One beekeeper told me the hive they were harvesting from would yield about 40 pounds of honey! And that is after leaving more than half of the honey in the hives for the bees to and continue to add to for their winter stores.
Anyone in New York City can participate in a community garden. The requirements are simple: find a garden plot, apply and then have enough patience to wait until a space opens up. If the wait time is long, don’t fret since there are hundreds of plots around the city through NYC Parks Green Thumb.
GreenThumb Community Gardens started in New York City in the 1970’s. These gardens are located throughout the city and while they are fenced have access to the general public. The spaces are maintained by individuals who live on the block and have a range of styles and layouts.
If I had to rate my garden this season it would be a solid 10 out of 10. What can I say, I have a green thumb…. Or more likely the case, my neighbors helped guide me on what to plant, how to plant it, watering when I failed and generally making sure I had a great season.
And I think that’s the point. My little garden in central Harlem is a real community affair. Neighbors talk with each other. They ask how each other’s days were. Wait, wait. Talking? Asking? Genuine interest in your neighbor? In New York? No Way!
While contemplating what to plant in my garden box, tomatoes seemed like a natural choice. But what type of tomato should I plant?
I could have gone the heirloom route because few things in a garden are cooler than zebra tomatoes. San Marzano were next under consideration because this Italian gem is one of my favorites.
There was a raspberry bush in a park near my house where I grew up. I’ll point out this was very much a suburban park but we would go pick those raspberries during the summer months.
What is so immensely satisfying about this little act of foraging. Perhaps it takes us back to our original days searching for seeds and fruit to sustain us? Perhaps it is just simple pleasures that allow one to take something off a vine and be rewarded with that little pop of natural sweetness.
I thought of this episode as I walked down the block to my local community garden and picked some hearty Red Russian Kale from my little 4 ft. x 4 ft. garden plot. But what to do with this bounty (of 6 leaves?)
Kale carpaccio, kale salad, kale smoothie, raw? I actually don’t know if kale carpaccio is a thing but it sounded cool so someone should do that and send me a pic.
Every week the plants in my garden seem to grow 30% bigger. This city guy is learning a lot about plant care (and that my garden neighbors are probably going out of their way to help me out – I really shouldn’t have this much success….)
The first of the crop that I can actually use are my herbs (cilantro and parsley) Butter Lettuce and some Red Russian Kale. Again, my neighbors reminded me to start harvesting the lettuce leaves from the outside so new growth can come in.
I am amazed at the growth of my garden. In just a few weeks, the starter plants have really filled out and are racing toward the sky. I even had the opportunity to take a few lettuce leaves, chives and cilantro and add to sandwiches and guacamole. Pretty exciting start to the season.
There are about 20 other planter boxes in the garden so I have been taking the opportunity to see how everyone else is doing. The range of vegetables is fun to see. Everything from collards to tomatillos, sunflowers to strawberries. The garden community also decided to put in a raspberry bush, peach tree and grape vines for everyone to share.
Space comes at a premium in New York; we all know this to be true. Large outdoor park spaces such as Van Cortlandt, Central, Prospect, Latourette and Kissena are weekend havens for the millions of residents who live across the five boroughs.
In addition to public parks, there are community gardens interspersed in neighborhoods around the city. These gardens will generally have time scheduled for the general public but they also contain planter boxes for individual use.