Since it’s my first year in this apartment, the yard came with an ecosystem of it’s own – including a rosebush, mulberry tree, and plenty of weeds (HA). In addition to cutting down the weeds by hand, I purchased a weed killer here for $25 and it’s been effective in killing tough weeds. We’ve also been competing with the neighbor’s bamboo trees, which grow suprisingly fast in the garden beds. There are times when I miss the rooftop garden because it felt like a controlled setting, but a ground-level garden offers new challenges and better yet, plenty of kitten time.

The vegetables that are flowering include the cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, pinto beans, hot and sweet peppers, and egg plant. Some of these vegetables are also starting to turn to fruit and I’m excited to start eating them soon! The cages are working well in keeping the squirrels at bay. And as the neighbors said, I moved into the squirrels’ (and the kittens’) backyard. The squirrels truly treat the yard like a backyard jungle.

In terms of plants that aren’t doing as well, the sweet basil is being eaten by tiny black insects. I haven’t resolved the issue with pesticides yet, but I’m hoping it can be revived. If anyone has advice on which pesticide they recommend, I’m all ears. I’ve learned that lavendar doesn’t enjoy being overwatered as well, so it’s important to keep an eye on it. The kittens pooed on the lavendar, so it didn’t last very long. To resolve the kitten pooing issue, there are more cages in place protecting the plants.

Although they can disturb the plants, it’s fun to spend time in the garden with the kittens sneaking around at your heels. At this point the garden has taken on a life of it’s own with all this Brooklyn rain. Some of the tomato plants have grown much taller than me, although at 5’ 2” that is not much of a feat. The plants that seem to be happiest are the tomatoes, peppers, and moonflowers. I have to snap a photo, but these flowers have large white buds that only bloom at night.

I’m excited to taste the first veggies in this backyard garden in Bed-Stuy. At the advice of neighbors, starting a garden in a raised-bed is much safer since there is always a posibility of lead poisinging in the soil, particularly in New York. Good to keep in mind in case you’d like to start a backyard garden of your own.

Cheers and happy gardening.

︎Mercedes Padró