Urban Gardening

img_22241We are blessed to have a garden apartment. And by “garden” I mean a 30×20 or so concrete slab. When we moved in there were edging blocks inartistically stacked in a square, minus a few made into a BBQ pit – that’s about all we had to work with. I hate renting because I’m not inclined to spend money on anything I can’t take with me, but I’ve decided to do what I can.

Last year I arranged the blocks in a more appealing pattern and was surprised how far I could get them to stretch. If this was my place I’d tear out some of the concrete to have a dirt bed – no such luck as renters.

Task #1: how to build up dirt without spending much money. These are row houses, so no digging it up from elsewhere. We have some sort of bamboo that grows like a weed so I’ve been cutting it back and piling it behind the blocks.

Urban Composting. You can buy some really nifty compost bins, but that defeats the point. I picked up a 30 gallon trash can, drilled holes every 6-8 inches, and started throwing weeds and scraps in (at the Rose house, there is a high percentage of coffee grounds in the mix). Most urban composting articles call for using red worms, but that again costs money. I’ve found the simple method works just as well, we’ve had no odors, no problems with rodents, only a lot of fruit flies escape when lifting the lid.

So with my weeds and compost we will slowly build up dirt behind the pavers.

Task #2: How to get pots, plants, and dirt home with no car. No problem, Lowe’s – “It’s just down the street”. Ok, carrying a fully loaded 30 gallon trash can a mile wasn’t as easy as I thought. Nor the repeat trip with fully loaded push cart in one hand and son in stroller in the other hand. But no matter, Rick doesn’t do spending money on Taxis.


Task #3: Vegetables. I’m a country boy by birth and whatever you call those red things you buy at the grocery store, they are not tomatoes. So I picked up tomato plants, red pepper, zucchini, and cucumber. I don’t want tons of pots and plants come with 6 – I don’t want to throw out too many. So one pot got 2 tomatos planted next to each other and a zucchini or cucumber in the back of the pot to grow out and up the fence. In the 6″ of dirt I do have against the back fence I planted the leftover vines. I’ve heard rumors that people have trouble with rodents eating the veggies in Brooklyn, but we’ll see how it turns out.

Task #4: flowers. Out were the plastic flowers my landlord put in front of the apartment, in were real flowers. …Out was my neighbors cigarette… in my flowers and up were my flowers in flames. Ok, not so successful in the front yard, but we have nice flowers all over in the back yard now.

Task #5: perennials. After our visit to relatives in New Jersey, our little concrete garden felt rather pathetic. I realized I need some more interesting plants and I can pot those as well to take with me when we leave. So I picked up some ornamental grasses, hostas, echinacea, etc. It’s a start. Perhaps my landscape guru father-in-law has suggested plant choices?

So far so good. We’re not winning any awards here, but I’m enjoying it.

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4 Responses to Urban Gardening

  1. bchallies says:

    I love container gardens….Think the different sizes and elevations are as interesting as a perennial border…Am looking forward to seeing it! Mom C

  2. maryanne helms says:

    good idea. good for Micah to see too. I think kids and gardens are a really healthy combination!

  3. bchallies says:

    The plant selection sounds good. Given the price of plants in NYC you will probably want to stick with perennials.

  4. Grace says:

    Great work Rick! Justin would be equally as cheap…I think it’s great that your neighbor used your flowers as a place to dump his/her ashes…disgusting. Good luck with the vegetables! We are growing a bunch this year but I’m sure will have a much easier time in our more rural setting:)

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