Tag Archive: urban gardening

State of the Garden

The grapes are starting to bunch, and for the first time, the kiwi is covered with buds.  Two of the tomato plants have their first flowers.  Snow peas are climbing up the trellises.  Carrots, spring onions, radishes, and beans are sprouting.  There are plenty of cool weather greens and herbs for eating already.  The red roses are blooming.  I pray for sufficient rain.


Today In and From the Garden

It is time to pay attention to the garden, to watch closely whether it will be a warmer fall or whether there will be an early frost.  Yesterday, there was a chance of temperatures in the mid-30’s F in the next few days.  Now, the first day below 38F (which is when I bring in the hardiest of the tropicals–they like to get nights in the 40s F, but not the 30’s F) is toward the end of the 15-day forecast.  I gambled that temperatures would stay warm enough until the next time I would be able to spend the hour and  a half moving plants inside.  It is best when I can do it on a weekend, but in a pinch I have done it first thing in the morning instead of my  regular practice before starting the work day.  I wait until the last minute because the plants are so much happier outside.  They don’t mind four months inside, they are ok with five, and they start really suffering at six months.  This means I watch closely danger of first and last frost to keep the plants outside as long as possible.

Some things, such as the impatiens and begonias that I was taught  by my paternal grandmother to bring inside as cuttings to root in winter and then replant in spring start struggling outside when lows are steadily in the 40’sF, which is why I did the cuttings today.  The tomatoes are still producing, so I have not yet switched the raised beds from tomatoes to hardy greens, but the seeds I planted when I pulled up the peppers and the eggplant are starting to come up.

Today’s harvest included:  Cherokee purple, roma, and cherry tomatoes, green beans, baby butternut squash, thai hot chili peper, white and orange carrots to eat now; sweet herbs to dry for infusions–stevia, licorice mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, spearmint.  Coming up:  spinach, chard, turnip greens.



This Week’s Garden Highlights

Basil, persimmon tomatoes, plum tomato, saqweet banana pepper, turenip and greens, tricolor carrots (the white are maturing much faster than the orange and the red), anaheim peppwer, okra, jalapeno pepper. (Not shown: grapes, kale, and the three cucumbers I had midweek, one of which still needs to be eaten).

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


Some Highlights From This Morning in the Garden

Included in what is not shown:  the tomatoes I ate before I brought the camera outside and the herbs I used to flavor the salads I made for dinner.


What’s For Breakfast?

Snowpeas, tri-color beans. Peppers. Cherry tomatoes, basil (blueberries and strawberries did not make it out of the garden).

A student asked me the other day why I garden–was it to save money, he asked, was it for better tasting food?

It does save money to grow food and food eaten straight out of the garden is a foodie’s exquisite pleasure, but those are not my primary motivations.

I garden for the delight it brings through all of my senses and for the joy of knowing that the garden never questions nurturing. The more I give the garden, the more it gives back, without question or judgment.

I garden for the sense of relationship with the deeper seasonal patterns. To experience at an intimate level the impact on health and thriving of variations in seasons, light, heat, and rain.

With the drought and extreme heat in our area, the garden is struggling. Peppers are fruiting before having gotten tall and full. Cucumbers are yellowing and drying, though a couple have grown large enough to eat. There is a surfeit of kale, but the snow peas, which prefer cool weather, barely had time enough to grow enough to flower before it was too hot to thrive.

Part of the reasons some recipes have many ingredients is because they are premised on there not being enough of any one thing to make a meal. I am getting a few servings of vegetables every day, but the blasting heat is preventing the kind of abundance for some things I might have in another year. The grapes, though, may be outrageous; they like this crazy heat.

I want to be conscious of these challenges and serendipities. I want to know how I might need to change and adjust to thrive in a world that is ever more out of balance. I garden because it helps me be aware of crisis and challenge, but always and first providing extraordinary pleasure and beauty.

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


It Does Not Get Much Better (and Satcitananda)

The key concept of yoga–satcitananda can be elusive, like all abstract concepts in the yoga philosophy and in other philosophies or areas of study. We are given metaphors and analogies in the texts to help us recognize when, through our practice, we experience in our self the manifestation of what had just been theory (book knowledge).

It is hard to describe, for example, what it truly means to be fully present and aware in the moment and thus suffused with bliss

There was a moment, standing in the hot sun, when I tasted a sun-warmed, perfectly ripe blueberry that I thought, this is a moment many of my students might imagine to be able to extrapolate the abstract concept of satcitananda.

