Saturday, December 11, 2010

Today has a "Count Down Date" : 12-11-10, Finish Winterizing !


The  photograph above was taken about six weeks ago, on October the 27th 2010, in the afternoon prior to my presentation at the Apple Store on 67th Street and Broadway in New York City. (I spoke about the presentation in two previous posts which can be accessed by clicking here and here). I took the photo from the roof of the building where I live, to have an aerial view of my roof-extension, urban garden. I also wanted to have a full view of my roof-extension garden to include in a "pitch" that I was requested to submit to someone who works for a well known public figure.

That person is someone whom I had happened to reach by phone, and who shall remain nameless, as I may try and reach her after the holidays about blogging for their organization. In any event, when I spoke to this person, I told them about how I have winterized my roof-extension garden over the years, and she gave me her email and said to send her a "pitch" with related photographs, which I did. I got no response, and so I followed up with a phone-message as one never knows what really happens to materials sent in an email. Sometimes a query, proposal, resume, or pitch does not make it to an in-box. There is always the fear that it will go to spam, so, it would be nice in this day and age of several ways of communicating, if recipients who are employers would acknowledge materials that they receive — even it is just to hit "REPLY" if the query is made in an email, pretty effortless don't you think? Instead of leaving those like myself who are seeking assignments to be left wondering if everything they send goes into The Black Hole, I think it is time that people who are fortunate enough to be working recall what it was like when they were seeking work and acknowledge those seeking assignments.

I won't hold my breath; I've got, as the saying goes,"other fish to fry," and a lovely garden that requires much of my attention, especially with winter approaching. I have always winterized my garden in unique ways, which is why a number of people told me to contact this particular company.

As I have been stating in this posting, six weeks have passed since I sent my "pitch" and since the photo of my garden at the top of this post was taken. Part of my hope in sending my ideas to this public figure was to earn a few dollars, but I also wanted to reach out to other gardeners —especially urban gardeners: before winter sets in. 


Since I don't anticipate I'll hear from this organization, although I've kept my contact person nameless, (because I never got a 'no' and I suppose I could still hear from her), I'll share my winterizing methods here, even though many of my readers who are urban gardeners have probably winterized by now. Nonetheless, in case you are a gardener, and haven't done this, you may be able to learn from the experiences I have had over the years. 

The following text with links to photos regarding winterizing an urban garden (it would work for suburban gardens too), is what I emailed the contact person staff of the well-known company October 27th, 2010:

