Joy Returns on a NYC Rooftop

August 19, 2012 § 7 Comments

A little over a year ago, my husband and I left San Francisco — our renovated garden, the eucalyptus-scented air, the freezing summers — to create a second home in NYC.

During the winter in NYC, we worked on our plans to renovate our apartment, overcoming the various hurdles required when you change anything in a landmarked building. We escaped the chilled concrete to tromp through snow at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

Tractor in snow, Blue Hill at Stone Barns

I missed San Francisco, deeply. I got to visit my garden in San Francisco a few times. Beyond the herbs, like this bushy sage, the edibles mostly fed the chirping birds or ran wild and spindly in a chilly, windy spring.

Sage

But the ornamentals thrived.

Camellia blossom

Shadow and light, spring garden

And as sunshine, longer days and warm weather emerged on the east coast, I began to experiment, growing a garden in pots on our tar-paper roof atop our apartment-in-renovation. In anticipation for The Farm that we’ll build eight stories up in the sky, I wanted to see what I could cultivate.

It turns out, a heck of a lot more than in our San Francisco garden. While I always knew this in my head, seeing the evidence of heat and sun has made me feel a joy I wasn’t sure I’d feel living in NYC.

Tomatoes and cityscape

Tomatoes actually grow. Despite erratic watering and life amidst a construction zone, my plants produced juicy, sweet, delicious tomatoes…nothing like the sad, moldy cherry tomato plants I struggled to keep alive in San Francisco. More on the zen I learned from that experience here.

I’d always read that growing basil near tomatoes would keep insects away and make the tomatoes tastier. Perhaps this thriving basil is, indeed, doing its job. It makes a delicious basil lemonade (recipe here). And it delights visitors to the roof with its scent.

Basil and sunlight

The half a dozen shallots I planted from this past spring’s harvest — just to see what would happen — have grown faster in two months than they did in four in San Francisco.

A mop head of shallot greens

Of great delight is the eggplant experiment. We picked up a couple of seedlings at a nursery en route from Maryland to NYC one weekend. The beautiful, fuzzy plants thrived on the roof, surviving even a violent thunderstorm that bested our apartment pipes but left the plants with just a few leaf holes.

Eggplant injuries

And this week — the first few fruits have emerged from the lavender, parasol-shaped flowers with yellow centers. Tiny, purple. Perfect.

Emergent eggplant

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§ 7 Responses to Joy Returns on a NYC Rooftop

  • I don’t get to my reader often but what a pleasant surprise to see a post from you! Great fun to see what you’ve got growing on the rooftops of NYC! Terrific! Hope all is well – all is insane here, but that is just normal for me. Gardening is something I’ll have to think about when the kids are gone which won’t be long now – one is a senior in high school, the other a freshmen. Hope to see more posts from you soon!

  • so pleased to read your update. I guess like people, plants like to turn their face to the sun and yours have an eight storey leg up!

  • Kelly Simpson says:

    See, that cool CA air isn’t good for EVERYTHING!!! LOL Interesting tip on the basil/tomato combo. I’ll have to try that sometime.

    On Sun, Aug 19, 2012 at 10:59 AM, Together In Food wrote:

    > ** > Stephanie M at Together In Food posted: “A little over a year ago, my > husband and I left San Francisco — our renovated garden, the > eucalyptus-scented air, the freezing summers — to create a second home in > NYC. During the winter in NYC, we worked on our plans to renovate our > apartment, overc”

    • Stephanie M at Together In Food says:

      Just ate two of our tomatoes with a luscious lobe of burrata cheese. The tomatoes were sweet like candy. Definitely recommend the companion planting with basil. Generations of Italians can’t be wrong!

  • Mary Vascellaro says:

    Hooray. What joy to get this blog and see what you have begun to grow on your rooftop farm!

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