The first year in my current apartment, a small but sufficient one-bedroom, I avoided opening the door that leads straight from the bedroom to the outdoors. Shortly after move-in, a large population of wasps threw me, Cooper, and the overly-curious cats a deranged housewarming party, with that back wall of the house as its epicenter. (The worst day, Cooper counted something like seventy-eight wasps in their death throes, writhing on the bedroom carpet while a sadistic feline looked on.) I let eighteen months pass before I ventured out onto the fire escape again. So last year was our second summer in the apartment and the first summer with a garden.
We planted parsley, cilantro, thyme, cherry tomatoes, and lots of basil. The space doesn’t get a ton of light, since our house is exactly one small driveway from the next house, but the basil and the thyme did well until the end of summer, and there were more tomatoes than Cooper actually wanted. The green things glowing in the sun and the colorful outdoor rug I got (which is woven from recycled plastic!) made a huge impact on the cramped and crooked space.
It’s not really wide enough for plants plus furniture, so we only bring out folding chairs when we want to use them, and I usually just sit on the floor. This year, I want to add some plants—preferably flowering!—that grow up, to add a little more privacy along the edge. On the plus side, the neighbors this year don’t seem to share their predecessors’ penchant for open blinds, day and night. But I still want more plants this year, as well as more porch time: sipping cocktails with friends under my own tiny patch of sky, starting the day fresh with a few moments in the morning air. I’m ready.