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???


It was good. Thanks for the dirt, Brooklyn Dirt.

For more usefulness, check out the links below.  The evening started out with a presentation by Marielle Anzelone, who said she worked as a botanist for New York City until about three years ago, and the position hasn’t been filled since.  She gave very useful answers to why native plants are important, though I think the second part of the night, led by Chris Kreussling may have been more pertinent to my purposes, essentially concerning what I can put in my front yard without feeling like an ecocriminal.  I think for my yard/garden, I may hunt down the highbush blueberry and maybe some wild geraniums.  One take-away, though, is that you can’t rely on Home Depot or Lowe’s or even a local garden spot to know what’s native and what’s wise to grow in your garden.  Luckily, Chris promises that his site has a link to retailers who know their native plants.  Overall, it was a one greenthumbs up for the one part of the evening I caught, and I’m sure it would have been two had I stuck around for more.  As it was, I had to get home to a sick kid, and my friend’s kid had to get home to bed.

Sycamore, a flowershop/bar on Cortelyou was good enough to let the kid come along, even though the announcement said 21+.  By the end of the first part of the evening, though, we were all ready to go.  We had a good walk home in the rain.  We kicked around the question whether trying to save our ecosystem with native plants in a little plot of land makes any difference in light of the bigger destruction going on around us.  My neighbor’s son asked if I had a car (I thought maybe he was getting tired of riding on his scooter in the rain).  “No,” I said.  “Well, okay.”  He said it so definitively, like I was on the right track to saving the earth.  Just like that.  He may be right.  Maybe it’s all way simpler than we know.  We also considered whether it might not be better to just throw up our hands, recognize there’s no turning back the clock on the damage that’s done and simply try to find a better way to work with it rather than lament its loss.  It was a pretty quick walk. Only 15 minutes or so … another few minutes more and I’m certain we’d have the answer.

QUESTION(S): what are you doing to make your little difference – in your garden or elsewhere? What do you wish you would be doing? What do you wish other people would be doing? If we could save the world and our little ecosystems by having every person do one thing, what would it be? Should we just throw up our hands and plant kudzu in the concrete? What’s your take? Go ahead…gimme the dirt.

LINKS:  sustainableflatbush.org & flatbushgardener.blogspot.com & marielleanzelone.squarespace.com


Once again, courtesy of my most very good neighbor: Dirt Talk Four: Native Plants.  Prospect Farm and Sustainable Flatbush are proud to present Brooklyn Dirt: Monthly Talks on Urban Farming and Gardneing. 

May 18th, 7-9:30 p.m., Downstairs @ Sycamore Bar & Flowershiop (21+).  1118 Cortelyou Rd. (Q train to Cortelyou).  $5 suggested donation (for a good purpose).

Rain be damned, I’m back in love with you, Brooklyn.

If There’s a Summer Reading List

On rainy days like this week, I like to think about when the slugs have slithered or been salted away, when my garden will be all lush and beautiful, full of flowers in bloom and meticulously cultivated organic juicy red tomatoes whisper, “eat me, eat me,” (yours say that too, right?).  Yes, these soggy days I drift in my mind to when I will finally feel the tickle of perfect, pesticide-free, native grasses beneath my feet, and I will lord over my bounty, a steamy cup of morning joe in hand, gently brewed from individually selected, hand-picked, shade grown, fairly traded, equally exchanged, peacefully planted coffee beans lovingly smuggled from some distant corner of the globe, when bounty bursts forth from each bud in each hand-painted, Gaudi-inspired mosaic-print pot.  Well, maybe not all that.  But I do get through these days without a trowel thinking about what, other than gardening, I will be doing with my long summer days (besides pecking away at my desktop under flourescent glowlights, day in, day out, thinking about what I could be doing with those long summer days).  And that, naturally, turns to reading.  

Assuming those weird Canadians (thanks for the link, Bronwen – see Armagarden post comments below) are wrong, and no one will be whisked needlessly away into the unfeeling blue yonder by an unloving god, I think it’s time we talk summer reading list.  Top of mine is “What Would Google Do,” by Jeff Jarvis.  I’m only twenty pages in but I’m hooked.  I think it’ll be a perfect subway read (being realistic, for those of us not fortunate enough to have a home in the Hamptons or anywhere but our concrete slab of this city, it’s just more practical to think in terms of a subway read rather than beach books).  More on this later but the skinny is it’s about Google, the first “post-media company,” what it’s doing right, and what other companies can learn from it.  Although it’s early to tell, I’m pretty sure he’s also sending out a warning signal to all the rest of the companies who think they can keep doing business as used-to-be: we’re in a new era, folks.  And the old ways just aren’t cutting it.  But, it may take many a more company to flounder and sputter about before that message gets through.  I’m also putting on my list Just Kids, the Patti Smith memoir, just ‘cuz, and maybe…not sure what else.  How about you?

QUESTION: what’s on your list?  What will you be reading this summer?  What’s the last book you read?  Are you glad you did?  Was it on a  Nook, Kindle or in your good, old-fashioned hands?  What are you reading now?  Any suggestions for a good gardening book (tall order, I know, but one worth filling). 

