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The Back Garden Project: Produce Report

This is the 11th post in The Back Garden Project, one GOOD community member's effort to turn a neglected corner of the city into a thriving garden.

One challenge of my garden project has been figuring out how to incorporate edible produce. From the beginning, I planned for a garden that embraced the low-light and poor soil conditions by using native woodland plants. But that doesn't mean veggies are out of the question. For one, I've still managed a couple planters out back, home to slowly-growing onions, garlic, zuchini, and peas under the imperfect sunlight. But that's not all. As a short aside this week, I though I'd show a few of the simple little ways that one can still grow produce in a small Brooklyn apartment even without an ideal garden plot.

First, as you may have gleaned from the photo above, I've got some happy tomatoes up on my roof with the first few fruits coming in. The rooftop is hardly a space where you'd want to hang out (much less convert to full-scale agricultural productivity) but it has easy access and is the perfect spot for a few pots.

Inside, I'm putting my window sills to work. I've got some Genovese basil, chives, thyme, and oregano as well as some ancho and jalapeño peppers growing in my office. In the bedroom there are more peppers, another tomato plant (which I'll eventually move upstairs), and some flourishing lettuce. These are the only south-facing planting locations I've got and they seem to be working well, though because they're in direct sunlight in fairly small pots, the lettuce and tomato need almost constant watering.

In the kitchen window sill I have rosemary and parsley that seem to be doing okay with less than ideal lighting conditions. I've also attached this handy little Ikea pot to the window bars in the living room to hold some Thai basil.

Lastly, out back on the catwalk I've attached one of these handy suspendable "horse trough" planters (mine's from the sinister-sounding "CobraCo," sold at garden centers everywhere). It's holding some dill, basil, and nasturtium (the latter, for the uninitiated, is an amazingly delicious edible flower).

Combined with my bountiful farmshare from Windflower Farm (via the wonderful Clinton Hill CSA), these little additions of herbs, greens, tomatoes, and peppers should help provide food for at least a few meals a week. Which—who am I kidding?—is sadly about as much as most New Yorkers manage to eat at home anyway! Next time, back into the garden for some summertime maintenence.

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