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A Few Samples of Harvests PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 03 October 2011 10:03

Here are a few shots of some typical harvests from the garden. Veggies and greens are usually picked right before meal prep. These are from the 6' by 4' garden box.

city garden grown vegetables

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 February 2012 11:21
Garden Spaces PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 October 2011 08:32

Urban Grotto Garden
As the summer draws to a close, I'm spending as much time outside as possible. Soon it will be time to plant the bulbs for next spring. Another idea is to start planning ideas for next spring. If you are a city dweller and are starved for some green, take a good look at what space you do have. We've built a sort of urban grotto/patio in front of our urban row house. When we bought our place the front yard was a grass and glass strewn hump of land. We cleared the bushes and weeds out of the area next to our stoop and put a bench under the grape arbor we put in. We put in slate and created a little path and this mini patio. A climbing honeysuckle vine and Asian Lilac make it is pretty private. With the addition of a water garden and a fountain, you’ve got a formula for urban serenity.

With a sharp eye, survey your urban space and you might be able to carve out your own little quiet spot. Try putting up a lattice against a bare wall and hanging pots of flowers, small veggies or herbs. You could move or consolidate trash cans and yard tools into a storage container thus turning what had been an eyesore into space you can reclaim for yourself. If you've got a balcony check out Citydiggity.com or lifeonthebalcony.com to see some ideas on what can be done with a balcony. Check out the links page here for links to more urban garden space ideas.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 February 2012 11:23
Autum is coming PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 16 September 2011 13:50
autumn moonflower

Here's a little poem for Autumn

Summer's End

The spider spins its silken thread
flocks of monarchs now descend
the swallow tails, tiger and night
are ending now their wandering flight
wisps of marestails sweep the sky
and speed travel of the dragonfly
crickets chirp
their evening plight
while my garden lair
leaves the spider
its silken snare

Carol Nissen copyright 2012

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 February 2012 11:26
One Tough Little Water Lily PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 05 September 2011 17:22

Pictured on the first page of My City Garden is a water lily I've had since my daughter was one. I bought the water garden as a hobby and it's been with me ever since, withstanding skunk and raccoon invasions in Westchester County, NY and various bird, skunk and critter invasions in my present location of Jersey City.

Last year the Helvola miniature lily was dragged out and the root tuber left on the sidewalk by what appears to have been a bird. I popped it back in its pot and waited. And waited and waited. Finally, I had leaves and flowers again after about two months.

This year I moved the little Helvola lily into the larger tub with the other larger lilies mistakenly believing it would be safer. Back in June I awoke to another water garden debacle. This time even the poor trapdoor snails were taken leading me to believe it was a raccoon because the snail shells were cracked. The raccoons are a little more advanced in their dining techniques and able to eat clams and other water dwellers.

Once again the poor little lily was nothing but a scrap of tuber and one little leaf. Why target this one when so many larger ones were available? Demon varmint. Visions of high-power water pistols and mace danced in my head but I wasn't up to staying up all night to confront the wildlife here.

So I took the tuber, planted it in a small pot put the pot in a kitchen pot of water and placed that on the Aerogarden to use the light. And waited. And waited. Finally leaves started to appear but they didn't look like Helvola leaves at first. Oh no, I thought, maybe it was one of the other lilies in a sprout state and not my beloved little yellow lily. Well, I waited some more and wanted to put the lily back in its little tub but didn't want it to be a snack for a raccoon again.

The little tub garden is only about a foot or so across. Something flashed in my mind - a barbecue grill in the basement lying by the outdoor stuff. Hmm. Time to put the coated green wire fencing on the large tub to thwart the furry varmints and maybe the grill would fit over the little tub garden. Turns out the grill fit almost exactly. Best part is the tub handles hold the grill down further interfering with hungry furry critters.

water lily

The photos here are of the newly flowering lily and one of the grill that stays on the small tub overnight now. The larger garden has the flexible green wire over it. It's nighttime garden lockdown up here on the cliff opposite lower Manhattan. It is 20 years and counting for the little Helvola lily.

Helvola water lily
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 February 2012 11:29
Why I love the summer PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 August 2011 10:55

I love the abundance of the dwarf pear tree. This is the third year it has produced loads of fruit that has to be given away to my neighbors, family and friends. These are tasty Bartlett pears that I love yellow but some of my Filipino neighbors prefer to eat them crunchy and green. The tree was so laden down before the hurricane we removed most of the fruit so it wouldn't be blown off and wasted. I now have 4 brown paper Trader Joe bags filled with them.

summer pears

summer fruits and vegetables

Here is a kind of windowsill still life representing what else I love about summer. Early on, when I started this website/blog about urban gardening I received some criticism for the idea. One person commented, "But you are only growing handfuls of food!" (Why bother was the subtext here). Maybe the "handfuls" are what the point is. I won't always have fresh basil and tomatoes but when I do you can bet they are going into a salad, pesto or topping for margarita pizza. When I have Swiss chard or Beet greens, they substitute for Red Sails Lettuce that doesn't do well in the heat. The radishes and peppers are a spicy addition to a salad when the little sweet onions are gone. This makes summer eating more interesting. Spring is great too with Snow Peas, onions, lettuce, as is the fall with Kale, Beets, Radishes, etc.

The point is, I am eating what is available from my garden when it's available and I adjust the menu to accommodate what's available. This is similar to "eating deep in the season", meaning you eat what's there when it's there. I've seen this idea alluded to in reading about Europe. We, of course, are not going to replace the supermarket with urban gardening but we are going to be enjoying the special foods we grew ourselves. Growing and eating some of your own food also ties in with the idea of the 100 Mile Diet. This makes even more sense as gasoline prices start to climb again.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 February 2012 11:33
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photo: Jeannie Cote


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