waiting to see if the implanted stuff takes outdoors. Then I have to thin stuff. I'm starting to feel like I need a journal to note what to do to each crop, it's hard to keep in my head. Another thing, I've never checked the weather report so much in my life! Btw, the herbs I mentioned for the garden aren't seeds, they are plants and I actually haven't put those in the earth yet. Waiting for better weather. If the weather warms up as promised, I hope to tackle that sometime this weekend along with some flowers in other areas of the backyard. Stick around for garden updates and I still have BK Restaurant Week stuff to post soon.

24 comments:

Lys said...

Sunny - go for it! Who cares about "proper gardening gear", right? You are doing something you enjoy and will definitely enjoy the end result. I'm going to forward this to my gardening buddy, Ms. Hotfessional.

Hope all is well!

Christa said...

Congrats on the garden, Sunny. I'm jealous as I'm an apartment dweller with no place for one...having your own thyme, rosemary and the like would be just dreamy. Someday. Someday.

Elva said...

i am proud of u Sunny! Irie All Day!

Ree said...

Hi Sunny! Lys sent me here to see if I could give you any advice because of my gardening 'kills' er... I mean 'skills'. ;-)

But honestly, it looks like you're well on your way.

The only thing I can tell you - being from a midwest climate - watch the weather reports CAREFULLY and if there's any chance at all of frost, go cover those babies up with some sort of protective cover. Because I've learned the hard way that a little frost can wreak major havoc on young'uns. ;-)

Anonymous said...

cow manure mulch is the key if you can git it. is your backyard big enough for aquaponics? that's my dream....someday!

jeju

Sunny Anderson said...

lys, i know, i don't think i'll ever pick up any glamor awards from people. all i can think is someone is gardening pretty, but it ain't me :-) ... hope you've been well!

christa, don't be jealous. i'm actually sowing 2 rows for a friend that is apartment bound. hookin her up with some earth!

elva, thanks so much and welcome to the blog!

ree, hey! i need help not stressing about my carrots ... i don't see a sprout or nuthin! argh ... same on the broccoli and cucumbers. the cukes are in the soil next to the once-failed melons, so i'm thinking of uprooting and starting again. i'm headed out today to do the flowers and put the potted herbs in the ground. and trust me, i am sam champion in this piece! i check the weather, my dude now pulls it up on his itouch thingy, next step is the farmers almanac lol! hey, know of any sites that have vids of plants growing? anything helps :-) and why do the leaves on my collards differ btwn the ones sown indoors and the ones outdoors? 1 is 4 clovers one is 2???

jeju, we saw the manure mulch and opted not to. went with the topsoil treated with fertilizer. aquaponics, eh?? they just busted a huuuuuuuuuuge illegal auqaponic thing here in bklyn ... or is that hydroponic? what's the diff?

Lana said...

Can you believe I drove thru one of the worst snow blizzards ever last night - really wicked right on the Utah / Idaho borader. Still too cold here to plant! But that doesn't mean I'm not gettin' started.

My compost pile is steamin' and cookin' - got the kids turning it every other day. Mother's day weekend is about the right time to plant in my area - so that's our plan.

I have a 12,000 sq. ft. back yard - about 300 sq. ft. of it marked off for a garden. Back breaking work! but worth it come late summer & fall. :-)

It'll be nice to have some e-gardening buddies! Keep postin' Sunny. :-)

Sunny Anderson said...

lana, yaaaaay! who knew i'd get a few gardening buddies! ok, on the compost ... i thought about it, talked about it, etc., but i'm scared of luring vermin. there's a huge rat thing in nyc and we are soo lucky to have found a place with nothing, no rats, roaches, not even ants. people in the swankiest spots have em in the city and i'm not even in a swanky spot, so i wanna keep em at bay. any suggestions? i may start, but after a mini vacation so i can tend to it ... and omg on the sq.ft.!!! one day i'll move to a place of land-a-plenty, we here call it jersey, long island or westchester. but i dunno, bklyn is pretty sweet. i'm gonna measure my garden and report back to ya ...

