Some may find it hard to believe, but this is happening in Brooklyn:
Yes, we have a farm. I use the term loosely, but since it’s as close to a farm as we will ever get, that’s how we refer to it. Dave and I, like many folks, have recently become more aware of and concerned about where our food comes from. Maybe that’s due to having a kid and wanting to ensure we’re feeding his little body the best stuff we can. Besides that, I’ve always had this romantic vision of stepping outside, plucking a few ripe vegetables off the plants and then, without wasting a minute, going to the kitchen and whipping up a simple, yet delicious meal.
For these reasons, the decision to give up our precious outdoor space to grow edibles was not a hard one, but we were well aware it would mean the end of other wonderful things we used to do back there. Big outdoor gatherings with friends and family in a large, unobstructed space would be no more. Opening the back door, allowing Nate to ride his bike and basically wreak havoc on our deck would be a thing of the past. Large and raised beds would now take over a highly-used open area. And, not only that, our previously open space would be full of living, breathing things that need to be cared for.
With lots of help from our friends at Foras (our garden designers, www.foras-studio.com) we came up with a list of what to plant. When making our choices, general rules of thumb that we used were: plants that do well in our climate, fruits and vegetables that we use lots of, others that are hard to find and others that are expensive at the farmer’s market ($8 for a container of strawberries that Nate devours in 20 minutes?!) Some plants would be started from seed (courtesy of www.highmowingseeds.com) and others would be planted as seedlings from Silver Heights Farm in Cochecton Center on Long Island (www.silverheightsfarm.com).
Then the fun began. Choosing plant cultivars (gardener speak for ‘varieties’) was like choosing flavors at a Baskin Robbins. We spent hours perusing the lists of options. Trust me, there are 10x more than you can even imagine. Easy decisions these were not. How could we possibly choose between Boothby’s Blonde, Spacemaster and Straight Eight cucumbers? The folks that come up with names for nail polish could learn a thing or two from these catalogs.
In the end, we sowed seeds for pikolino cucumbers, Maxibel haricot vert, Valentine’s Day radishes and cosmic purple carrots, among other things. We planted seedlings galore for all sorts of cultivars including Burmese Looking to the Sky peppers (yes, there is such a thing!), flagpole scallions, Tsakoniki eggplant, tangella tomatoes and vertissimo chervil.
Our new morning ritual, with coffee mugs in hand, is all three of us stepping outside to see what magical thing occurred overnight. Each day, there is some wonderful, marvelous change to take note of. Sometimes it's significant and sometimes it's subtle. This, I suppose, is part of the beauty and reward of gardening.
The other part is watching Nate pluck a fresh pea off the vine and munch away. I beam with joy each time.