Thanks Very Mulch, Neighbor


If you are the person that says, “why?” when someone says, “garden,” I have an answer for you.  I have been living in this house in Brooklyn for eleven years now.  Most of my gardening over these years has consisted of growing vegetables in the back, and planting other things like a peach tree, a cherry tree, and what I believed (until today) to be elderberry bushes.  My frontyard gardening consisted of little more than putting in a couple hostas that a neighbor gave me when I first moved in.  Those hostas, with little care and no prodding, have gone forth and multiplied, as all good hostas do.  When I looked at them a couple weeks ago, I realized I was the only thing holding them back; they needed room to grow and since they’ve no feet, they needed me to move them.

So I have ventured to frontyard gardening and need both hands and feet to count the number of neighbors I’ve met since I started, barely two weeks ago.  Today, lo and behold, I met the son of my next-door neighbor, who answered in 30 minutes what might take me several weeks of posting these questions to accomplish: the elderberries I was going to begin harvesting for wine this year are, as it turns out, dogwoods (I still need to confirm this – will post a pic later b/c I didn’t think that dogwoods grew berries but I’m not really sure); my hostas are hardier than I thought and can probably survive that shady patch close to the house where no other plant could make it; the little flower bush which popped out of nowhere a few years ago is actually a non-native invasive plant (my jury’s still out on the degree of importance of native vs. exotic – at least in small time gardening like mine – and, if I have a native that’s growing on its own and still rather pretty, maybe I should just let it be — taking opinions on that one too).  Along with bits of wisdom that came from his own experiences as a prize-rose-grower and several years working for NYC Parks Dep’t., he also gifted me with some beautiful black gold, pictured above.  Most importantly, he introduced me to my across-the-street neighbors, his mother and aunt, an octogenarian and noctogenerian who keep their front yard more pristine and pretty than any probably any other on the block.  I’m not sure if it was the introduction from their kin that made me okay in their eyes or the fact that I was finally tending my – we won’t say neglected but rather left to nature – yard.  Either way, it occurred to me that the adage “love thy neighbor” is good, but you gotta know them first.

QUESTION: what are some of the fringe benefits of gardening?  If you garden, what have you gotten from it that maybe you didn’t expect at first?  If you want to garden, what keeps you from it?  If we were to start a campaign to encourage more people to garden, what benefits – both obvious and hidden – are there that might might sway more folks to dig in the dirt?  How does gardening make you a happier person?  Or doesn’t it?  Go ahead…gimme the dirt.

There’s No Turning Back Now, Folks

Welcome to the other side of the predicted Great Earthquake and concomitant (this-time-it’s-for-real) Judgment Day.  A sick side of me turned on the telly Saturday night to catch news coverage of fallen faces as the world, undeterred, insisted on existing, same as before, despite these guys’ predictions of the Great End.  Karma must’ve been wagging her fat finger at me, for I couldn’t find the coverage I was looking for on any of the usual suspsects: CNN, CNBC, or even Fox “News.”  I did find, to my delight, a channel on DirecTV that plays all the news all at once, letting you arrow over a box to hear the sound.  Just when my partner suggested I search online, I caught myself and stopped, thought better.

They’ll have a hard enough time of it, I realized, trying to get back the jobs they quit, the husbands and wives and – some of them – kids deserted on their quest to announce the end, the life savings they blew through like there was no tomorrow, quite literally, without all the rest of us nyah-nyahing them.   Besides, they probably did us prediction disbelievers a favor.  It’s not a bad thing to be reminded of our immortality, inspires us to update that bucket list, maybe pick a new plant to grow, really activate the compost, or perhaps even just appreciate that we’re still here.

My partner turned to me Saturday about 7 p.m. or so and said, “I’m glad you’re still here,” teasing me over this little obsession I’ve grown sort of fond of harboring.

