One of the most appealing features of my new second-floor Brooklyn apartment is the stairway down to the garden. And a couple of days after I moved in I found out that I could do a little planting too. Last winter I conferred with Mrs. S., my landlady, and she told me, “Plant anything you like but no trees.” I ordered seeds (enough to plant sever acres), and made plans for a large herb garden with a few selected vegetables.
I have a long-ago history of gardening from when I still lived at home. My parents were both avid indoor and outdoor gardeners and we had several fruit and ornamental tress, shrubs, and a few tomato and basil plants every year.
As a teenager I became interested in herbs and started collecting plants, seeds, and cuttings. I think we got up to about 40 different edible herbs including some unusual ones like wormwood, hyssop, and elecampane.
Today’s garden was put together mainly with herb plants purchased at the Union Square Greenmarket and some seeds from both American seed houses and my favorite gardening shop in Zurich, Samen Mauser. My next-door neighbor Paul, who was born on a farm in Crete, has contributed plants and much teaching of technique and good advice. Paul knows his stuff and grows a small farm’s worth of vegetables and herbs in a 500 square foot plot slightly larger than mine.
Here’s the current lineup:
- Lemon balm
- Lemon verbena (potted)
- Oregano, common
- Pennyroyal (used in a pasta sauce in the town where my mother was born)
- Rosemary (in a large pot)
- Savory, winter
- Beans, French (haricots verts)
- Beans, wax (yellow)
- Cucumbers, French (cornichons)
- Mustard greens (from Paul, called “vlida” in Greek
- Tomatoes, assorted
- Zucchini (also from Paul)
Volunteers found in the garden
- Fig tree
- Pear tree
It’s quite a bit to keep after but it’s both relaxing and rewarding. Having a garden again after more than 40 years is just what the doctor ordered!