"Being that it is near the end of October, it is not too soon for urban gardeners to think about how they might winter over their plants, shrubs, and herbs for the season. I have a lovely garden on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (Photo #1) that is the result of years of “proper” winterizing. My garden includes a variety of herbs, plants, and shrubs as well as an old SODA sign where I often drape holiday lights to celebrate my outdoor space (as I have done in Photo #1 with Halloween - pumpkin-shaped- lights soon to be replaced by other holiday lights since Halloween is Sunday).
Now I find myself vigilant about the five-letter word for most gardeners: f-r-o-s-t and the six letter word that will soon follow: w-i-n-t-e-r. For the past few winters, I protected my less hardy plants, shrubs and herbs from harsh elements by constructing a cold frame. I had learned my winterizing lesson the hard way, when some years ago,  I bought my special herbs and plants inside my studio apartment only to have them die from shock and the dryness of my place. The dryness is caused by steam-heat - a bane of existence to many New York City dwellers. These conditions did not make a good atmosphere in making a winter home for the less hardy things that I love to grow.
In any event, the experience of having my plants and herbs die is behind me, thanks to my having used a cold-frame. A cold frame is a transparent-roofed enclosure usually built low to the ground and used to protect plants, herbs, and small shrubs from cold weather. The transparent top of a cold frame admits sunlight and so the structure functions as a miniature greenhouse. It costs nothing to use because it relies solely on the warmth of the sun. 
Cold frames are generally found in rural home gardens, but because I live in Manhattan, I have become quite creative in making use of space. I saw no obstacle in having a cold frame constructed to use during the winter months that could be taken down and stored during spring, summer and fall. My endeavor was successful, so I am writing this pitch in order to share my “recipe”  for a cold frame so that other urban gardeners (and suburban gardens) can successfully winterize their plants, herbs and shrubs.
Normally a cold frame is constructed with old glass windows and wood, but I used plexi-glass, and 4x4s for the corner posts as well as  2x4s for the additional framing. I chose these materials so that I could  take the cold-frame apart and store it  - without fear of it breaking - in my  closet during the non-winter months. The minimum thickness needed for plexi-glass used in this manner is 1/2”.  I used five pieces (4 sides to form a  square, and one for the top that functioned as a lid). When determining the height of the sheets of plexi-glass, I had to allow for several inches of empty space above and around each plant for air circulation, so in my case my cold-frame looked like a mini-greenhouse. (Photo #2)
Usually a cold frame functions optimally when it is butted up against a home, garage, or solid fence, but with roof-extension gardens these options are usually not available. The first year I chose the part of my  roof-extension which received the most sunlight, and I recommend anyone taking on this mission find the sunniest spot on their outdoor space to place  a cold frame. Extra humidity can be provided by placing trays - that are similar to those that are used in a darkroom as developing trays for photographic prints -  filled with bark chips or mulch and put underneath the plants. 
Additionally, I also needed to make sure I allowed for the lid to be able to be left open  - at least a few inches - so that the air could circulate from time to time. (I used a  bamboo pole on days I wanted to keep the frame open.) (Photo #3). I made my plant’s winter home festive by adding lights (Photo #4  as well as Photo #5 ) and placing little window boxes of hearty plants alongside the outer edges of  it (seen in all photos #2-#5). 
My plants and herbs did well in terms of warmth that first year, but the second year I put the structure closer to the walls of my apartment to protect the plants, herbs and shrubs from wind-damage, and in addition to the lights and window boxes, I draped it in garland for the holiday season. (Photo #6 as well as Photo #7).
After two years of cold-frame living my plants were established enough to survive without a winter home; however I did mulch them very well, then wrapped every container twice in bubble-wrap and surrounded this with a strong burlap secured tightly with jute. (Photo #8). New York City got a lot of snow that season (Photo #9 as well as Photo #10) but all survived, and I expect to have my plants, herbs, and shrubs for many years to come."


Again,  it has been six weeks since I submitted my proposal, and a lot has happened in my garden in six weeks, as can be seen in the photograph posted at the end of this entry. A few days ago, December 4, 2010, Juan helped me to complete my winterizing for the 2010-2011, and all my trees, shrubs, plants, and herbs have been put to bed for a winter's nap. He wrapped them lovingly in bubble-wrap and burlap (which was from on-line fabrics) as I had done with someone else last year. I've blogged about Juan's talents in previous posts which you can go to by clicking here, here and hereThe result of our 2010 winterizing can be seen in the photograph (taken by Juan from the roof of my building) below:


Compare it to the image at the top of the post to really see what happens in seven weeks in a roof-extension garden. With the current economic situation, and the lack of assignments I often feel my life is stagnant — my garden is 'proof' that this is not true. A garden is always changing, not always so drastically in such a relatively short amount of time, but it is always changing. If you look really carefully to the right of my garden, you will see branches along the railing: those are the branches from my Acinida kolomikta and Actimidia (Kiwi Vines) that I blogged about in a previous post. Now, if you look at the photograph at the top of the post, you will see those same branches full of lush green leaves on October 27th 2010. Between October 27th 2010  and November 4th 2010, this Acinida kolomikta went through a major life change, and all its leaves turned from a lushly vibrant green to a brilliant yellow, and then remained that way until the leaves fell off, leaving me with gorgeous branches. The changes made by my Kiwi Vines, as well as the other trees, shrubs, and plants in my roof-extension garden give me hope for a relief in my stagnant situation regarding the lack of writing and photo-art projects that are coming my way.

1 comment:

  1. As of 9.19.2011, the on-line brochure mentioned in this blog entry has been redesigned since the time of this posting. The link included in this post has been changed to direct you, dear reader, to the latest version of my on-line brochure.

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