Even before I moved to New York City, I was a City Girl. If I wanted a tomato plant, I went to the nursery and bought a little weedy thing, stuck it in the ground and hoped for the best. If I wanted basil, I went to Trader Joe’s and got the whole plant already grown – ta-da, fresh pesto! When I wanted vegetables and herbs beyond that, I went to the market, plonked down some cash and brought home my bounty in an eco-friendly, reusable string bag, feeling oh-so virtuous for supporting local farmers and for eating healthy, fresh food.
Last Saturday I was introduced to a whole new level of healthy, fresh and homemade – I was at The Seed Exchange!
It’s no secret that I’m not an expert gardener and I don’t have a NYC roof garden of my own, but in February, I was asked to take over the reins at the New York Roof Garden Meetup group (http://www.meetup.com/The-New-York-Roofdeck-and-Roofgardening-Meetup-Group/). To create meaningful events, I began listening to experienced roof gardeners. It was late February, they were planning their summer array and were going to begin sprouting seeds indoors in early March. They wanted a seed exchange event!
I put the word out on our Meetup site, and we were offered a wonderful home/roof where the event was hosted. Members (by the way, it’s free and anyone can be a member, please join!) brought saved seeds, half-used seed packets, scions, cuttings and even grape vines. Nathalie, who hosted, had already begun her seed sprouting and we were all envious of her scores of sprouts perking up through the soil in her sunny windowsills, destined for life on her rooftop garden as soon as they mature a bit more and we get past the threat of more winter frost – which sounds silly when it’s 70 degrees this evening!
The excitement and chit-chat amongst these gardeners who grow from seeds was intoxicating! They were carefully putting seeds in envelopes, sharing tips on what grows best and what to do with shiso, which apparently grows like crazy on a NYC roof (the word is to put it on a New York bagel with lox and cream cheese).
After exchanging seeds and ideas, Nathalie took us up to her roof garden and then the real envy began – she still has fresh oregano, rosemary and lavender. Besides smelling amazing, it attracts the bees and gardens need pollinators!. Berry and cherry trees are dormant but will come back to life soon. Kyle, our youngest attendee who came with his gardening dad, was excited to find worms in one of the planters.
I came downstairs and resolved to plant a window box from seed. I gathered up my little labeled and sealed envelopes with nasturtium (edible flowers that will drape down), bush blue lake garden beans (they will grow up on a string) and, of course, sweet basil, which will be bushy and fill in the middle. I was also promised cuttings of rosemary and oregano once the window box is ready to go. Nathalie is helping me get my seeds started this weekend. I’m going to be a window box gardener! In a couple of months, LOOK UP on W. 11th Street and see how it’s growing.
I’m learning that gardeners are planners. I’ve been asked to create a late summer Seed Saving class so we can share our favorites and prepare for the March 2013 seed exchange. With 70 degree weather outside tonight, it feels like end of summer is right around the corner.