Getting to a question, not so much gardening related but it’s been bugging me since I started thinking about it earlier today …. I wonder if news outlets have canned coverage for when/if the world does end.  I remember hearing that the BBC had prepared a broadcast many years ago after Orson Welles participated in the radio performance of H.G. Wells’ 1984 and it caused panic among audiences who thought it was for real, even getting some people so freaked out and, realizing it was theater, pissed off that they tried to storm the station.  I heard that folks at the station had to whisk Welles out the back and sneak him away to safety, kind of like a modern-day Justin Bieber but with the oddly adoring fans being an angry mob, and without the hair.  I also heard that the BBC prepared this tape which reassured people everything was okay, telling them not to panic, we’ve been invaded by aliens, or some other catastrophe had struck.  I heard that the most challenging piece for BBC to figure out was how to reassure people once the tape started to loop and then wouldn’t people REALLY start to freak, realizing it wasn’t live?  I also think they released the tape not too long ago, but I’m not sure with what/whether they replaced or updated it.


I am wondering, do major stations in the States have anything like that ready to go now?  Do you think they did when all this Great Quake chatter started up?  If you know, divulge!  Give us all the dirt … tell us: is there a canned broadcast ready for the end of the world?  How about in print?  Do newspapers have a story ready to run in case the Great Big End begins?  How is the media preparing to tell the poor saps who are left what the heck just happened, and what to do next?  Who are the experts called in to comment?  Do they know they’re on deck?

“Um, Father Joseph, is it okay if we call ya if, like, if the pale horse shows up round here?  Can you, uh, you know, give some words to the peoples?”

“And what makes you think I’m still going to be here?”

“Well, you’s Catholic, ain’t ya?”

QUESTION: should I plant my tomatoes in the ground or in boxes on the ground?  If boxes, how deep?  And, please someone tell me if there’s a canned broadcast for the end of the world as we know it (yes, yes, granted every day is the end of the world as we know it, as is every moment but you know what I mean).  Are there pre-drafted articles for an alien invasion?  How about the Great Quake – is there another story ready for that one?  Go ahead…gimme the dirt.

Jury’s Still Out

Hi fellow revelutionnaires.  I have a split vote on whether to use smelly Plant-tone with white wormy bugs in it.  Split right down the middle and, despite having called headquarters to get an answer from the Source itself, no one from Espoma called me back today.  Hoping to hear something soon.  In the meantime, still taking votes….

Old Plant-tone – Use or Toss (as in, not in the garden)

Hi all,  I was planning to use some leftover Plant-Tone ( from last year but when I unrolled the bag, I saw a bunch of small, mealy, wormy looking white bugs, and it smelled bad.  I know that, generally, when something smells bad, that’s just not good – but, this being organic plant food/fertilizer and all, I’m thinking maybe it’s ok?  Advice??? p.s. left a message with the company – based in NJ – but I’m gardening today.  General, follow-up question to this is – if you’re not going to use something in your garden (like this or the wild onions I was thankfully swayed away from – gracias, Ron y Megan), should it also stay out of the compost?

Gee, Dad, that’s great.


“the Greatest Ever”? As in kick your ass great? As in no whammies great? As in big money great? As in Tony the Tiger great? 

As in, Gee Dad that’s great.  Thanks … FOR RUINING MY LIFE! 

(as in it’s great that I don’t have a five-year old to explain this one to — as seen on 7th Ave, Park Slope, today)

Quick, Quick, While It’s Not Raining

Has anyone seen little wild onions growing in their Brooklyn yard or garden lately?  These little spermazoidal looking creatures have taken over my front yard.  Just when I was getting all excited that they must be native, and was about to introduce them out back where persistently naked patches of dirt abound, I suddenly realized they may be vicious invaders, ready to choke out the handful of natural inhabitants residing back there. 

QUESTION: should I plant these mystery onions out back (they grow so quickly and look kinda yummy)?  Or is it ecoirresponsible, since I’m not yet sure from whence they came?  Also, ya think it’s ok to eat them?  (Yes, I’m aware that after the various questions I’ve posed here, I’ll never have dinner friends again). 

One more quickie: I went ahead and bought a $20.00 rose bush from my local florist/plant shop, Shannon’s on Fort Hamilton Parkway (it was, after all, only 20 bucks, and I read somewhere that some roses are native to New York – it’s getting late for me to be too picky on the native plant front).  I’ve already clipped a couple whose beautiful pink roses have quickly wilted when just placed in water in a short glass. 

QUESTION: how do you extend the longevity of clipped roses, and is there any use for them other than their prettiness?  Like, where are the rose hips and how do I get them in my tea???