Grow Your Own Way

Urban Gardening, Part One

If you live in the Northeast, then you know this Sunday was unseasonably warm: 74 degrees at a time of year when we’re lucky to get out of the 50s. By some miracle of god (the theater god, I guess), Mark didn’t have to work on Sunday, so we took full advantage of that — plus a few leftover housewarming gift cards we had for Home Depot — to get our yard tidied up and the beginnings of a garden underway.

The tools of the trade.

One nice thing about working in the theater industry is that, for the most part, you work at night and your days (or at least mornings) are free to do errands and chores around the house. Unfortunately, Mark has been teaching high school during the day AND rehearsing for his next show every night, so household duties have been totally up to me…and I’m working nonstop these days, too. So our poor house has been a bit neglected. But today we turned that around!

Workin' it.

We have a postage-stamp sized yard, but that’s still 1000% more than we had at the old apartment in Somerville, where we were awash in pavement on all sides. We couldn’t even have a window box. Now, even though it almost certainly means we’re getting in way over our heads, we are actually planning a garden. I’m on team vegetable, Mark’s on team flower (no surprises there). To start, we are splitting the difference by planting herbs.

Coming soon: Rosemary. If this goes well, I'm hoping to graduate to green beans and lettuce. Maybe next year I'll brave zucchini and tomatoes. We also discovered scallions growing wild alongside the house!

We moved into our house just a few days before Thanksgiving, so we are only now learning how much sunlight hits what part of the yard, and what leftover plants are still eking out an existence since the previous owners were last able to care for them. I think we were able to tame some of the wildest bushes and revive some of the most weed-choked areas today.

My job was made a lot easier by the brand new pair of Titanium shears Mark bought me this weekend! I'm touting the titanium aspect to gloss over the fact that these are made for people with arthritis.

Next weekend, we are planting a raspberry bush and seeding the yard with some new grass. After that, Mark has to re-terrace the hilly part of the yard with lumber (or stone — haven’t decided yet). In the meantime, maybe the crocuses will finish poking their heads up, and we can see where there’s room to plant more flowers!

My first and probably last floral contribution: dark purple pansy in a planter.

After all this hard work, I think we will deserve a little treat — perhaps some patio furniture so we can eat dinner & grill out back?? I think so.

Need help starting your garden? It’s that time of year, so don’t waste any more time. As I’m learning, the best way to start is to simply dive in:

  • Check out Garden Planning 101, an all-purpose guide on
  • You may also find it useful to follow the Farmers Almanac online, which has a great customizable chart that lets you know the best dates for planting by your location.
  • This urban farming blog also has a fabulous series on planning your small-scale garden, including a primer on how much of each plant to grow based on your family size and tastes.
  • Finally, check out this drag-and-drop garden planner.

See? Even a die-hard city slicker like me can do it. Share your ideas and progress!

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