Nkoyo said...

Hi Sunny!
First of all I'd like to say keep up all of your hard work and positive energy. It definitely shines through in your media projects. Here's a question I have for ya: I have my own catering business in Houston,TX and although the type of cuisine that I create "caters" to the client, my biggest focus is on all-natural, real food menus. In fact, my company's name is Wholesome Addictions. With this said I am so big on organic, even local produce. Love our community farmer's markets, the whole nine. Like you I have dreamt about creating my own garden for years, but here's my issue(and I'm almost ashamed to admit this): I have this crazy fear of rodents, and somewhere in the back of my mind, I feel that me planting veggies may somehow "attract" them. Crazy I know. Now I know you live in NY and all, so, how do you feel about this issue? Or do rodents in general not scare you anyway? Just trying to see if I can work around my phobia.

Sunny Anderson said...

nkoyo, i mean, i'm a bit scared of rodents, but there are none in the area and the hood cats take care of most of it. i think if i composted, the smell may attract them ... we'll see. i'm excited about it! me and my dude are really enjoying the time together too. i say crash through your phobia! give it a try, maybe start small ...

The Duo Dishes said...

Awesome! You are gettin' it in. Rake it up! Looks like you have a lot of space back there in Brooklyn/NY standards. Can't wait to see those babies grown and what you make from them.

Marie said...

Hey! I have dreams of starting my own garden, but I think I'll start with a few herbs in a pot first. LOL.

Anyway, I saw your Mexican food show today and I had to get on here and say.....shout out to San Antonio and my high school JUDSON!(J-ROCK) I just couldn't resist since you went to MADISON. I now reside in Dallas.

LOL. LOL. LOL.

Mise En Place said...

That's so cool a garden in NYC!
So something I'd do being a country girl. :)

I hope you have great crop.

Sunny Anderson said...

the duo dishes, i'm trying! got some mulch today and looks like i'll replant the tomatoes and the cukes. everything else is slowly sprouting. then we are laying seeds down for flowers. i've got the solar lights charging up, the patio furniture is on the way ... all i need is a party planned! we are trying to make a nice lil oasis out there. can't wait.

marie, i started with them in the pot! they died though and now with mother nature taking care of rain and sunlight, they are doing better outdoors. and OMG!!!! my first boyfriend went to judson and had the same last name as me so i always thought we'd be great cuz i wouldn't have to change names, so juvenile. that school killed alll of us in the neisd for football, those were the days huh? texas stadium football on fridays!? what year were you? i was "fly and free in 93" lol ... ahhh do the kids still rhyme out the grad year?

mis en place, yeah ... the funny thing is there are a jillion home gardeners in nyc! i guess we are so land strapped, when anyone gets a teeny pc. they are doin something with it. our local rite aid was selling seeds and gardening stuff and there are plenty of small gardening stores in the area. i almost feel like i have to garden, why waste the land? i hope i can eat something from it lol, i think the lettuce, collards and the radishes look the most promising as well as the red onions, those look pretty fool proof.

Dylan Jay Smith said...

Very awesome,

I grew up in the Adirondack mountains of NY, so we always had a garden and whatnot. I'm pretty much a plant nerd, I love growing stuff, it's so satisfying and interesting. You feel pretty accomplished when you watch what you planted grow up into something you can eat. I live in Albany now, and there isnt much room for a garden. I should try to grow some stuff indoors, even if it's nothing more than some beans or peas (easy to grow inside, and fun to pick right off and eat raw).

I do have some radish seeds though... I wonder if I could figure out some place to plant them...

Marie said...

My mom has a "black thumb," so I hope I have better luck with my herbs in a pot. Any suggestions on what to start with first? I love cilantro, but outside of that I'm not sure.

Wow! I graduated from Judson in 2002 and yes, they still rhyme out the grad year. LOL. Although I can't remember mine. (Fo shame!) I do miss Firday night football.

Margaret said...

