For the last couple of years that I’ve been reading 66 Square Feet religiously, it’s at this point in the summer that I get blindly jealous. Desperate with envy. Why? you ask. It’s her terrace fig tree.
Now, I know I could grow one myself. And I fully intend to start next summer. But I recently stumbled on an article (and then another, from the New York Times) about the history of fig trees in Brooklyn, and my curiosity was firmly rooted. Could I identify fig trees from the street? Are there any in my neighborhood? How about in the parks of Brooklyn? COULD I PICK SOME FOR MYSELF?!
So I embarked on a search. I know Park Slope, where I live, and neighboring Carroll Gardens, where I regularly bicycle, was once the provenance of many an Italian-American family. And since Italians immigrants began bringing fig trees with them to Brooklyn in the 1880’s, surely there must still be fig trees here. Right? Lo and behold:
After weeks of keeping an eye out for errant fig trees, I found two on my way to develop film. (a sign?) No ripe figs in sight, but certainly their overgrown boughs were heavy with fruit. I found two more on another long walk home, buttoned-up and well-pruned, but with succulent purple gems.
I couldn’t resist. I do recognize the gift. The summer is good.
Earlier this week, I posted a shot of my ever-expanding fire escape garden, which is in full swing as we storm into July. I got several sweet comments and a few questions about how to sustain a small urban garden, and I’m happy to say that it’s not too hard — at least in my experience with this small collection of herbs and tomatoes. And the cats are totes spoiled by having fresh nip at their beck and call. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this great list of urban gardening blogs over at Apartment Therapy!
My little garden is now punctuated by beautiful cherry tomatoes (at right), which are starting to ripen and making me hungry every time I throw open the window screen to water them. (Oh, how I love the smell of tomato plants in the summer!)
The light was so lovely last night at sunset that I had break out my trusty vintage 55mm macro lens. Check out the shots below in celebration of the simple pleasures!
The very first tomato of the season – yum!
Oregano and Catnip.
A sprig of rosemary stretches for the sun.
Globe basil, and spicy thai basil!
If it’s one thing I think most Brooklynites can agree on, it’s this: the heat and humidity the last few weeks have been oppressive. A couple of weeks ago, we were trying to slow down, take a deep breath, and relax. But now — forget the park. Every time I return home to my apartment, sweat dripping down my nose, the only relaxation I can do is in front of the A/C!
I’m not alone, either. Frank over at New York City Garden begs for rain, Kitty at New York Portraits heads to the dog beach at Prospect Park to cool off, and Marie at 66 Square Feet opines, “Make it stop!”
But my fire escape plants? They’re undeterred. This morning I discovered a single lovely yellow globe on my sun gold tomato plant and the other clusters are well on their way. My four types of basil are all going bonkers and the rosemary is stretching taller and taller each day. The gardens and parks in my South Slope neighborhood are looking lovely, and it seems that lilies are sprouting up everywhere I look!
While I heft the umpteenth gallon of water from my faucet to the fire escape, check out the photos below!
Sweet basil seeks ripe tomato, preferably of heirloom varietal, for match made in heaven. Willing to discuss open relationship with ricotta or mozzarella.
There have been lots of additions to this growing fire escape garden since I last photographed it — nasturtiums, sage, oregano, thyme, and even my succulents are out and enjoying the heat!
On 6th Avenue at 15th Street, the community garden is in full swing. Stop by on the weekends for a stroll through the beautiful flowers!
Even this little park off the Prospect Expressway gets some love. It’s so green right now, it’s an oasis!
Despite the baking heat from the sidewalk, these resilient lilies enjoy direct southern sun along 19th Street.