Gardening in New York City

When we first arrived in the place where we are staying in Queens, New York City, we were quite fascinated. While looking for the right address, we came to know that the residents here like to look after their own gardens in their front yards.

Our neighbors across the street and those at the next few blocks have their own.

That’s actually something attractive in this crowded borough of New York City. But what is more surprising is to see the many kinds of vegetables in the gardens sprawling and hanging outside the fences.

String beans and plants in a garden

Seeing vegetables of all sorts grown in the front yards of apartments here in Queens is really a charm. I often smile whenever I see them. I’m used to see flowering plants in front yards. In our small town San Fabian back in the Philippines, what you can normally see in front of the houses are beautiful plants such as roses, orchids, hibiscus (gumamela) and other lovely plants.

One thing more, it’s New York City. Why growing vegetables in front yards?

Outside the metropolitan of New York like in the county of Suffolk, the front yard is verdant with Bermuda grass. Regularly, the grass is trimmed down using lawnmower creating a fine, green carpet. Owners may want to grow whatever possible plants they like.

Particularly here where we stay in Queens, the trend in the neighborhood with front yards is to plant vegetables together with the flowering plants.

In some apartments, they grow only vegetables. Gardening in New York City also becomes a hobby for the elderly who are still able to do this task for recreation.

There’s even one funny story that’s been told to us. An old guy has already spent too much for his garden, buying things to make sure he’ll get healthy crops. While this is good, the thing is he can simply buy the same produce from the grocery stores with cheaper price.

The garden of the apartment where we stay is located at the backyard. It’s also a small piece of ground that has come to life with leafy vegetables neatly tucked in. Wilfred, the gardener in his late 60s, is the male owner of the apartment from Pangasinan, Philippines. He is retired and just enjoying his life.

Mostly, I see him taking care of his dear garden in the afternoon. He is there cutting the withered leaves, inspecting or merely watering the bunches of his tomatoes, bitter gourds, cucumbers and long beans.

Garden in the backyard of our apartment

He has already harvested his crops several times. When he first reaped his produce, he gladly gave us two bitter gourds and a few grape tomatoes.

The vegetables grown depend as well on who owns the apartment. Since New York City is home to different cultures and races, the vegetables you’ll see reflect the vegetables usually found in the homelands from which the owners originally come from. I noticed the owners of apartments with vegetables in their gardens are mainly Asians.

It’s clear that the residents in New York City is making the most out of the tiny grounds still remaining in their yards. New York City, as we all know, is populated with millions of people in a limited land area. You’ll see the throng of people packed on the bus and train and rushing down the street.

When walking along the avenue, you can see long beans, luffa (patola), lady’s finger (okra), tomato, bitter gourd and some more.

For the apartments without the gardens, their front yards are cemented and turned into front porches where benches are placed for relaxation.

In counties like Suffolk or Nassau, people enjoy the copious tracts of land. They can have barbecue parties or celebrations in their yards. Their houses are surrounded with green, big trees and the fresh air is so cooling.

The season here in New York is still summer until September 21. So residents can still enjoy watching over their gardens. When fall or autumn comes next, the vegetables will start to wilt.

What can you say about the gardening in New York City? You can share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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