Friday, April 29, 2011

2011 Gardening Season

Last years class photo.
I realize reading this post may make you question the name of my blog. I mean after all the name implies that this blog may be solely about cupcakes....but its not. Cupcakes are just a part of my being and a large part of my business but I'm a much more diverse person overall. Along with my love for cupcakes, cake, Caribbean food, and Asian food I also have a new found love for gardening. I started planting last year as my own little urban renewal project. Living in the city its very common to be faced with only brick walls when you open your window. My front windows faces the street where trees and other plants are grown but my kitchen window faces this depressing grey wall that I just couldn't stand to look at anymore last year this time. After reading a couple of urban gardening blogs I set out to the farmers market with cash in hand and a hopeful green thumb. Last year was my first season growing and I learned a lot of things and I also scared myself half to death because despite my love for gardening I cannot stand BUGS and we all know where theres dirt there are creepy crawlies! Last summer I grew heirloom brandywine tomatoes, various herbs, peppers, petunias, marigolds, and a couple other flower varieties.
My baby Brandywines from last year

Gardening overall is hard work but its even harder when its done in a small space such as a fire escape. Even though its hard growing your own plants is one of the most rewarding experiences. Even if you don't have access to a rooftop/yard/or fire escape you can grow a few herbs of flowers on a windowsill or counter that has access to sunlight. Target and my local farmers markets have been great resources for me. Target has cute pails and gardening tools in their dollar section, even seeds are available in the dollar section. In Targets outdoors department there are more seed varieties and plant containers you can buy. Farmers markets have starter plants that you can buy throughout the growing season if you don't want to grow from seed. The farmers can also give you tips on how to care for your plants when you get home.
This year I have tried to challenge myself by buying seeds to start most of my plants instead of only buying starter plants from the nurseries. Its the last week in April and so far I have sunflowers, wildflowers, asters, morning glory's, curly parsley, chive, big boy tomatoes, and some other herbs from last year. R.I.P to my habenero pepper plant, sage, and spanish thyme they just didn't make it through the rough winter.
This years class so far..they are still babies but their coming along.
As soon as extra money presents itself I will be planting some hanging vine plants to cover the entire top of the fire escape to create my own urban oasis.  I also want to plant carrots, cucumbers, a next variety of tomatoes, and some more herbs.  I learned so much between last year and this year garden wise and I hope to keep learning and improving my green thumb. Maybe you all will decided to start up a few plants of your own like some fresh herbs to sprinkle on your dishes or even plant marigolds which help keep pest away from other plants and can be seeped in hot water to make a medicinal tea that is cleansing and detoxifying.  You can even plant wheat grass and make your own wheat grass shots instead of buying them.
Here are a few gardening tips from me to you:

1- Make sure you check your growing location for steady sunlight. Most plants need at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.
2- Use a good soil mix that contains organic material(compost), perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss. you can make your own or sub with miracle grow.
3- Feed your plants regularly for the best possible growth. Read up on the individual plant so that you know when to feed them. 
4- Choose a container with drainage holes to prevent water logging plant roots. You can make your own drainage holes in pots by using an ice pick if they don't already have.
5- To make your garden more eco friendly you can reuse old bottles and containers to plant seeds. 
6- Beware of garden pest! If you notice an infestation try to take care of it asap! 
In the picture below I had a problem with fungus gnats in my sweet pea seedlings and sprinkling ground cinnamon on the entire plant helped to get rid of them.
Finally don't hesitate to contact you local botanical garden for help with gardening. If you are in the Brooklyn Area the Brooklyn Botanic Garden offers various gardening classes for beginners and experts! With that said I hope you decide to activate your green thumb...HAPPY GARDENING!

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