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Archive for the ‘Window sill gardener’ Category

Last week John sent me a photo (see below) from home. A virile green shoot had burst through the tiny portal in my once-Ikea, toy bin now homemade kitchen composter. When I got home and lifted the lid, I saw that it wasn’t alone. In addition to my family of fruit flies (which are thankfully dying down as the weather gets colder) I also had a seedling farm. I wondered what I could be growing? Cantaloupe? Acorn Squash? Baby apple tree? Green pepper? I have wanted to add peppers to my indoor windowsill garden. Currently the garden is bursting with tomatoes and basil and I think a spicy jalapeno plant might be a nice and doable addition.

The compost is pretty mature. As I dug around I thought about how some life is desperate to continue, while other seeds and peels happily rot and return to the earth. The compost felt clumpy like clay, with a few sharp eggshells cutting through. It’s true; I inadvertently killed a few little green sprouts, but managed to extract one or two in tact. I replanted them with the herbs in the living room. It wonder if they will take. And if they do, what will the become? I guess time will tell.

In the process of my seedling excavation, I discovered the above treasure –– an errant whole clove of garlic that had been tossed and was clearly thriving.  If I never mentioned it, I don’t just love garlic, I’m a little in love with it. If I don’t have it, I crave it. But I had never thought about growing it. Until my compost bin served me this little offering.

I carefully extracted the garlic from the rest of the stuff. I re-potted the small, gnarly and tentacled thing in my hanging basket that had once held baby lettuce. According to a botanist friend, garlic does not need that much room. But in case, the Internet is right and it needs more room, the pot is pretty deep. Of course, it will take 6 months or so for me to find out if it will work, since garlic has a long maturation period. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Because if I could grow garlic and tomatoes in my living room, I would really be a happy renter.


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I have a funny relationship to my window-sill gardens. They are more like pets and less like food. Hence, my maternal pride for this lovely little beauty growing on southern-exposure living-room ledge. Last year, I grew a tomato and it was so gorgeous I didn’t pick it. It shriveled on the vine. This year, I still have my pot of chard, tons of herbs and some mint  — the mint and chard are doing very well in the shade of my sofa. I know it’s just a matter of habit. I have gotten into the habit of using my herbs — I used them all the time. But the tomato, since it’s rare, seems special. I promise I’ll pick it this year. Especially since, my other tomato plants have many other yellow flowers.

On Friday, we discovered this grapevine dangling next to Robert Jackson’s new office — the sign said it was also the Washington Heights Chamber of Commerce. First mulberries. Now grapes.  I guess the point is that many of us want to make things grow, despite the fact that we live in this highly urban concrete jungle. On the Fourth of July my friend Jamie and I bemoaned the fact that we couldn’t turn our roof into proper gardens — we all agreed that it would be mutually beneficial to both our landlord and ourselves. But we also agreed, it wasn’t going to happen so quickly.  I guess we need to continue to push to make it happen. And in the meantime, we will continue to fill the nooks and crannies of the city with soil to make things grow.

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My new compost seems to be doing much better. The worms are wiggling, fat and happy. And with the help of  a layer damp newspaper on the top, we have licked our  fruit fly problem. Tomorrow I will get more boxes from my father’s house and make that home-made worm box so that I can give the 2nd and 3rd grade class their rolly pollies and worms back.

In the meantime, I’m excited about the payback from my composting travails. As you see above, I am the proud farmer of a real live radish. In fact, my windowsill garden is doing great. With the exception of my thyme, my other herbs are thriving. The Swiss Chard my sister gave me last spring is growing healthy and strong. As the summer heat grew more chilly, the Swiss Chard really perked up. And even inside, it’s doing great. In early September, I planted a circle of radishes around the chard. And last week, I saw a red and white top starting to poke out. This weekend I hope to have my first harvest.

I read that with radishes you can stagger the plantings. So when I emptied the fruit-fly infested compost bin, I used my pot of compost to plant lettuce and more radishes. The seedlings are definitely sprouting and I’m very proud.

Is growing food in your living room urban farming? I’m not sure. I want to look into growing tomotos. But beyond that, I’m not sure how much more I’ll do. So for the moment,  fresh eggs or no fresh eggs, we are not getting a pet chicken.

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