Notice also the volunteer purslane at the base of the blueberry bush. Weeding and harvesting greens for salad and stir fry can be coextensive. Don’t poison or discard your purslane (or your dandelions). Pick it and eat it; purslane is a great plant source of omega fatty acids.

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


Aerial Views of the Garden

In response to requests, here are some photos of the garden in its current state.

The vine on the left is grapes–there are many dozens of bunches forming.  The vine on the right is a kiwi.  I planted it four years ago, and finally there are some fruits–at most a couple dozen, but it’s a start.  There aren’t enough strawberries to bring inside, but there are always a couple to eat when I am out working.

Current herbs:  cilantro, basil (thai and genovese), Mexican and Greek oregano, parsley, sorrel, tarragon, lemon balm, spearmint, kentucky colonel mint, garlic chives, savory, sage, thyme, rosemary, lavender, stevia, and dill.  Greens include mesclun, arugula, kale, chard, and are ready to eat now.

Snowpeas are on there way (and I ate snow pea greens with garlic scapes and herbs for dinner tonight).  Beans are blossoming; cherry tomatoes and cucumbers have formed, as have a couple of zucchini and a variety of peppers.  Blueberries are ripening and figs are just starting to bud on the new growth.  Carrots and turnips are mostly just a promise, but I expect at least a few.  Leeks and spring onions are poking through, but don’t seem to be getting along with this year’s weather patterns.

What’s growing in your garden?  (Even when I lived in an efficiency apartment in school, I had herbs growing in pots.  And sprouting is its own kind of gardening and only requires a kitchen counter.)  A garden can be made wherever you are, if you want one enough.


What Grows in a Very Small Space (and living freely within limitations)

Sometimes when I am blogging about my garden — the joys I experience and its wonderful produce — I feel like I might be presumptuous.  I am no Christoper Lloyd or Alice Waters.  I just have a tiny space behind my urban, rowhouse that I have turned into a personal celebration.

A visitor from out of town graciously commented that in some ways the limits of my garden make it even more wonderful.  In this sense, I know, perhaps best,  from my garden the yoga teaching that ultimately to find freedom in this life we need to celebrate all we are within our limitations to find an inner space of unbounded, liberation.

(Shown here, cucumbers, mint, nasturtiums, peppers, greens, sage, savory, basil, okra, onions, more peppers, red and yellow cherry tomatoes (well picked), brandywine and roma tomatoes, eggplant (slow to start this year), echinacea, lavender, orchid.)




Slowing Down (and vinyasa krama)

I wanted to share this article on “ecotherapy,” a term I had not heard before.  I found the article interesting because for years now, I have gradually practiced all the elements listed in the article as treatment for depression, not because I had been told by a therapist to do so, but because, despite my feeling the repercussions of going against the grain, I felt happier and healthier settling in one place, traveling more slowly, connecting with my pets, and tending a small patch of nature.

These shifts in lifestyle simply feel to me more in alignment with my own nature and that of the earth.  I found, incidentally, it gave me much more time overall to do things.  People ask me how I do so much (usually referring to the day job, the yoga teaching, the gardening and cooking, the volunteer work).  Thinking of the way they live, and what they do, they ask when do I rest?  I say that my life is in fact rather slow and restful.  I rest when I meditate.  I rest when I am taking the time to make a home-cooked meal — every day when I am in town, often two or three times a day.  I rest when I am tending the garden.  I do not think of cooking and gardening as chores, but as ways to nurture myself.

I rest when I am commuting because it is on foot or sitting on the bus or metro (note:  instead of getting anxious or angry when metro is slow, think of it as an opportunity to draw into yourself and meditate, contemplate, or read).

Not having moved or changed jobs in years, even though there have been serious challenges with both where I live and my job, I had the time, money, and energy that would have been used up in a major upheaval, to engage in the study and practice to become a certified Anusara yoga instructor, and before that, to study  drawing and photography and to exhibit my art.  Staying in place, I continue to have time to study and to read (not watching TV helps alot, too, for finding time).  The choices are different with children in the house, but it is still possible to make choices that require less racing around for the family.

This, to me, is a larger aspect of vinyasa krama, the art of sequencing.  When we sequence how we move in space and time in a holistic, sensitive way that honors the rhythms and cycles of our bodies and the earth’s, then we feel less trapped or overwhelmed.  When I was trying to keep up with society, I was often sad and anxious.  Now I am much less so.  I have often attributed it to these choices.  Now, I see, society has given us a word for it —  ecotherapy.  With a word coined for it and put in the press, will people feel more comfortable practicing it?