I am so proud of you and your garden!!! My daughter wants a garden in our yard, but we may have to settle with raised beds due to the fact that here in the Fayetteville Sandhills, there is not much dirt. Where we live (between Ft. Bragg and Pope AFB), there is nothing but sand and clay.
We did start a vermicompost (compost with red wiggler worms) in a 10 gallon tub. So far, so good. The worms are happy (lots of little worms as proof). Hopefully the worms do their job and create enough compost for the beds we need.
Vermicomposting is the new black!!

Jennifer from Detroit said...

You are so lucky! I'm apartment bound myself and I tried growing rosemary and sage in the same pot last year and it was an epic fail! I'm still trying to get rid of those blasted black flies that come from overwatering :-( I was able to grow lavender but that was mainly for the wonderful smell and beautiful flowers. This year I'm going to stick with flowers to see how well I do with them and my daughter and I are going to plant a small flower garden for my mother for Mother's Day so hopefully my brown thumb will get a little more green this year :-)

Please keep us updated on your garden! This is so interesting and exciting!

Darius T. Williams said...

Alright now Sunny - check you out. See, this is why I love you soooo flippin much! Loving the new episodes, by the way! I have a food project coming up and guess who's the topic of conversation - you!

Anyway - great start to the garden. I thought about doing one - but it's April 21st and it's going to snow today. It's supposed to be 80 degrees on Thursday. Um, that's Chicago for ya'. For now I'll just go to my local fresh stand and pick up the items I need. i'll leave that hard work to them...and you! Congrats!

Kathy said...

Sunny~

I wish I could have a patch of land. Small studios in NYC don't let me! But I love the farmers market a few blocks away.

ps-love your show! I watch everyday. I'd love for you to check out my food and wellness blog: http://www.healthy-happy-life.com

Kathy

Sunny Anderson said...

dylan jay smith, ITA! i feel like a plant-mommy ... I wake up thinking about them and check on them often. Feels nice. Can't wait to see if any of it is edible! According to all my research radishes will pretty much grow in the worst dirt, so give it a go! buy a big planter and do it indoors maybe ...

marie, teeheehee on the black thumb. i have had ups and downs with plants, so i can't wait to see if this is an up. ahhh judson, the big red campus and what was the other? black? and the rumors of recruiting, are those still around? crazy huh?

margaret, thank you!!! as mentioned above, give the radishes a try, plenty of sites say beginning gardeners and kids will love them because they are pretty fast and easy to grow. i know all about fayetteville's terrain! we used to call it "goin out into the country" and it involved plenty of dirt roads ...

jennifer from detroit, i feel you, but try to live through me vicariously if it works. only reason i'm doin this bog. lemme tell ya, i wanted a garden so many times while i was in an apartment, so at least i'm not like one of those people that has the opportunity and doesn't take it, ya know? have fun planting the flower garden! now is the time!

dtdub, i miss you blog :-( ... and yeah, chi-town ain't grow-town ... but what about all those bldgs in the biz district with rooftop gardens? are those still up during the cold months?

kathy, i totally understand. i would even buy liquid smoke to grill with on my new jersey apartment renter's electric grill when i was in an apartment with no outdoor space. I spent so much time on my teeny balcony that i got lock out there somehow one time and didn't bother to call for help until the sunset. i just sat there outside wishing i had grass ... even had fake golf course grass installed on the patio ... i'm an outdoors chick. thanks for watching the shows! there are so many i've taped that haven't aired yet, so i hope you catch the new ones as well!

Darius T. Williams said...

I took the blog down - lol had to focus and streamline. I'm on a mission now. But you can always check out everydaycookin.com - that's updated all the time. AND, I'm in the middle of cooking 5 meals, for 5 days, for $5 bucks or less per serving...all from pot roast. you gotta check it out.

Sunny Anderson said...

dtdub, ok ... just email me if you throw up a new secret one, i wanna be first in line :-).

Red wiggler worms fan said...

It definitely takes a dedicated gardener to do what you did with your garden. @margaret I was just thinking about getting some red wiggler worms to help create a better compost for an apartment garden attempt. I'm glad your 10 gallon is doing so well!