Gardens are Springing up in Urban Areas

Tour My New York City Garden

by Guest Blogger, Meg Cotner of Harmonious Belly blog

Most people would never put “New York City apartment” and “gardening” in the same sentence. And that’s understandable, as NYC is known mostly for its skyscrapers, brownstones, and plenty of pavement. However, some NYC residents have found ways to garden – be it on their fire escapes, in community gardens, or if they are lucky, right in their own backyards.

I am fortunate enough to have a lot of space here in Queens. I live in Astoria, which is on the western edge of Queens – actually on the western edge of Long Island itself. After living in many apartments with no land, I was given the opportunity to rent an apartment that allowed me to do both container gardening as well as garden in the ground. And I couldn’t be happier!


A Collage of My Container Garden

Out on my back deck, I grow herbs, mostly. Right now I’m growing tarragon, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, mint, basil, and some chives that are on their way out. I’m also growing a tiny Candlelight Pepper plant. I’ve also got a Silver Fir tomato plant in a larger container.


Blondköpfchen Blossoms and Bumblebee

In the ground I grow myriad tomato varieties – Tommy Toe, Mexican Midget, Stupice, Silver Fir, and Blondköpfchen. The Blondköpfchen are particularly impressive with their massive number of flowers on one branch. The seed catalog stated “enormous yield” and so far it looks like it will be!

All tomato plants except the Silver Fir are indeterminate.


Tommy Toe Tomatoes

I also grew borage, which has been terrific for attracting bees and other pollinating insects. However, after the first big rain of the summer, the plants were not really able to hold themselves up, so they sprawl a bit in their area of the garden.

Speaking of sprawling, I had a volunteer squash plant appear as I started transplanting everything into the ground in the spring. I had no idea what it was at first, but as the months have gone on, I believe it’s a butternut squash plant. I love butternut squash, so this makes me very happy! It is taking over the garden, though, and extending onto the grass because there simply isn’t enough room for it in the garden bed itself.


Beautiful Borage Blossoms

A cucumber volunteer also showed up, and has been putting out many, many male flowers. This week, though, I’ve spotted a bunch of female flowers, so cucumbers should be coming along.

On the subject of cucumbers, I also planted something called Mexican Sour Gherkin, also known as “mouse melon” (I like that name). I have multiple climbing vines from only one plant, and it puts out tiny little cucumbers, about an inch long. I’ve tasted one so far and am in love. They are pleasantly sour. I can’t wait for more to mature!


Ground Cherry Plants are Huge This Year

Last year I grew ground cherries and most of them dropped while green, which means they didn’t taste very good. I’m not sure why. As a result, this year I got a lot of ground cherry volunteers. I had to pull out about three dozen, and left two.

The plants have grown twice the size this year compared to last. Also, they yellow fruit! Delicious progress.

I’m also growing peppers, including jalepeño and tolli, a mild Italian pepper. My neighbor gave me a few bean plants, which are slow going, winding their way up the fence.

On top of everything else, there is an apricot tree and a couple of fig trees hanging over into the backyard. I am taking advantage of this fruit and preserving it.

Thus ends the tour of my New York City garden. Thanks for checking it out!


Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner is a writer, blogger, gardener, musician and photographer, and real food advocate. She keeps a container garden and, thanks to the generosity of her landlords, she tends a garden plot in the backyard of her Astoria, Queens (NYC) apartment. You can read about her gardening adventures, and more, on her blog, Harmonious Belly.

Hartke is Online! is touring gardens this summer as part of the Sowing Millions Challenge.

If you aren’t gardening yet, it’s not to late. You can participate in our Sowing Millions campaign by fanning Seeds of Change in Facebook. If you already have a garden, share with the world your creation by posting photos of your garden on the wall of the Seeds of Change facebook page. Please include: (1) a photo caption and (2) a link to the Virtual Garden photo album:

Follow @seedsofchange in Twitter and every time you tweet about your garden, add to our conversation by using the hashtag, #sowingmillions. Once a month we do a tweet chat, so be on the lookout for the date and time of our next one.

To learn more about Seeds of Change, check out their listing under Gardening on the Hartke is Online! resources page.

This post is sponsored by Seeds of Change.