(I just picked up How to Grow Practically Everything by Zia Allaway and Lia Leendertz, DK Publishing 2010, which is a great book to have on hand, easy to peruse & good how-to photos, and also am flipping through, courtesy of my most very cool neighbor, Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich regarding how to give the earth a break and grow above ground, like on newspapers and clippings – inneresting but not sure it’s for me.  I like to dig in the dirt, what can I say?  We’ll see. )

LINKS: http://www.buzzmachine.com/,/ (Jeff Jarvis’s blog)


This being the last Sunday supposedly as we know it, I made sure to get my butt into church today, or my favorite Brooklyn version of one anyway.  And thus I found myself this evening in Williamsburg at Pete’s Candy Store, discussing Kindles and the impending would-be apocolypse with the offspring of the famed televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.  After the service, in the bar that is home to Revolution Church, Jay Bakker was reassuringly unfamiliar with the details of the prophecies promising to upend us in a matter of days.  “Oh, that’s this week, right?  Yeah, I totally forgot about that.”  Thankfully, the sermon as well was devoid of any nod to the obviously well-funded doomsayers who have begun to draw the attention of more mainstream media.  On NPR this week, I listened, wishing it was a joke, to a young couple with a baby who are using up their life savings because they are certain they won’t be here on May 22.  It’s not that there won’t be a May 22, they say, it’s just that they expect that they, themselves, won’t be here.  Let’s hope that proverbial needle guarding the gates of heaven is as wide-eyed as they are.  Jay told me about being twelve years old and anticipating an upcoming day identified by Nostradamus to be the big End.  Having survived that, he isn’t too worried about such prophecies anymore.  My mother, also, told me about one of these they had when she was a girl, and how skin was thickened after many of her classmates, certain it would be the last time they saw each other, came face to face the next day, rabidly denying they had ever believed what they had rapturously professed just the day prior.  Like Jay, she recalled the particular source of the end-of-world rumors, but the current doomsday soothsayers remain oddly murky in their identity.  Who are these people bankrolling the proclamations on subway billboards, city buses, and even national commercials to announce yet another Judgment Day?  And why do they bother if, as they say, there’s nothing we can do about it anyway since it’s a private party, and the invitations are already engraved?  Some of the folks at Pete’s Candy Store speculated it might be a movie in the making.  I’m wondering if Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck aren’t behind the camera somewhere, hoping for a shot at redemption for their failed mockumentary on Joaquin’s supposed quick-change career leap from acting to rapping.  Maybe this is the sequel, and they’re working out the name, and it’ll focus on all those left behind… “I’m Still Here, Part II,  Joaquin Phoenix in the Rap-ture.”  Speaking of Joaquin, he’s an official vegan. 

QUESTION: if you’re having a dinner party, and you’re feeding vegans, can you feed them food grown using compost that has ice cream and meat-eater’s urine in it, or, at least what once was ice cream (yes, of course, cow’s milk or I wouldn’t be asking) and meaty pee?  I need some experts to weigh in here, so if you’re like me and totally absolutely in the dark on this stuff, you are precisely the person I’m looking for…go ahead, gimme the dirt.

Links: http://www.revolutionnyc.com/

Countdown to Armageddon: six days left in the garden

Okay, so we’re all wondering, right?  Will there be any fewer greenthumbs hanging around the garden on May 22?  Since most city gardeners are of the earthy paganistic ilk, doubtful.  But, still, living each day as if it were the last (and especially the next six days since they’re said to be the last for all the God-fearing girls and boys), let’s get right down to business: what’s the best activator for compost?  If I want my compost to decompose faster than Charlie Daniels can give the devil his due, I think it’s time to pull out all the stops on the baddest activator around.  That’s right, it’s time for the golden showers.  I don’t know what made me first start thinking about piss as a viable component of the compost pile I’ve been building for the last few years in my Brooklyn backyard … might have come to me when I was picking up another pile of dog poo, or wondering if there weren’t a better use for the two-year old bottle of vinegar in my cupboard, or who came up with the toilet that wastes so damn much water for no apparent good reason, or might have been just the process of elimination that got me thinking I should research whether piss on the pile could do any good at all.  And, of course, if a pissy pile of compost put beneath my bed of carefully selected organic greens just might make the Eternal Footman really bust a gut….  My research yielded mixed results, but fortunately it didn’t leave me totally high and dry.  Although I may still be swayed away from the practice, for the first time today, I dumped all my liquid eliminations on my mounding pile of rot, and saved an approximate 15 gallons of water in the process.    (For all those not in-the-know, wiki.answers.com estimates 1.6 g for “newer more efficient toilets” [apparently those kinds that now come without commas] but up to four or more gallons per flush for older models…my toilet being in a typical rowhouse built circa 1907 with a bathroom updated on the cheap in approximately 2006, I’m estimating I’m a three-gallon-a-flush girl, and was pretty flush today).

So, until I am convinced otherwise, I will piss away these last few days, and either leave behind some beautiful black gold to help all those poor souls left to fend for themselves when the last of the supermarkets are closed, or I may be right alongside them, wondering if I can’t taste something a little extra tangy in those carrots.

It’s the last call — six days left to weigh in for me putting my pee-pee on the pile or pouring it back in the porcelain water waster.  Answers?  Musings?  Links?   Go ahead – gimme the dirt.