New York, News

Apartment Gardens: Hipster Trend or City Zen?

Johnny Sanford :: Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 12:15 pm

Few things scream “Hipster” like an apartment garden. But this Spring, when visiting my family in a small village about twenty miles due east of Albany, New York, I found something in the garage that struck my interest. A small cardboard box with a monsterous tomato plant hanging out of an upside down vinyl bag which is “as seen on TV.” It’s called a Topsy Turvy, and I was intrigued. And just like that, the seed was planted in my mind as the frost began to subside in late March. After placing the nearly pristine Topsy Turvy in with my bag of clothes, I had this sudden excitement bubbling up within me: “No more buying tomatoes!” I quietly thought to myself.
I don’t live in the “hip” part of Brooklyn; quite the contrary. It takes me forty five minutes to get to the city, but coming from the nearly suburban Bay Ridge is worth it for the porch alone. After getting home from the four hour trip back to my apartment in Bay Ridge, I took the strange bag out and examined it closely. I took a morning to go down to my local indoor/outdoor gardening center a few blocks away, and fell in love with the oxygen-rich environment. There was no going back to my former non-green days. I found a sturdy tomato plant and bought a couple of window sill planters as well. Altogether the whole venture cost about twenty bucks, but it felt priceless. I came home and put up the Topsy Turvy, complete with my healthy looking organic tomato plants. As the weather has gotten warmer, the plant has absolutely exploded in size, and it comfortably shades me from the morning sun as I sit and enjoy warm cups of coffee on my porch, casually reading, writing or even (gasp!) doing nothing at all. Many of my conversations revolve around the tomato plant, for some reason. The sheer tenacity of my organic tomato plant inspired me to search out another hidden dream: fresh strawberries. Yesterday, that dream was fulfilled, as my mom told me about another Topsy Turvy product, which provides 15 quarts of fresh strawberries a year in the same easy to use package. Another trip to the Home Garden center and I’ve got another $25 invested. The best part is that when cold weather comes, my plant friends can join me inside my apartment next to the windows and wait out the frosty days of Winter, providing me with a little green and some fresh air. What started as a little idea has turned into a big one: I started buying carrots to plant, then some lettuce,(fresh lettuce for BLTs!) then a variety kit for fresh herbs, then mint, and the rest is history. The zen-like nature of caring for and watering the plants has pulled me out of the warm womb of my apartment and onto the porch, and here I am as I write this piece.
So before you write off the apartment garden phenomenon as just another hopeless hipster trend, my advice is this: go buy a plant, and see what happens.
You can buy a Topsy Turvy planter at your local CVS or Duane Reade for a little over $10.