Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The Garden in May
My obsessions cycle and loop with the seasons. Does that make me unfocused? Looking through cookbooks, cooking a good meal, gardening, cooking with things from my garden, figuring out where to travel next, reading books set in India, figuring out how to get back to India, finding new stuff to do in Paris.
Figuring out what to do next with my business. Figuring out how to make my business socially responsible. When I'm deep in the design process, it's designing jewelry. I bet if a yearly graph was made, these obsessions would coincide with the seasons and even months. Makes sense.
In May it's gardening.
Gardening has inspired a few past Bonbon collections so I've been getting the garden ready for summertime relaxing and the Spring 2008 Collection (still procrastinating). Here are some of the pictures of my garden --especially my new tomato plants! I started planting about 2 weeks ago and I've been filling in the holes, literally, slowly. I like to get most of my plants from the Greenmarket in Union Square on Wednesdays, when my pal Trina from Silver Heights Farms is there. She has great organic seedlings and all the trailing flowers I love, like sweet peas and nasturtium. Anyway, by late July, these babies in the pictures will be unruly. We have a tiny patio off our first floor Brooklyn apartment and my landlady, who is an amazing gardener in the English rose garden sense, gave me a very small patch of soil to plant whatever I want. I plant tomatoes and peppers there, like a salsa garden, and turn the soil over each year so they keep coming up. Five years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I actually didn't know that tomatoes would grow from the the tiny yellow flowers on the tomato plants so picked them off. I thought they would inhibit the growth of the tomatoes.
What I've learned in five years:
1. Not to trust the soil in this part of Brooklyn, but they say it's OK for fruit bearing plants, maybe because fruits don't grow directly in the soil. Your thoughts?2. Herbs planted in containers have a more intense flavor. This year I have marjoram and rosemary, basil, thyme and sage. I keep more kinds of tomatoes and peppers in containers as well and then windowboxes around the patio with trailing edible plants, like violas and pansies and nasturtium, which are lovely in summer salads. I plant nasturtium and morning glories from seeds, so by summer there's a whole new bunch of colors trailing down the ugly black iron railing.3. I also keep lots of chives and lavender, which is supposedly good to keep pests away from the tomatoes as are marigolds!
4. I only use organic tomato and herb food and it stinks because it's made from fish meal but the vegetables LOVE it. They get really big whenever I feed them. Now Home Depot sells organic food but I usually get it mail order.
5. Keep a lettuce pot. I saw a great picture in a book once of an old bathtub planted with lettuces and it inspired me to plant my own, although I used an old galvanized steel tub, much smaller of course. Once you pick it all off , you can reseed throughout the summer for salads off the cuff. This is called staggering I think.
6. Don't pick the little flowers off of the peppers and tomatoes. Duh, those are the fruits.
7. Don't overplant your plot (just figured that out this year--it gets pretty exciting shopping for seeds and seedlings). By midsummer, I always wish I had learned that lesson. This year I think I finally got it. 8. Container gardening can but needn't take great attention. They can get dry quickly so I learned this cool recycling trick: cut the bottoms off plastic water bottles and punch little holes in the bottom of them. Then you dig a hole in your containers, pop the bottle bottom in and fill with water to keep soil drinking longer (see pic below). Covering the top of the soil with mulch helps to keep soil moist as well and this year I just discovered this stuff called Hydrosource, which looks like salt, you sprinkle it in your soil mix and it plumps up in the soil to keep it moist much longer-it's awesome. I'm pretty sure it's an organic compound because my landlady gave it to me and she's organic all the way.9. Do you have any garden wisdom? Bring it on...