I grew up with my hands in the soil.
Born in the countryside and raised in a very “country like” capital city, I’ve always been close to my food. Our backyards had towering guava trees, bushy cherry trees, dwarf coconut palms, sugarcane stalks… you name it. Our front yards bloomed with hibiscus flowers in reds, yellows and pinks. Instead of lawn grass, our lawns burst with peanuts, cassava and eddoes.
The lawns were in response to our then Prime Minister Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham’s call to our nation to feed, clothe and house itself. My mom, sister and I raised chickens and slaughtered, plucked, weighed, labeled, and sold them locally (although my mom worked full time as a teacher). Neighbors’ goats and cows wandered through the streets. It was paradise. Truly.
The Most Urban Garden
Here in New York City – the proverbial “Concrete Jungle” – I can’t help myself. As soon as spring comes easing around the corner, I begin my quest for greenery and food and color in my backyard.
I call this project “The Most Urban Garden“, because it scarcely gets more citified than this. My backyard is by itself a 20’*20′ concrete patch surrounded by chain link fence. I have dreams every year of tearing up the concrete and changing the fence but – as we would say in Guyana – “paisa na bah.” So, in true Guyanese fashion, I learn to make do and cultivate true happiness out of containers each year.
I have tried so many vegetables over the years with different levels of success. From carrots and radishes to fennel, zucchini (wildly successful) and and of course herbs.
My children have also been an important part of my gardening culture here in Brooklyn. From the time they could walk and hold a watering can, they have been co-cultivators in the garden.
This year is my most ambitious yet. The shelter-in-place has afforded my garden more attention than ever before. I’m growing:
- Tomatoes (2 types)
- Peppers (2 types)
- Lettuce (3 times)
- Mesculun greens
- Bok choi
- Swiss chard
- Jamaican Callaloo