Contrary to popular belief, having a green thumb is not an innate skill, but practiced, hands-on work. For me, growing season usually flies by in a blur of sunscreen and margaritas, and the seeds of best intentions wither away without a bloom. This year I’ve set some modest growing goals that will keep a bit of nature around me instead. With the right research and garden tools, I’ve heard anyone can set about making a tree, tomato or tulip grow in Brooklyn. Depending on New York City’s limited living spaces, that could mean a brownstone garden, or just a window box, but either way don’t let this year pass without putting down some roots. If you can withstand the approaching “pollen tsunami,” you’ll be rewarded with beauty, fresh vegetables and even treats for your pets. To help novices like me succeed, we’ve rounded up the best gardening gear for every kind of space.
Just because your apartment isn’t blessed with a greenspace, doesn’t mean you can’t bring the outside in. Rooted in Design: Sprout Home’s Guide To Creative Indoor Planting by Tara Heibel and Tassy De Give, the owners of Sprout Home, has tons of tips for figuring out what plants to pick and where to put them. Finding gorgeous ways to incorporate greenery into your decor can really bring life to a room, as well as help make the air fresh. A cotton macrame plant holder ($37.50) is perfect hanging from an under utilized corner. Small porcelain planters ($30) or a large multi holed barnacle planter ($650) are all handmade by skinnyskinny, and would be beautiful additions to any size room. If you’re looking for something unusual to grow in your planters, indulge your pets with dog and cat grass that can be grown right in the bag it comes in (Potting Shed Creations $9). For those with a fear of growing houseplants, ease into it with an airplant ($5-30). These plants grow without soil, and they get all the water and nutrients they need through their specialized leaves. If after all these options you are still intimidated, just grab a bunch of lilacs from the farmers market and enjoy the smell of spring.
The Brownstone Garden
Obviously, if you have a backyard, you’ve been salivating for a chance to use it all winter. Instead of throwing down some astroturf and patio furniture, this could be the year that you make that space an oasis. Landscaping consulting services start at just $35 (with a 2-hour-minimum) from Seasons. Or you can do a little online research to plan your own garden plots. With just a few tools and your seeds, you can look forward to many weekends puttering around the garden. A pair of water resistant, resilient gloves (FoxGloves $30 at Dig) will keep your hands protected yet feel barehanded. Sunscreen is also essential for outdoor work, as is a great sun visor. San Diego Hat Company makes one ($22.50) that is SPF 50 and rolls up to stick in your pocket when you get to the shady spots. A good garden trowel (Terra Verde Trowel $12 or Steel Trowels $8.99) won’t need too much sharpening and will make digging fast and easy. Next up, are clippers, which you’ll use to prune and shape your plants. This is the most used gardening tool, so choose a pair that feels good in your hand (Joyce Chen $30- Felco $70). To keep all your tools by your side, a great tool belt ($17) can help you feel organized. Gardening is definitely hard work, but with the child sized tools in the Garden Growing Kit by Little Moppet ($16.50), which comes in pink or blue, maybe you can entice the kids to help.
The Tiny Rooftop
Great things can grow in tiny spaces. Sprout Home recommends reading Small-Space Vegetable Gardens: Growing Great Edibles in Containers, Raised Beds, and Small Plots by Andrea Bellamy for inspiration. Whether you are on a balcony or a rooftop, this book can help plan a garden that will grow actual food that you can eat. With such limited space, you’ll want to increase the chance of growth. By adding some plant food, like this Grow Big Tomatoes fertilizer ($28), you’ll be serving up tomato sandwiches at your next dinner party in no time. Recycle all the wine bottles that you entertain with, and use them with a plant nanny ($28 for a set of 4), to keep your greens hydrated. Your perfect sanctuary can be complete with love songs, with a lovely bird feeder ($68.75) to attract some feathered friends.
A Window Box
The beauty of a window box is that there is little upkeep and potentially large rewards with color and herbs outside your window. For a sunny box, it’s always convenient to have a fresh herb garden (Assorted Herbs $4–$8 pot) to supplement your cooking. And if you prefer some blooms, Potting Shed Kids sells a collection of seeds ($12) to scatter in your window box to attract butterflies and birds. Don’t dismay if your windows don’t bask in the sun, and try one of these 5 Great Plans for Shady Window Boxes. Watering a tiny garden doesn’t feel like a chore, especially when using an adorable steel Prague watering can ($45) that will quench the thirst without dripping on your wood floors.
Brooklyn Garden Resources:
Brooklyn Women’s Exchange: 55 Pierrepont St.; open: Tues.–Fri. from 11am-6pm, Sat–Sun from 11am–5pm; (718) 624-3435
Dig: 479 Atlantic Ave.; open: Tues.–Sat. from noon to 7pm; (718) 554-0207
Rose Red & Lavender: 653 Metropolitan Ave.; open Mon.–Sun. from 10am–6:30pm; (718) 486-3569
Seasons: 358 Stuyvesant St.; open Tues.–Sun. from noonish–dusk; (347) 770-5053
skinnyskinny Urban Gardens: 270 Grand St.; open from Mon.- Fri. from noon to 8pm, Sat.–Sun. from 11am–8pm; (718) 388-2201
Sprout Home: 44 Grand St.; open from Mon.–Fri. from 10am–8pm, Sat.-Sun. from 10am–7pm; (718) 388.4440