I realize I’ve been neglecting my blog for a couple weeks, but it was for a good reason. I had to get through my last set of finals to ensure I’ll being wearing this lovely getup next Thursday.
That’s right, I’m about to graduate. YAY! I’ve learned a great deal in graduate school, but I’ve learned quite a bit from starting this blog too. Mainly, there’s a reason why people don’t garden in fifth floor walk-ups and here’s a few reasons why.
In many New York buildings individual apartments don’t control their own heating system. Instead heat is pumped full blast through the radiators and you adjust the temperature by opening your windows. From an environmental and sustainable standpoint this is pretty disturbing. With my seedlings sitting on the windowsill above the heat source it spells plant doom. Yep, a chilly April night killed all of my tomato and chamomile seedlings in one foul heated-swoop. But I wasn’t deterred! I ordered new seeds and tried again… and then I learned something else.
It turns out there just isn’t enough light in my “urban garden” to grow tomatoes, despite keeping them in my brightest window, the surrounding buildings block too much sunlight. My seedlings got about three inches tall and stayed that way until they gave up on this world. My chamomile seedlings are still hanging in there, but have yet to go gangbusters on me.
The last thing I’ve learned is that snap peas are pretty laid-back and easy going. As luck would have it, the only thing that’s growing with some enthusiasm are those darn snap pea plants. Not only are they chugging right along, but they’re survivors.
Through spring storms and fairly strong winds they’ve kept calm and carried on. I collected sticks from Riverside Park to tie the fragile little plants to so they wouldn’t get ravaged by the winds that whip by our fire escape pretty regularly. I built a lattice for them out of kitchen twine and the busted twinkle lights that the last tenant left behind. And they’ve been pretty doggone happy with that. Who’d a thunk it…
Now I’m getting ready to move my chamomile into the big bad world that is a NYC fire escape and I bought something to encourage their gumption and resolve. I bought a bag of biochar enriched soil at a local food conference. What is biochar? Well, based off of my own understanding, the seller’s description, and a quick cross reference with Wikipedia, it’s basically agricultural charcoal. The ancient Amazonian’s created biochar by burning agricultural waste in pits and adding it to their soil to enhance its fertility. It’s an organic based, historically proven, and scary agro-chemical free way to improve soil. Biochar not only stores nutrients and water and provides a medium for microorganism growth, but it is also being researched as a potential method for carbon sequestration. Because it’s a stable carbon structure it can maintain its form for thousands of year, keeping carbon in the soil. So my chamomile are about to do their part to abate climate change, making them a pretty big deal. I think that’s some high quality motivation to keep growing.