Monday, May 21, 2012

Friends vs. Foes

I grew up as far from rural land as one can -- a product of the post WWII subranization of the areas surrounding America’s metropolitan centers. The closest I ever got to farming was praying the apple tree in the yard would bare fruit --in eighteen years it never did.  Or, watching my father, attempt to start a vegetable garden to no avail.  The soil in our yard was not very glorious -- we lived along the Long Island coast in homes built on land-filled marshes.  It seemed the only thing I ever got to taste ripe from the earth were radishes.  Yet, in me yearned a person with the desire to dig, nurture and water.  I fantasized of being a genteel farmer with fields of copious flowers, vegetables and herbs getting groomed for the table.  Alas, this was not to be my fate, and I spent my time looking at nature's product envisioning the trail that brought it to me.

One summer participated in a community garden at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, and thought this was a prefect situation to satisfy my need to reconnect with my ancestors and till some dirt.   There on the eastern edge of New York's iconic expanse dark, moist, worm laden earth was shipped in and then prepared by a small army of urban farmers.  Apparently, I was not the only one who carved that loamy connection. 

Within a month, this spot that previously supported weeds, trash and your average urban blight glowed with  young sunflowers reaching toward their name sake; a plethora of  tender, aromatic herbs promising a wonderful note to future dishes; tomatoes putting out small yellowish flowers a harbinger of a later joy, and squash blossoms buzzing with bees helping to ensure a bountiful harvest.

 The garden was inhibited with not only all these young, epicurean plants, but also insects -- and I do not mean the variety us city dwellers dread to see.  There were ladybugs, grasshoppers (not so welcomed, but tolerated nevertheless), praying mantis and butterflies -- I marveled at their presence for they were nowhere to be seen while we prepared the garden.  I mused that there must be some insect emailing list that alerts these garden friends and pests of a new plot, and its potential feast, or perhaps there was a twitter hash-tag I did not know of.  How, here in Brooklyn, with the dramatic Wall Street skyline as a backdrop, did these hopping, gliding, buzzing critters get here? I really saw a butterfly or grasshopper in Central Park, and spotting a ladybug seems virtually improbable. Not to mention the plot that was being mined did not previously shine with that come thither look. I was glad to see all these creatures, both foes and friends of the garden for whatever guided them to this place they helped complete this summertime tableau of mine.

Bug Spray
1/2-cup chili pepper
6 garlic cloves crushed
5 eye-drops full neem oil
2-teaspoons liquid soap
1-tablespoon sesame oil

In a half-gallon container place the ingredients, and fill it completely with water. Place in the sun for about four hours.


To use dilute the chili concoction at a ratio 1 part concoction to 3 parts water. Mist over your plants and on the ground surrounding them.

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